We appreciate your interest

Thanks to everyone who has been a loyal reader of this blog. After some consideration, we recognize that we're just not generating enough content here to warrant your time, so we won't be posting here any longer. We encourage you to visit our website to browse and access tools for sharing content, and the Webmaster Central blog for a timely dose of relevant news about content partnerships.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at 2:27 PM

Google and paid content

(Cross-posted from the Google News Blog.)

As newspapers consider charging for access to their online content, some publishers have asked: Should we put up pay walls or keep our articles in Google News and Google Search? In fact, they can do both - the two aren't mutually exclusive. There are a few ways we work with publishers to make their subscription content discoverable. Today we're updating one of them, so we thought it would be a good time to remind publishers about some of their options.

Google has strict policies against what's known as cloaking: showing one web page to the crawler that indexes it but then a different page to a user. We do this so that users aren't deceived into clicking through to a site that's not what they were expecting. While the anti-cloaking policies are important for users, they do create some challenges for publishers who charge for content. Our crawlers can't fill out a registration or payment form to see what's behind a site's paywall, but they need access to the information in order to index it.

One way we overcome this is through a program called First Click Free. Participating publishers allow the crawler to index their subscription content, then allow users who find one of those articles through Google News or Google Search to see the full page without requiring them to register or subscribe. The user's first click to the content is free, but when a user clicks on additional links on the site, the publisher can show a payment or registration request. First Click Free is a great way for publishers to promote their content and for users to check out a news source before deciding whether to pay. Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free. Now, we've updated the program so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing. If you're a Google user, this means that you may start to see a registration page after you've clicked through to more than five articles on the website of a publisher using First Click Free in a day. We think this approach still protects the typical user from cloaking, while allowing publishers to focus on potential subscribers who are accessing a lot of their content on a regular basis.

In addition to First Click Free, we offer another solution: We will crawl, index and treat as "free" any preview pages - generally the headline and first few paragraphs of a story - that they make available to us. This means that our crawlers see the exact same content that will be shown for free to a user. Because the preview page is identical for both users and the crawlers, it's not cloaking. We will then label such stories as "subscription" in Google News. The ranking of these articles will be subject to the same criteria as all sites in Google, whether paid or free. Paid content may not do as well as free options, but that is not a decision we make based on whether or not it's free. It's simply based on the popularity of the content with users and other sites that link to it.

These are two of the ways we allow publishers to make their subscription content discoverable, and we're going to keep talking with publishers to refine these methods. After all, whether you're offering your content for free or selling it, it's crucial that people find it. Google can help with that.

Posted by Josh Cohen, Senior Business Product Manager

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Your world, your base map


Today we released new base map data for the U.S. in Google Maps, Google Earth and other Google services. We developed this map by integrating data from many sources, including datasets provided by government agencies and other organizations with an interest in making their mapping data widely available.

One such organization is the USDA Forest Service, which provides comprehensive and detailed data for all of the national forests within the U.S. Using this dataset, we've been able to show the boundaries of U.S. National Forest-managed forests and grasslands in our base map, making these lands more visible in Google Maps. We've also used Forest Service data to improve roads and trails on these public lands.

"An important part of the mission of the USDA Forest Service is informing the public about the forests and grasslands we manage. In order to achieve this, we want information about our lands to be accessible to as large an audience as possible," said David George, Geospatial Service and Technology Center, USDA Forest Service. "We are very pleased that Google has used our geospatial datasets to improve the base map in Google Maps and Google Earth so that everyone can easily discover, navigate and enjoy these public lands."

National parks, forests and other public lands in the Pacific Northwest, based on data from the USDA Forest Service, the U.S. National Park Service and other sources 

We've also created the Base Map Partner Program to enable organizations with mapping data to contribute their data to Google Maps and Google Earth. This program, like those we've introduced for other map content types, offers organizations with mapping data -- and an interest in making it more visible and useful to internet users -- a straightforward process for adding this data to Google's services. We now provide specifications on the types and formats of base map or "vector" data we welcome, including new roads, housing developments, parcel data, points of interest and bike trails. We hope that organizations with mapping data, such as local governments, regional GIS consortia or real estate developers, will take this opportunity to improve and enrich our base map for their community.

If the opportunity is of interest to you, tell us about your organization and your data. If you don't have large datasets to provide, but do have edits to the map to suggest, then try our tool for easily suggesting edits.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Posted by Megan Quinn, Business Product Manager

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 9:30 AM

Introducing the Google Merchant Center


(Cross-posted from the Google Merchant Blog.)

Today, we're excited to announce that we're launching the Google Merchant Center, which will replace Google Base for those of you submitting Product-type items to Google. If you submit products to Google, Google Merchant Center is now the place to upload your feeds, check on the status of your items, and get information on the performance of your listings.

Google Base is still available for other types of structured content, but the Merchant Center provides a better, optimized experience specifically for product listings. The Merchant Center is where we'll continue adding features and improving the tools for uploading and managing product listings.

In general, the Merchant Center interface is very similar to the Google Base interface, so we hope it's easy to transition. Sign in to the Merchant Center using the same Google Account information you did for Google Base. Your existing data feeds, items, FTP settings, etc. will be there for you.

For any non-product items you've submitted to Google Base, those will remain there and you can continue using Google Base to manage those items and settings. If you used the same account to submit both product and non-product items, you'll need to go into Google Base and reset your FTP settings. There's more info in the FAQs about this and other questions you may have.

As part of the launch of Google Merchant Center, this blog will be replacing the Google Base Blog. Please update your bookmarks and subscriptions, and visit us often!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 11:27 AM

And please give a warm welcome to....the Map Content Partner Help Center

Earlier this year, we discussed how we've been taking steps to make it easier for government agencies and other organizations to add their authoritative mapping data to Google Maps and Google Earth. Since then, we've been working to expand our programs for map content partners so we can welcome additional types of mapping data. In support of these programs, and in response to feedback received during our participation earlier this year in a conference of the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), we've developed a help center just for organizations who contribute mapping data to Google.

Our goal in launching the Map Content Partner Help Center is to be as transparent as possible about the partnership and content licensing process, the types of map content we welcome, the data formats we're able to accept, and other questions we frequently hear. Through the help center, we also provide a few ways to contact our Map Content Partnerships team, whether you want to tell us about data you'd like to add to Google services or want to raise a specific question or issue related to our partnership.

Like all good online help services, we hope to keep this help center up-to-date to address the many -- and sometimes out of left-field -- questions you send our way about partnering with Google. It's not that we don't like to interact with our partners and field questions personally. It's the fact that we're developing these partnerships globally, there are only so many of us in our U.S.-based Map Content Partnerships Team, and we're only fluent in three languages (four if you count Canadian). So, in rolling out this help center, we are better able to communicate with organizations the world over -- currently in English, and soon in other languages, eh? 

Posted by Dylan Lorimer, Content Partnerships

Monday, September 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Place Pages for Google Maps: There are places we remember!

(Cross-posted from the
Official Google Blog.)

Google Maps is a great tool for exploring places — you can pan around the map, zoom in and see nearby places, look around in Street View and search for whatever you want. But what I always wanted to do is be able to get a clear understanding of what a place is all about. Instead of doing the research all over the web, wouldn’t it be great to see all the information about one place in...one place?

Starting today, you can do that on Place Pages for Google Maps. A Place Page is a webpage for every place in the world, organizing all the relevant information about it. By every place, we really mean *every* place — there are Place Pages for businesses, points of interest, transit stations, neighborhoods, landmarks and cities all over the world.

You can get to a Place Page by clicking on "more info" in search results, or by clicking "more info" in the mini-bubble. Now, instead of just getting a slightly bigger bubble, you'll get an entire page of rich details, like photos, videos, a Street View preview, nearby transit, reviews and related websites.

Here are some of my favorite places, and what you can discover about them using Place Pages:

Tartine Bakery: My favorite bakery in the world. The "Place Summary" section compiles voices from all over the web praising the desserts but warning you about the lines. The "Details" section aggregates material from over 500 authoritative sources; for example, you can find the menu from Zagat.com. The "Related Maps" sections shows user-created maps that include this bakery, such as this delicious California dessert map.

Yoda statue: One of my childhood heroes in real size! The "User Content" section shows excerpts from all over the web describing this hidden little gem; "Nearby Transit" helps you find the best way to get there by public transport; and there’s even some useful local ads in case you want to get one of these at home.

Tokyo: I've spent a lot of time here lately as it's home to part of the Place Page team. On the city's Place Page, you can find out the most popular hotels, parks and major landmarks in Tokyo, browse local photos and videos, see what other people are searching for and access maps about the city from all over the web.

Zurich Hauptbahnhof: I’ve traveled through the central train station in Zurich several times over the last year, visiting the local team that made Place Pages possible. Place pages for transit stations are particularly useful because they'll show you a list of all the lines serving that station, as well as provide a timetable of upcoming departures.

As the Beatles' song in this post's title suggests, we want to make it easy to remember places: pages will come with a friendly URL that is easy to remember and link to under google.com/places. For example, the San Francisco Place Page will be found at google.com/places/us/california/san-francisco-city. Right now we include cities and most businesses, but we're working hard on bringing this to all Place Pages.

We want there to be a Place Page for every place in the world, but we might be missing a few places here and there. If you're a business owner, you can add or update your business details through the Local Business Center. This allows you to make sure your Place Page reflects the most accurate, authoritative and recent information about your business. And if you don’t have a business, but you discover a place that doesn’t have a Place Page, you can add it through community edits or Google Map Maker, depending on the country you’re in.

Whether you're searching for a great local florist or planning a trip across the globe, we hope Place Page for Google Maps makes your explorations easier and happier.

Posted by Lior Ron, Senior Product Manager, Place Page team

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Supporting Facebook Share and RDFa for videos

(Cross-posted from the Webmaster Central Blog. Editor's note: If you have videos on your website, you'll likely find this blog post interesting. It offers insights into how to help Google discover and index video content. It's the first in a series of posts on the topic; you can follow the full series on the Webmaster Central Blog.)

Have you ever wondered how to increase the chances of your videos appearing in Google's results? Over the last year, the Video Search team has been working hard to improve our index of video on the Web. Today, we're beginning the first in a series of posts to explain some best practices for sites hosting video content.

We previously talked about the importance of submitting a Video Sitemap or mRSS feed to Google and following Google's webmaster guidelines. However, we wanted to offer webmasters an additional tool, so today we're taking a page from the rich snippets playbook and announcing support for Facebook Share and Yahoo! SearchMonkey RDFa. Both of these markup formats allow you to specify information essential to video indexing, such as a video's title and description, within the HTML of a video page. While we've become smarter at discovering this information on our own, we'd certainly appreciate some hints directly from webmasters. Also, to maximize the chances that we find the markup on your video pages, you should make sure it appears in the HTML without the execution of JavaScript or Flash.

So, check out Facebook Share and RDFa and help Google find your videos!

Facebook Share:

<meta name="title" content="Baroo? - cute puppies" />
<meta name="description" content="The cutest canine head tilts on the Internet!" />
<link rel="image_src" href="http://example.com/thumbnail_preview.jpg" />
<link rel="video_src" href="http://example.com/video_object.swf?id=12345"/>
<meta name="video_height" content="296" />
<meta name="video_width" content="512" />
<meta name="video_type" content="application/x-shockwave-flash" />
RDFa (Yahoo! SearchMonkey):
<object width="512" height="296" rel="media:video"
<param name="movie" value="http://example.com/video_object.swf?id=12345" />
<embed src="http://example.com/video_object.swf?id=12345"
type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="512" height="296"></embed>
<a rel="media:thumbnail" href="http://example.com/thumbnail_preview.jpg" />
<a rel="dc:license" href="http://example.com/terms_of_service.html" />
<span property="dc:description" content="Cute Overload defines Baroo? as: Dogspeak for 'Whut the...?'
Frequently accompanied by the Canine Tilt and/or wrinkled brow for enhanced effect." />
<span property="media:title" content="Baroo? - cute puppies" />
<span property="media:width" content="512" />
<span property="media:height" content="296" />
<span property="media:type" content="application/x-shockwave-flash" />
<span property="media:region" content="us" />
<span property="media:region" content="uk" />
<span property="media:duration" content="63" />
Posted by Michael Cohen, Product Manager, Video Search Team

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 3:48 PM