Archives for March 2007

Staying at home for SES NYC 2007

Hey everybody, I talked about my travel plans earlier this year and wanted to give you a quick update. I’m staying at home for SES NYC 2007, still planning on taking a fair chunk of May off, and planning to hit the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) conference in June.

Why am I skipping SES NYC? Well, the main reason is that my inlaws are visiting, but I also want to crunch on some stuff at work and make sure that things are in good shape for me to take time off in May. It doesn’t hurt that the conference will be very well-documented by Barry Schwartz and his crack team o’ conference bloggers.

The final reason to stay home this time is that one of my 2007 goals is to get more Googlers in the spotlight. Here, go read this article if you speak French. Now my high-school French is a little rusty, but I see the words “Matt Cutts” in that post a lot. For example, take this fragment:

Les algorithmes de Matt Cutts rentrent à l’intérieur de nos bibliothèques, peuvent même vous servir à indexer votre disque dur. Matt Cutts sait tout ça.

Automated translation tools render that as

The algorithms of Matt Cutts return inside our libraries, can to even be used you to index your hard disk. Matt Cutts knows all that.

The only “algorithms of Matt Cutts” that I’ve got tucked away is stuff like how I brush my teeth. 🙂 It’s not good to confuse “Matt Cutts” with all the amazing work that other Googlers do. Even in just webspam, I’m fortunate to work with a talented team of incredible individuals. For example:
– Brian White is spending six months in Dublin to work more closely on webspam in Europe, and he’s working with an amazing group of people in Dublin.
– Adam Lasnik spoke at a webmaster conference in Australia earlier this month. Barry Smyth, the show director, said “I think Adam was on stage for about 4 hours straight.” And Adam just got done talking to webmasters at SES Munich. He was joined in Munich by Stefanie, who has been crucial in introducing the Google German webmaster blog. (I’ll be talking more about international webmaster communication more soon. Consider this a teaser.)
– Aaron D’Souza just got back from speaking at a different webmaster conference in Australia and is speaking at ad:tech San Francisco soon.
– Evan Roseman will be on panels and gathering feedback at SES NYC 2007. Evan also represented Google at SES Chicago last year.

And that’s just a sample of publicly-known people from the quality group who are working to improve quality or improve communication offline and online — there are a lot more people behind the curtain. 🙂 That also doesn’t even begin to count the hard-working people of the webmaster console (Vanessa Fox, Amanda Camp, Peeyush Ranjan, and lots more), or the people who keep an eye on Google’s discussion groups, the folks that post on our official blogs, Shuman talking about invalid clicks, or the Google Reader team listening to feedback and responding.

There are so many more people behind the curtain at Google who live and breathe search or who want to help our users (or the world). If you get to know some more Googlers throughout 2007, that will make me happy. So if you go to SES NYC, find Evan Roseman from my team, tell him hello, and then tell him what you want to see Google working on. 🙂

P.S. I think the French article requested to hear more about my cats and the books I’ve been reading. I will try to oblige with some posts along those lines. 🙂

Canonicalization update

It’s almost not worth mentioning, but I know one website noticed this, so I’ll talk about it. Last week there was an update to how we canonicalize a small number of urls. What is “canonicalization” again? Read this previous post, or see this post by John Andrews to see all the ways that you can have the same content on urls that are technically different. Some people ask “Why don’t you just assume and are the same?” The answer is that they don’t have to be, and for some websites they are different. For example, is a different page than This happens more often than you might think; FindWhat has different www vs. non-www pages, for example.

Okay, back on topic. 🙂 The data for externally visible PageRank didn’t change. The only way someone would notice their PageRank changing last week is for example if they were checking for a different canonical url (e.g. externally visible PageRank is shown for, but Google changes the canonicalization from to

That’s a really rare situation, as evidenced by the fact that not many (any?) people in the blogosphere noticed any PageRanks changing. In general my advice is not to worry that much about changes in canonicalization (if you can see your PageRank on either one of or, Google generally has your PageRank stored and uses it correctly in scoring).

For the people who want to make sure that all their webmaster ducks are in a row on this topic, here’s my two-minute advice:
– Pick one way of writing all your urls and use that consistently in your pages and your links.
– If you pick (say) as your preferred root page, make sure that you have a permanent (301) redirect from pages such as to Michael Nguyen has a nice short post about how to do this in Apache, or Beyond Ink shows how to do a 301 redirect on several platforms.
– To be extra safe, feel free to use Google’s webmaster console to specify the preferred root page of your domain ( vs. Read this post by Vanessa for more details.

Whatever you decide, I recommend that you make sure that your choice is consistent. These short steps will help search engines refer to your site the way that you want people to refer to it.

March Sadness

North Carolina got knocked out of the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament by Georgetown today. The Hoyas played well, so I don’t begrudge them the win.

My usual litmus test for a good tournament is “Did one of my teams make it to the Final Four?” Kentucky got knocked out in the second round, but Kansas had a good team this year. And UNC almost made it to the Final Four but came up short in overtime today. Normally those two losses would count as a bad year in my book.

But Duke lost in the first round. To Virginia Commonwealth. And that tips it over to a good year for me. 🙂

Google Flair: Google Blog Bar

(Thanks to SEW for reminding me that I meant to write about this.)

Google recently introduced another nice piece of flair: a “Blog Bar” that lets you pick keywords, and then rotates through relevant posts by fading new links in and out. You can see it in action over on this post by Mark Lucovsky. You can also get a News bar, which is kind of fun too.

It’s really easy to get your own:

Step 1. Go to and click the “Blog Bar Wizard”.
Step 2. Choose the topics and formatting you want. When you click on “Generate code”, you’ll get some HTML that you can copy/paste onto your site. I wanted to keep my HTML clean, so I saved it as a separate file, like this file.
Step 3. If you saved the HTML off in a separate file, edit your website template and add this code wherever you want your blog bar to appear:

<iframe style=”border: 0px none ; width: 90%; height: 60px; margin-left: 1em; margin-top: 0.5em;” src=”” title=”Blog Bar” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

(Change the path to point to your file, of course.) That’s pretty much it. I’m going to put a blog bar (or maybe a news bar) on my individual posts above the comments for a little while to see how it looks. If you are looking for a way to spruce up a blog without much work, the blog and news bars are pretty easy.

Google Flair: Blog Buzz on Google Video

A little while ago, Ionut noticed that Google Video added a “Blog Buzz” section to its front page. The Blog Buzz shows videos that bloggers have been talking about and linking to recently.

So for example when The Lisa does a Friday Recap and links to this “Zeroes” parody of Heroes, our blogsearch team takes that blog post and other posts from around the web and then computes some buzzworthy videos to highlight. Huzzah! 🙂

I’m glad that our Video team added this, but I’m even more happy that the blogsearch folks are computing this data. Why? Google’s user interfaces are great for getting an answer quickly, but sometimes they can be a little.. functional. A little bit of fun flare is stickylicious and gives you more things to browse.

Now if you want, you can burn an extra few minutes getting sucked into watching even more videos. For example, I recently came across this awesome “fat rant” video (hint: it’s a healthy fat person railing against people who care more about weight than health). See also the Health at Every Size approach to life, but the video is a great way to get the basic idea.

Here’s a less serious example. Thanks to the Blog Buzz section on Google Video, I found out about the twirl a squirrel phenomenon and dropped a little cash to get one. It arrived tonight, but it was dark by the time I got it hooked up. I’ll let you know how my twirl-a-squirrel works. Muhahaha! 🙂

By the way, Twirl-a-Squirrel is still more humane than these methods of squirrel removal.