Google Search to explore the public archive of tweets

Today, Google introduced a new feature to help you search and explore the public archive of tweets.

With the advent of blogs and micro-blogs, there’s a constant online conversation about breaking news, people and places — some famous and some local. Tweets and other short-form updates create a history of commentary that can provide valuable insights into what’s happened and how people have reacted. We want to give you a way to search across this information and make it useful.

Starting today, you can zoom to any point in time and “replay” what people were saying publicly about a topic on Twitter. To try it out, click “Show options” on the search results page, then select “Updates.” The first page will show you the familiar latest and greatest short-form updates from a comprehensive set of sources, but now there’s a new chart at the top. In that chart, you can select the year, month or day, or click any point to view the tweets from that specific time period. Here we’ve searched for [golden gate park] and browsed to see March, 2010:


The chart shows the relative volume of activity on Twitter about the topic. As you can see, there are daily spikes in the afternoon (when parks are the most fun) and an unusually high spike on March 27. Clicking on the 27th, you’ll discover it was a sunny Saturday, which may explain the increased traffic on Twitter. People were tweeting about disc golf and tennis, biking, riding a party bus, craving chips and salsa…the kind of local, time-specific information that up until now would be almost impossible to find online.


By replaying tweets, you can explore any topic that people have discussed on Twitter. Want to know how the news broke about health care legislation in Congress, what people were saying about Justice Paul Stevens’ retirement or what people were tweeting during your own marathon run? These are the kinds of things you can explore with the new updates mode.

The replay feature is rolling out now and will be available globally in English within the next couple days (if you want to try it now, try out this special link). For our initial release, you can explore tweets going back to February 11, 2010, and soon you’ll be able to go back as far as the very first tweet on March 21, 2006.

All of us are just beginning to understand the many ways real-time information and short-form web content will be useful in the future, and we think being able to make use of historical information is an important part of that. As for me, after some hard work on real-time search, it’s time for a virtual vacation to relive one of my favorite moments of the Winter Games.

Posted by Dylan Casey, Product Manager for Real-Time Search

Google Search Site speed in web search ranking and Stars in mobile search

Here’s what’s happening this week in search:

Site speed in web search ranking
We made an announcement today about site speed and how it effects our search ranking algorithms. Check out the Webmaster Central blog for more information, including a number of free tools that you can use to increase the speed of your website.

Stars in mobile search
In early March, we announced stars in search, a feature that helps you mark and rediscover great content on the web. Recently, we extended this functionality to your mobile phone, so that you’re able to view that same favorite content on the go. So, if you’d previously starred sites for [cheesecake recipe] when planning a meal at home, searching for [cheesecake recipe] on your phone in the supermarket will help you rediscover the recipe search results that looked enticing — no need to make a grocery list. Stars work both ways, so if you mark a search result while on your phone, you’ll be able to see it later when you get to your desktop. This feature is currently supported on Android phones, iPhones/iPods and Palm WebOS devices in the U.S., and you need to be logged into your Google account for it to work.

Updates to Google Quick Scroll
In December we launched Google Quick Scroll, an extension for Chrome which uses Google’s search capabilities to help you jump directly to the portion of the page that’s relevant to your search query. Since December, we’ve brought Quick Scroll to all the languages and domains where Chrome extensions are available. We’ve also continued to make constant improvements to the tool, and recently we debuted a new version with a few useful updates.

Since Quick Scroll is all about getting you to information fast, it’s important that it appear quickly. So we’ve reduced the time it takes for the tool to pop up so you don’t have to wait as long. Also, if you’ve been using Quick Scroll for a while, you know that it doesn’t appear for every result — just when Google detects that only a portion of the page is relevant to your query. Now, even if Quick Scroll doesn’t appear after you click on a search result, an icon will show up in the address bar. Clicking on the icon will pop up the Quick Scroll box with an explanation of why it didn’t trigger on that page.

Here’s what it looks like:


Help for those who need it
A few months ago, we introduced a search feature that displays the toll-free U.S. poison control number when you search for related information. This got us thinking about other ways we can help people get clear information from Google search in times of crisis or distress. So we recently launched a feature that displays the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at the top of the results page for certain search queries in the U.S. We hope this quick access to information helps people in emotional distress who may benefit from calling a suicide prevention hotline.

Stay tuned for more updates next week.

Posted by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow

Improved Google Suggest interface & internationalization- Google Search

Improved Google Suggest interface & internationalization
In 2008, we launched Google Suggest to help you formulate queries, reduce spelling errors and save keystrokes. Since then, we’ve made a number of visual changes to Suggest for English-speaking users of google.com, including:

  • Boldface search suggestions to make it faster to scan the list of suggestions and find what you’re looking for
  • Adding the “Google Search” and “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons to the box so they’re still accessible even when the Suggest box is open
  • Removing the result counts, which previewed the number of results for each search, to simplify your experience

Given the popularity of these changes, we’ve just rolled them out in 50 languages across all 170 domains where Google Suggest is available. No matter where you are, we hope you find that Suggest is now faster and easier to use.


Real-time search in more languages
As you’ve probably noticed, on our search results page for Google.com in English now includes a dynamic stream of real-time content from popular sites like Facebook, FriendFeed, Jaiku, Identi.ca, MySpace and Twitter. Since we launched real-time search, we’ve continued to make significant improvements in the relevance technology. As of today, real-time search is available in 40 languages. Now when you’re visiting family in Puerto Rico, or if you speak German and live in Switzerland, you’ll be able to see live updates from people on these popular sites as well as news headlines and blog posts published just seconds before.

Refinements for local searches
Whether you’re looking for info close to home or while you’re traveling, it’s now easier to find things to do in the cities you’re searching for on Google. Now when you search for a city name, we’ll show you popular query refinements for places in those cities. We’ve found that people like to explore several places during a trip, so when we show one point of interest, we’ll also show you related points of interest. For instance, if you’re looking for food or a place to stay, you’ll also see some of the top category and neighborhood refinements to help you choose a place. This new feature will be rolling out over the next couple days for 200 U.S. cities, and in the coming weeks we’ll expand coverage to more cities internationally.

Example searches: [maui], [pikes place market] and [restaurants berkeley california]


Lists in Bookmarks
This week we introduced lists in Google Bookmarks, an experimental feature that helps you easily share sites with friends. With lists, you can sort and categorize your Google Bookmarks or starred search results. Once you’ve created a list, you can share it with specific friends or make it publicly visible and searchable (lists are private by default). Based on the content of your list, we’ll also generate suggestions for related links, so you can discover more helpful info related to a list you’re already building. We’re launching lists as an experimental feature, and it is available at www.google.com/bookmarks or by clicking the “Starred results” link on your search results page. From there, select the links you want to share and click “Copy to list.”

Example lists: [welcome to lists] and [seattle sites]


Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more search improvements next week.

Posted by Ben Gomes, Distinguished Engineer

Google.cn now Redirecting to Google.hk

On January 12, Google announced on this blog that Google and more than twenty other U.S. companies had been the victims of a sophisticated cyber attack originating from China, and that during our investigation into these attacks we had uncovered evidence to suggest that the Gmail accounts of dozens of human rights activists connected with China were being routinely accessed by third parties, most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on their computers. We also made clear that these attacks and the surveillance they uncovered—combined with attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the web in China including the persistent blocking of websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger—had led us to conclude that we could no longer continue censoring our results on Google.cn.

So earlier today we stopped censoring our search services—Google Search, Google News, and Google Images—on Google.cn. Users visiting Google.cn are now being redirected to Google.com.hk, where we are offering uncensored search in simplified Chinese, specifically designed for users in mainland China and delivered via our servers in Hong Kong. Users in Hong Kong will continue to receive their existing uncensored, traditional Chinese service, also from Google.com.hk. Due to the increased load on our Hong Kong servers and the complicated nature of these changes, users may see some slowdown in service or find some products temporarily inaccessible as we switch everything over.

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on Google.cn has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced—it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.

In terms of Google’s wider business operations, we intend to continue R&D work in China and also to maintain a sales presence there, though the size of the sales team will obviously be partially dependent on the ability of mainland Chinese users to access Google.com.hk. Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them. Despite all the uncertainty and difficulties they have faced since we made our announcement in January, they have continued to focus on serving our Chinese users and customers. We are immensely proud of them.

Posted by David Drummond, SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

Google search now supports Haitian Kreyòl

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Last week Google added Haitian Kreyòl as a language to Google search. Visitors to Haitian homepage can now use search in English, French and Kreyòl.

Haitian Kreyòl is spoken by more than 10 million people in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora in the Bahamas, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, France, French Guiana, Puerto Rico and the United States.

The massive earthquake that recently stuck Haiti took a heavy toll on communication infrastructure (including TV, radio and newspapers). In the weeks following the earthquake, the Internet has become an important tool for Haitians to search for news and information. We previously added support for Haitian Kreyòl to Google Translate and we are happy that Google search can now be used the Haitian people in their native language.

We would like to thank the Haitian volunteers who heard our call for volunteer translators and generously shared their time and knowledge to improve the search experience for all Haitians.

Posted by Christine Multidor, Engineering Recruiting Coordinator, on behalf of the Internationalization Team

Google Search with Locking SafeSearch and Microdata support

Locking SafeSearch now in 39 languages
Last November, we announced the option to password protect your SafeSearch setting and filter out sexually explicit web sites and images from your search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, SafeSearch Lock helps you avoid content you may prefer not to see or would rather your children did not stumble across. We’re pleased to roll this out globally in 39 more languages. It’s easy to set your preference, and once you do, you’ll see a visible change to your search page. Even from across the room, you’ll be able to see bright colored balls on the top of the screen. Check out this video to learn more.

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Microdata support for Rich Snippets
HTML (hypertext markup language) is the core language of the web. And since it was created, HTML5 has become the fifth major revision of HTML. What’s different about HTML5? The specification includes a description of microdata, a new markup standard for specifying structured information within web pages. Paritcularly of interest to webmasters, this week we were excited to announce support for microdata for use in rich snippets in addition to our existing support for microformats and RDFa.

By using microdata markup when web pages are created, you can specify reviews, people profiles, or events information on your web pages that Google may use to improve their presentation in Google search results.

To learn more about rich snippets and microdata support, here are some links:

Stay tuned for next week’s post on launches, more enhancements and news about search.

Posted by Jen Fitzpatrick, VP, Engineering

Motorola To Replaces Google Search With Bing On Chinese Android Phones

Motorola, stalwart of freedom, will work with Chinese carriers to add Bing to Chinese Android-based phones, ousting Google Search and Maps from the scene. Now this isn’t meanness on Motorola’s part although Reuters notes that this move could have something to do with that whole Great Chinese Google Hacking Incident a few weeks ago.

New Features in Google Search 03-07-2010

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs weekly. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

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This week’s enhancements include:

Stars in search
Every day, we work to improve the four key components of search: comprehensiveness, latency, user experience and relevance. Of these, relevance is dramatically enhanced by more personalized results. This week, we announced a new feature that makes it much easier to mark and rediscover your favorite content. Stars in search are just like the stars you see in Google Toolbar or in Maps — they act like bookmarks. When you star a search result, and it happens to appear again in future results, you’ll see that you already found that particular result. Starred items will appear at the top of your results. Stars in search has been rolling out this week, and will be available globally for all users who are signed in to their Google account.

Auto-spell for images
This week, we unveiled automatic spell correction for images. In cases where we’re highly confident you had intended to type something else, we’ll replace results from the typo query with those from the spell-corrected version — just like when you misspell a query in Google search. Ultimately, this change will reduce the time it takes to get you the result you’re looking for (and that’s a good thing).

Example searches: [butterflys], [roman architecture] and [apollo ohno]

Sidewiki page owner entry
In September, we launched Sidewiki, which lets you contribute helpful information to any webpage using a sidebar in Google Toolbar or a Chrome extension. Afterward, webmasters asked, “How can I quickly put Sidewiki on all pages of my site?” Now webmasters can create a special entry, called a page owner entry, that appears above all entries written by users. Webmaster tool improvements ultimately create a better web experience for us all, so we’re pleased about this. Let us know what you think about our webmaster enhancements.

Posted by Johanna Wright, Director of Product Management, Search

Google Adds starts to its search results

We’ve long believed that personalization makes search more relevant and fun. For nearly five years, we’ve been tailoring results with personalized search. Today we’re announcing a new feature in search that makes it easier for you to mark and rediscover your favorite web content — stars.

With stars, you can simply click the star marker on any search result or map and the next time you perform a search, that item will appear in a special list right at the top of your results when relevant. That means if you star the official websites for your favorite football teams, you might see those results right at the top of your next search for [nfl]. Here’s what the new “Starred results” feature looks like:


The great thing about stars is that you don’t have to keep track of them. You don’t even have to remember whether or not you starred something. Simply perform a search and you’ll rediscover your starred items right when you need them. Stars sync with your Google Bookmarks and the Google Toolbar, so you can always see your list of starred items in one place and easily organize them. Even beyond the results page, while browsing the web you can quickly click the star icon in Toolbar to create a bookmark, and those pages will start showing up in the new stars feature.

Stars in search replace SearchWiki. In our testing, we learned that people really liked the idea of marking a website for future reference, but they didn’t like changing the order of Google’s organic search results. With stars, we’ve created a lightweight and flexible way for people to mark and rediscover web content. For people who like annotations, we have Sidewiki, a more powerful way for people to contribute and discover helpful information next to pages across the Internet. All your existing SearchWiki edits will be preserved with your Google Account. You can learn more on our help center.

Stars in search are rolling out in the next couple days and will be available globally for all signed-in users.

Now Google Real-Time Search Now Includes Facebook Status Updates

Google has just announced via tweet that it’s integrating Facebook Page updates into its real-time search results. Google first revealed that this was coming back in December, when it first started including real-time data in its search results. Other data sources for Google’s real-time results include MySpace and Twitter.

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The only problem with the new addition is that Facebook is only granting Google access to updates from its 3 million Pages, which are generally for celebrities, politicians, brands, and local businesses — not your average Facebook user. That information could occasionally be useful, but the power of real-time search comes from having a large number of contributors. Facebook has a huge amount of data from its 400 million active users, but it isn’t sharing most of that with Google. Instead, it’s only granting full acess to user updates to Bing (though that isn’t live yet).  Bing will still only be getting status updates that are shared with /06/24“Everyone“, but with its recent privacy overhaul in December, Facebook ensured that it would have far more of those than it used to.

Unlike Twitter, which is reportedly making money off of its search deals with Bing and Google, Facebook isn’t charging the search engines for its data. According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, Facebook is giving away the status updates because they may drive more people back to the social network.