Posted:
Despite all the development we've done for our AdWords program, much more remains to be built. Fortunately there's no shortage of good ideas outside the Googleplex -- our community of users is amazingly expert and innovative and knows exactly what features they want. Many successful companies fall prey to the NIH ("Not Invented Here") syndrome, but as hard as we try, not every talented developer is working at Google. Which is why we've just announced the arrival of the AdWords API beta.

The AdWords API beta program is an open invitation to developers to explore new concepts (and then write great software) for managing Google AdWords advertising campaigns. Large advertisers can use it for their complex ad management needs, like tying product margins to optimized keyword bids. Third parties can use the API to build new interfaces to manage their client accounts. Best of all, an API enables the creation of all sorts of unanticipated ideas. In our experience, it's better to wear "Not Invented Here" as a badge of honor than as a chip on your shoulder. Come sign up for a developer token and show us what we've been missing.

- Josh McFarland, Product Manager
- Nelson Minar, Software Engineer

Posted:
Last year some friends and I visited Wisconsin for a wedding and had a couple days to kill. What to do? The groom recommended some spots to visit, a certain cheese factory in particular, but the websites I found weren't very helpful; just a few pictures and descriptions, not enough to really give the flavor of the place. In other words (you'd better sit down for this), this was an instance in which the Web didn't have the information I needed.

But the night we arrived, I turned on the TV in my hotel room, started flipping channels, and was idly watching some travel show when a thought hit me: surely someone, somewhere must have produced a travel show episode about Wisconsin, maybe even about that cheese factory. But of course there was no way to find it.

Soon there will be. Google Video is a new product that enables you to search an index of transcripts from recent TV programs. It's just an early-stage beta product at this point; you'll only see stills and text snippets from shows that match your search terms, and you can only search shows from a few channels, dating back to December, 2004, when we started compiling the index. But we'll be steadily improving Google Video in the months to come, so as they say in the TV biz, stay tuned.

Oh, and by the way, the cheese factory was really cool.

John Piscitello
Product Manager

Posted:
If you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.

We hope the web software community will quickly adopt this attribute and we're pleased that a number of blog software makers have already signed on:

Brad Fitzpatrick - LiveJournal
Dave Winer - Scripting News
Anil Dash - Six Apart
Steve Jenson - Blogger
Matt Mullenweg - WordPress
Stewart Butterfield - Flickr
Anthony Batt - Buzznet
David Czarnecki - blojsom
Rael Dornfest - Blosxom
Mike Torres - MSN Spaces

We've also discussed this issue with colleagues at our fellow search engines and would like to thank MSN Search and Yahoo! for supporting this initiative. Here are a few guidelines for anyone else who wants to join the cause.

Q: How does a link change?
A: Any link that a user can create on your site automatically gets a new "nofollow" attribute. So if a blog spammer previously added a comment like

Visit my <a href="http://www.example.com/">discount pharmaceuticals</a> site.

That comment would be transformed to

Visit my <a href="http://www.example.com/" rel="nofollow">discount pharmaceuticals</a> site.

Q: What types of links should get this attribute?
A: We encourage you to use the rel="nofollow" attribute anywhere that users can add links by themselves, including within comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists. Comment areas receive the most attention, but securing every location where someone can add a link is the way to keep spammers at bay.

Q: Should I put rel="nofollow" on the link to my comments page?
A: Probably not, because lots of interesting discussion can happen there. Also, if other people link to your comments page, a spider can follow that link and find any spam that's lurking on the comments page.

The best places to add this attribute are the actual links that other people can create. So on this page, for instance, only the links within comments and the link immediately after "Posted by:" would get the rel="nofollow" attribute.

Q: Do individual bloggers need to do anything?
A: Probably not. Updating the software that generates these pages will ensure that most bloggers get these changes automatically.

Q: Is this a blog-only change?
A: No. We think any piece of software that allows others to add links to an author's site (including guestbooks, visitor stats, or referrer lists) can use this attribute. We're working primarily with blog software makers for now because blogs are such a common target.

Got more questions? Email commentspam at google.com. As we spot more areas where spammers still abuse the Web, we'll contact the appropriate people in order to keep fighting comment spam.

Matt Cutts, Google Software Engineer
Jason Shellen, Blogger Program Manager

Update: The reaction to nofollow has really been quite positive, especially considering how diverse the web is. We're delighted to announce more support for nofollow:

Ross Rader - Blogware
John Panzer - AOL Journals
Kevin Marks - of Technorati also added a draft formal spec for nofollow.
Reini Urban - PhpWiki
David Gorman - ModBlog
Arnab Nandi - Drupal
James Tauber - Leonardo
Jeremie Bouillon - points out a GPL plugin for Textpattern
Simon Brown - Pebble
Ilkka Huotari - Netdoc
Shaun Inman - ShortStat
Eaden McKee - bBlog
Yariv Habot - backBlog
John Lyons - enetation
Steven Roussey - Network54
Will Yardley - Dreambook
[Update] Samuel Klingen Daams - Travellerspoint

We also wanted to add another question from a reader:

Q: Will Google recognize the 'nofollow' keyword when it's part of a space separated list? According to the HTML spec, the value of the 'rel' attribute is a space separated list of link types.
A: Absolutely. We'll practice the "be liberal in what you accept" philosophy, which means recognizing spaces, commas and, in fact, most punctuation. But we strongly recommend using spaces as separators to follow the specification.

Posted:
Ever since we launched the first version of Picasa back in October, 2002, all of us on the Picasa team have been making lists of features we'd like to add. Now, six months after we joined Google, Picasa 2 is ready, and we're dying to show you all the cool new stuff you can do with your digital pictures. At the top of the list are the things our users have been asking for: more editing features and organizing options, CD burning, picture captioning, and integration with online photo services. But there are little touches, too. Check out this photo collage:



Of course, Picasa 2 works great with other Google services; you can post pictures to your own blog with the Blogger button, order print supplies through Froogle, and send pictures using Gmail. And somehow our engineering team made Picasa 2 run just as fast, even on slower machines.

It's been an amazing experience to become part of Google and have all of their resources behind us. But at the core, it's the same group of Picasa engineers and designers who've been hard at work for more than a year to bring you this major new release. I'm incredibly proud of their accomplishment and I hope you'll share my excitement when you give Picasa 2 a try.

Download it here -- it's still totally free and it'll only take a minute because it's still only 3 megabytes (how do they do that?).

Keep clicking!

Lars Perkins
General Manager, Picasa

Posted:
In the realm of the Internet, there's no shortage of acronyms for all the parts of a web address. Top-level domains like .com, .org and .edu are, logically enough, "TLDs." Then there are country codes like .es (Espana, or Spain) and .kr (Korea), which are referred to in some circles as ccTLDs. Though we try hard to avoid such puzzling shortcuts, we do add country and territory domains to our roster when we can. Now Indonesia, South Africa, Tonga, Bolivia, Krgyszstan, Jamaica, Belize, Seychelles, the Virgin Islands and the Cook Islands join more than 100 other countries and territories with a Google of their own, so people can restrict searches to their country or their language.

Sean Knapp
Software Engineer

Posted:
By and large, big companies have gotten the word: offering good search is good for business. Customers are happier (and more likely to buy something) when they can quickly find the right information on a website. Employees are more productive when they actually find what they need on their networks. They don't have to reinvent the wheel, bug the IT department (or their colleagues), or sift through directories and files.

Having good search used to be a bit out of reach for small and medium-sized businesses. So, we shrunk Google into a new blue box. Smaller than the original Google Search Appliance, the Google Mini looks like this...



And with a price of $4995, it's practically an impulse buy at the Google Store. Now small and medium-sized organizations with up to 50,000 online documents can get Google search for their own websites and intranets, like this productive-looking team from DeAnza College.



Rajen Sheth
Product Manager

Posted:
A few years ago, despite being a big fan of Google, I turned down a job offer here, mainly because I thought it was too late to make an impact. After all, the company had 200+ people and a very established and successful product. But last year, I did join Google, and since then I've heard the same argument from a few friends whom I have tried to recruit.

Because Google's ongoing commitment is building technologies and products that organize the world's information and make it useful and accessible, we've come up with products like Gmail, Google Desktop, and Google Print. And we're currently working on more products, and improving existing ones, to further deliver on this mission. We're very far from being done: there are a lot of exciting problems left.

Aside from working with smart people on solutions that can make an impact on the world, I've learned that Google has a few other attributes that make it unique. Through our research, we're able to develop systems here such as MapReduce or GFS that make it easier to build scalable distributed systems (and for that matter, build products faster than most startups can). What's more, Google has an amazingly cool and passionate work environment - and a strong commitment to technical excellence so that we can build the best products to help people all around the globe.

So if you're thinking that it's too late to make an impact at Google, I challenge you to think again. It turns out that today there are more chances to make your mark than ever before.

Reza Behforooz
Software Engineer

(Updated with correct year, typo fix)