Friday, December 31, 2010

[Gd] GTAC #5: videos, slides, abstracts

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Google Testing Blog: GTAC #5: videos, slides, abstracts

The published content for this year's GTAC is finally available. You can find the links to all the material below and also at the GTAC site. Other interesting artifacts can be found via Google Search or Twitter or Facebook..

On behalf of the Committee and Google I want to thank all the speakers, attendees and volunteers who made this event a great professional engagement. Some moments of the conference are captured in

Looking forward to next year’s GTAC in the city of Google’s headquarters.

Happy Holidays.
Sujay Sahni for the GTAC 2010 Committee

Day 1

Welcome and Opening Remarks
Sujay Sahni, Google Inc. & GTAC Committee Chair
video slides

Day 1 Opening Keynote
What Testability Tells us About the Software Performance Envelope
Robert Victor Binder, Founder and CEO, mVerify
video slides abstract

Twist, a next generation functional testing tool for building and evolving test suites
Vivek Prahlad, ThoughtWorks
video slides abstract

The Future of Front-End Testing
Greg Dennis & Simon Stewart, Google Inc.
video slides abstract

Lightning Talks/Interactive Session
GTAC Attendees
video slides

Testivus on Testability
Alberto Savoia, Google Inc.
video slides

Lessons Learned from Testability Failures
Esteban Manchado Velázquez, Opera Software ASA
video slides abstract

Git Bisect and Testing
Christian Couder
video slides abstract

Flexible Design? Testable Design? You Don’t Have To Choose!
Russ Rufer & Tracy Bialik, Google Inc.
video slides abstract

Day 2

Day 2 Opening Keynote
Automatically Generating Test Data for Web Applications
Jeff Offutt, Professor of Software Engineering, Volgenau School of Information and Technology, George Mason University
video slides abstract

Early Test Feedback by Test Prioritisation
Shin Yoo, University College London & Robert Nilsson, Google Inc.
video slides abstract

Measuring and Monitoring Experience in Interactive Streaming Applications
Shreeshankar Chatterjee, Adobe Systems India
video slides abstract

Crowd Source Testing, Mozilla Community Style
Matt Evans, Mozilla
video slides abstract

Lightning Talks/Interactive Session
GTAC Attendees
video slides

Closing Keynote - Turning Quality on its Head
James Whittaker, Engineering Director, Google Inc.
video slides abstract

Closing Panel Discussion
GTAC Attendees

Closing Remarks
Sujay Sahni, Google Inc. & GTAC Committee Chair
video slides

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[Gd] Holiday reminder about IDs

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AdWords API Blog: Holiday reminder about IDs

Whether you recently updated your code or just started with the AdWords API, please keep in mind that IDs of all entities are represented as xsd:long (64 bit signed integer) values. It is important to note that if your code stores ID values in a data type with lower range, the value may suffer from integer overflow.

As always, please post any questions to the AdWords API Forum.

-- Stan Grinberg, AdWords API Team

[Gd] "It's on Google! YAY!" - Getting webmaster help in our forum

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: "It's on Google! YAY!" - Getting webmaster help in our forum

Webmaster level: all

It's been a bit more than five years now that our Webmaster Help Forum has been up and running, helping webmasters around the world. Over the years, over tens of thousands of users have discussed various topics in well over 100,000 threads, helping each other to improve their websites and to solve a variety of issues that web publishers are confronted with. Among those users is a group that we call the "Bionic Posters," users who have proven to be consistently helpful and knowledgeable, selflessly helping others to tackle seemingly insurmountable problems.

It's great to have such an awesome community -- but thanks is best said by those who are helped. Here is some of the feedback that we collected this year:
  • "Thank you for the time you have spent helping me. It is genuinely appreciated."
  • "Thank you to everyone who helped with my problem! My creaky old 1996 era website is all cleaned up and doing just fine now! Good Guys Rule!"
  • "WOW!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for your help! I was reluctant to post because I thought you guys might think my site is too small, too insignificant, etc. Thanks so much! To me, it's a BIG deal!"
  • "My traffic has doubled and I am now either top or close to the top in search terms"
  • "Thanks. Hopefully my late night paid off then, all the help and information has been great!!!!!!!"
  • "Wow Webado Thank You Again.. You Really Know Your stuff! (…) You Are a True professional and Seriously The Only Person That Could Even Figure This out. I even Spoke to Other Top Specialists and YOU were the Only one who told me what to do and what was wrong."
  • "You are AMAZING! Thank you so much!"
  • "Finally, thanks so much for your concern and prompt reply, Squibble. Can't imagine a person would deligated his efforts to someones you don't even know and met. (…) Thanks for your help!! It means everything to me!"
  • "Wow thanks so much! I have just been to the hot springs in Banos Ecuador, the volcano is rumbling and the town has evacuated but I am still here talking Apache, now that is dedication, I will test your helpfulness out 2moro! Thanks so much!!!"
  • "It worked! Thank you very much for your help Cristina :)"
  • "I could NEVER have seen what's possible without this forum. I am so grateful."
  • "Thank you so much for your detailed response to my questions. In 10 years of me having a website, no one has explained these concepts better to me than you did."
  • "IT WORKED!!! Thank you so much for saving me the grief and embarrassment of this problem. I truly appreciate both your knowledge and guidance."
  • "Thank you so much for such a detailed answer and putting into terms I can easily understand. (…) Where shall I send the batch of brownies?"
  • "Thank you so much Squibble you are a hero. I have done what it says and i will check to see if i appear in google! Thanks again!"
  • "you guys are amazing! thank you so much redleg! (…) and if you happen to ever be in san carlos give me a shout - you deserve at least a beer and a lunch! "
  • "Thank you Squibble, Vanessa, Cristina, and Ishigaki for weighing in on this and helping me. I hope I can pay it forward one day."
  • "Great info Guys. I really appreciate it. It was awesome of y'all to help me out. I really appreciate it. Thank you."
  • "Your amazing :-) i love you lol xx im sorted now thanks and never in a million years would i have found that out!"
  • "THANK YOU! I love Google and appreciate that they have these safety precautions in place for those nasty hackets - especially when we can fix the problem! Thanks so much for your help. Whew."
  • "Thank you very much, Robbo! With a little tweaking it worked perfectly!"
  • "yay!!! I think it finally went through - THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!"

If you have a question that you would like to ask, a problem that you need help with, we'd love to see you in the forums! We just ask that you please take the time to read through our frequently asked questions, and search the forum before posting. Chances are high that a question like yours has already been answered. Tell us a little bit about yourself and then join us to learn more and help others!

Posted by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

[Gd] New Fonts for the New Year

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Google Web Fonts: New Fonts for the New Year

The Google Font team is excited to announce the addition of a handful of high-quality web fonts for you to use freely on your website or blog. With this addition, the Google Font Directory has almost doubled in font selection compared to last month! We'd like to thank the font designers responsible for such a great collection of premium (and free) web fonts.

To use any of these new web fonts, simply click the "Use this font" tab on any of the font pages and paste the snippet into your pages. Google will take care of the rest. Without further delay, here is the all star lineup:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

[Gd] Sending Video Sitemaps Q&A holiday cheer

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Sending Video Sitemaps Q&A holiday cheer

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

To the fabulous, savvy audience that attended our Video Sitemap webinar several months ago, please accept our re-gift: a summary of your questions from the Video Sitemaps Q&A!

To those who were unable to attend the webinar, please enjoy our gift of the summarized Q&A -- it’s like new!

Either way, happy holidays from all of us on the Webmaster Central Team. :)

Our entire webinar covers the basics of Video Sitemaps and best practices -- nearly everything you’d need to know when submitting a video feed.

  1. Can the source/content of the video (perhaps a third-party vendor) be hosted on another site? For example, can I host my videos on YouTube and still be eligible for Video Search traffic?

    Yes, you can use a third party to host videos. Only the play page--the URL within the <loc> tag--needs to be on your site. <video:content_loc> and <video:player_loc> can list URLs on a different site or subdomain.

    For example, here’s a snippet from a valid Video Sitemap that shows content hosted on a different subdomain from the play page:

          <video:title>Grilling steaks for summer</video:title>
          <video:description>Alkis shows you how to get perfectly done steaks every time</video:description>
          <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes" autoplay="ap=1"></video:player_loc>

  2. If I’m using YouTube to host my videos, can Google verify that I’m the legitimate owner?

    Currently, there doesn’t exist functionality that allows you, as the uploader, to verify that you’re the owner of a video. The issue of authorship is a hard problem on the web, not just for videos, but nearly all types of content.

  3. Because Google owns YouTube, should users who embed YouTube videos still submit Video Sitemaps or is it unnecessary?

    Google treats YouTube as just another source for video content -- though you don’t need to submit a Video Sitemap if you only want your YouTube-hosted videos indexed. If, however, you’re using YouTube as a online video platform (i.e., with play pages on your own site), then we do recommend Sitemap submission.

  4. How long does it take for Google to accept and verify a Video Sitemap?

    Video Sitemap submission is a two-part process:

    1. We fetch the Sitemap and parse it for syntax errors. This happens within minutes.

    2. We fetch the assets referenced in the Sitemap, perform checks, validate metadata, do more cool stuff, and last, index the video. This step can require varied amounts of time depending on your site and our system load.

  5. What tags and categories are most important in Video Sitemaps or mRSS? Should I create my own categories or is there a list that I should conform to?

    Currently, the most important metadata to include is title and description -- both are required. The category tag is optional, and there isn’t a list from which to select.

  6. Do I have to use HTML5 to use Video Sitemaps?
    Does HTML5 help with discovery?
    Or, if my site is HTML5 compliant, do I still need to submit a Video Sitemap?

    None of the Video Search principles change with HTML5. We still recommend using a Video Sitemap regardless of the markup on your site. HTML5 can be helpful, though, because tags like <video> make it easier for our systems to verify that video exists on the page.

  7. If I use an iframe rather than embedding my videos, can Google still find it?

    We do not recommend using iframes to embed video content on your pages.

  8. Can I have multiple videos on one URL?

    You can. We’ve found, however, that users may not consider it the best experience. When users click on a video search result, they most often don’t like being forced to locate the correct video among multiple videos on the resulting page.

  9. Do I need to specifically create a robots.txt file that allows Googlebot, or do I just need to make sure Googlebot isn’t blocked?

    Just make sure that Googlebot isn’t blocked.

  10. I provided a thumbnail, but it’s not being used. Does Google create their own thumbnails from my videos?

    We try to use the thumbnail you provide if it’s valid. If not, we’ll try to generate a thumbnail ourselves. We recommend that you provide thumbnails that are at least 120x90 pixels. We also accept many thumbnail formats, such as PNG and JPEG.

  11. Any video filesize limitations?

    At this time, there aren’t video filesize limitations on content submitted through VIdeo Sitemaps.

  12. Is there any way to indicate a transcript or closed captioning for a video?

    Currently there isn’t, but perhaps down the road.

  13. What if I’m using Lightbox or a popup to display a video; can it still be indexed?

    Depends on the use case and how it’s rendered, but if indexing by search engines is important to you, it’s not the safest method. In the Webmaster Help Center, we explain that “When designing your site, it's important to configure your video pages without any overly complex JavaScript or Flash setup.” Most often, for bots, simpler is safer.
Have a safe and happy holiday!

Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead

Friday, December 24, 2010

[Gd] Improving our help content: stocking stuffers in our Help Center

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Improving our help content: stocking stuffers in our Help Center

Webmaster Level: All

We provide lots of information for webmasters across many different channels — you can stay up to date with the latest features here on our blog, browse articles in our Help Center, have discussions in our forums (in 17 languages!), watch videos on our YouTube channel, or even read in-depth interviews (in English, Portuguese, and other languages).

There’s no shortage of useful information, but sometimes the relevant bits may be a bit difficult to locate, especially for novice webmasters. We see the same questions popping up over and over again, so we’ve tried to make our most frequently searched information as accessible and visible as possible:
We analysed the questions asked over the past year and a half and identified the issues you are most interested in. We then picked out the relevant bits from across our different resources and collected the answers to those questions in one new convenient FAQ page in our Help Center (available in 20 languages).

We also frequently get questions on how to get in touch with us, so we’ve put together all the different ways you can:
...tell us about a page you want to remove from our search results;
...tell us about spam you found;
...let us know when you’ve fixed issues on your website;
...and many more! All of these contact channels are now listed conveniently in one article with direct links to the relevant forms: Webmaster help and contacts (available from the homepage of our Help Center, also in 20 languages).

Now isn’t that a nice stocking stuffer (-:?
Happy webmastering in 2011, and keep the feedback coming!

Posted by Mariya Moeva, Search Quality Team, Dublin

Thursday, December 23, 2010

[Gd] A Chrome Extension for YouTube Activity Feeds

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YouTube API Blog: A Chrome Extension for YouTube Activity Feeds

Slave Jovanovski, an engineer at YouTube, has put together a Google Chrome extension that should be of interest to the YouTube API community. It’s called YouTube Feed, and after installing and authenticating with your YouTube account, it automatically will fetch your YouTube social activity stream (both subscriptions and friends’ actions) while you use Google Chrome. When a new event, like a YouTube friend uploading or commenting on a video, takes place, the extension will notify you and provide details on the activity, as well as links to view the actual video. You have control over which types of activities you’d like to be notified about, as well as how frequently you’d like the extension to check for updates.

While you’ll hopefully find the extension useful on its own merits, the fact that the source code has been released as part of an open source project means that the extension’s code can serve as inspiration (or a jumping off point) for writing your own JavaScript code that interacts with the YouTube API. Curious as to how to use OAuth to authenticate YouTube accounts from a Chrome Extension? Or request JSON data with a JavaScript callback? The answers await you in the source code!

–Jeff Posnick, YouTube API Team

[Gd] Webinar and GTAC Followup

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Google Testing Blog: Webinar and GTAC Followup

By James Whittaker

I've given all the talks I am going to give and said all that I am going to say for 2010. Breath a sigh of relief and raise your glasses to the sweet sound of silence.

The aftermath of the uTest webinar is here. Thanks to uTest for hosting and putting up with me.

My GTAC 2010 talk is here. But far better is my introduction by Testivus. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hereby declare insults to be out-and-out envy. To our female readers, you may need to have some understanding of the male penchant for funny insults - it's a weird guy thing. But I don't care who you are ... this stuff is funny! And to answer your question: NO I did not see Alberto's video of me before I spoke. It was all new to me.

Hope to see you next year in the blog-o-sphere and at a couple of conferences. I'll be (at least) at GTAC 2011 which is in Mountain View and Euro STAR in Manchester, England (will lecture for a ticket to a Premier League football match).

Much more to come in the new year. Peace to all.

[Gd] Video Sitemaps & mRSS vs. Facebook Share & RDFa

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Video Sitemaps & mRSS vs. Facebook Share & RDFa

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

What are the benefits of submitting feeds like Video Sitemaps and mRSS vs. the benefits of Facebook Share and RDFa? Is one better than the other? Let’s start the discussion.

Functionality of feeds vs. on-page markup

Google accepts information from both video feeds, such as Video Sitemaps and mRSS, as well as on-page markup, such as Facebook Share and RDFa. We recommend that you use both!

If you have limited resources, however, here’s a chart explaining the pros and cons of each method. The key differentiators include:
  • While both feeds and on-page markup give search engines metadata, Video Sitemaps/mRSS also help with crawl discovery. We may find a new URL through your feed that we wouldn’t have easily discovered otherwise.

  • Using Video Sitemaps/mRSS requires that the search engine support these formats and not all engines do. Because on-page markup is just that -- on the page -- crawlers can gather the metadata through organic means as they index the URL. No feed support is required.

(Video Sitemaps & mRSS)
On-page markup
(Facebook Share & RDFa)
Accepted by Google
Helps search engines discover new URLs with videos (improves discovery and coverage)
Provides structured metadata (e.g. video title and description)
Allows search engines without sitemap/mRSS support to still obtain metadata information (allows organic gathering of metadata)
Incorporates additional metadata like “duration”

If you’re further wondering about the benefits of specific feeds (Video Sitemaps vs. mRSS), we can help with clarification there, too. First of all, you can use either. We’re agnostic. :) One benefit of Video Sitemaps is that, because it’s a format we’re actively enhancing, we can quickly extend it to allow for more specifications.

All this said, if you’re going to start from scratch, Video Sitemaps is our recommended start.

 Video SitemapsmRSS
Accepted by Google
Been around for a long, long time and pretty widely accepted
Extremely quick for Google Video Search team to extend

“Starving” to start conversation about feeds or on-page markup? Join us in the Sitemaps section of the Webmaster discussion forum.

Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead

[Gd] Ring in the new year with accessible content: Website clinic for non-profits

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Ring in the new year with accessible content: Website clinic for non-profits

Webmaster level: Beginner

Cross-posted on the Google Grants Blog

In our previous post, we did some source code housekeeping -- just in time for the holidays. But once users have landed on your site, how can you make sure they’ll know how to get around?

As it turns out, easily accessible content on your site can make a big difference. Users tend to have a better experience when a site helps them find and understand its content. Having an accessible site not only empowers users, it also helps search engines understand what your site is really about.

So if you’ve resolved to boost your site’s user experience and online presence for the new year, improving your content accessibility is a great way to start. Thankfully, there are tons of features you can add to make your site more accessible. In this post, we’ll highlight three of them:
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Concise, descriptive anchor text for links
  • Unique, accurate page titles throughout the site
Intuitive navigation
Help users avoid confusion by providing them with intuitive navigation, so that when they arrive at your site, they’ll know where to click to find the information they’re looking for.

Here are three features you can implement in order to lead your users down the right path:
  • Navigational menu: Having a menu with links to the site’s most important pages is the fastest, easiest way to show users where to click next.
  • Text-based links: While drop-down menus, image-based links, and animation-based links can be appealing, keep in mind that users on text-only devices and some search engines may not be able to see or understand these links. Thus, many users prefer text-based links, which are also easier for search engines to crawl and interpret.
  • User-viewable site map: 59% of our submissions did not have a user-viewable site map. By providing one, you display the structure of your site and give the user easy one-click navigation. If users are having trouble finding specific pages on your site, a site map can help them find their way. Don’t send your users into the wild without a map!
Let’s explore how these features can make a site’s navigation more intuitive by looking at one of our submitted sites, Philanthropedia.

Thanks to this site’s clean navigational menu, users can find all of the site’s important pages within a few clicks. Wherever users end up on the site, they can always click on the “Home” button to return to the main page, or on any of the links in the menu to return to the site’s important subpages. Like all of the links on this site, the links in the navigational menu are text-based links, which make it easier for both search engines and users to access the site’s content. Finally, Philanthropedia has included a user-viewable site map, shown below, in case visitors are looking for a specific page not listed in the main menu.

Concise, descriptive anchor text for links
Anchor text -- the clickable text of a link -- can help users quickly decide which links they want to click on and find out more about. Meaningful anchor text makes it easier for users to navigate around your site and also helps search engines understand what the link’s destination page is about.

20% of our submissions could improve their sites by improving the anchor text used in some of their internal links. When writing anchor text, keep two things in mind:
  • Be descriptive: Use words that are relevant to the destination page, avoiding generic phrases like “click here” or “article.” Make sure the user can get a snapshot of the destination page’s overall content and functionality by reading the anchor text.
  • Keep it concise: Anchor text that contains a few words or a short phrase is more attractive and convenient for users to read than a sentence or paragraph-long link.
Let’s take a look at how anchor text played out in two user-submitted examples:

OrganizationAnchor Text ExamplesUser FriendlinessAnchor Text Behavior
The Mosaic ProjectWork for Mosaic

Order Our Curriculum Guide

Outdoor School
High: Users can get an accurate idea of the content on the links’ destination pages just by reading the anchor text.Active verb phrases and rich nouns accurately describe the pages that the links are pointing to.
Asian Liver CenterLearn more

Low: The anchor text is too generic and does not give users an idea of what the linked-to content is. Generic phrases give little insight into the pages that the links are pointing to.

You can learn more about anchor text and internal linking strategies by checking out this blog post on the importance of link architecture.

Unique, accurate page titles throughout the site
Each page on your site is different, so flaunt your site’s diversity by giving a unique title to each page. Giving each page a unique title lets search engines know how that page is distinct from others within your site. In our analysis, over 28% of sites could have improved their site quality by adding unique page titles.

Let’s check out a few more examples to see what a difference unique, accurate page titles can make:

OrganizationPage Title ExamplesUser FriendlinessPage Title Behavior
VAMS InternationalUpcoming Events | VAMS International

Request Service | VAMS International

FAQ’s | VAMS International

High: Each page’s content is relevant to its title, and the user can get a good idea of each page’s unique offerings and functionality.Concise, rich language joined with the organization’s name accurately describes the corresponding pages. The titles show how each page is unique while also acknowledging that they are all associated with one organization.
MHCD Evaluation and ResearchMHCD Evaluation and ResearchLow: This site contains a lot of diverse content and rich functionality; however, the uniform page titles do not convey these strengths.This page title is too general and does not accurately describe the content on each page. The same title is used across all the pages on this site.

Wrapping things up
We hope that this blog post has given you some ideas on how to ring in the new year with improved content accessibility, which can boost the user experience and online presence for your site.

To learn more about the features discussed here and in our previous two site clinic posts, check out our SEO Report Card and SEO Starter Guide.

This blog post wraps up our website clinic for non-profits. We send our warmest regards to all the great non-profit causes you are working on, and thanks to everyone who took the time to submit their sites and read our posts!

Posted by Jen Lee and Alexi Douvas, Search Quality Evaluation Team
Contributors: Aditya Goradia, Brandon Falls, Charlene Perez, Diara Dankert, Michael Wyszomierski, and Nelson Bradley