In this video Matt Cutts reveals that Google does not use keyword for ranking “even the least little bit”. It looks like so much spamming had been going on that keywords were effectively rendered useless for ranking sites and pages.
There are two other use cases that spring to mind. Accessibility and composition.
“Page information metadata must include a page TITLE, keywords, author and description. This should be as accurate as possible to ensure that users get all the information they need to navigate a site.”
Keywords can also provide a useful focus when composing text for a page. It’s a way of noting the few precise concepts you want to cover in a manner that will survive edits and revisions you make in the text.
I’ve been using Google Fast Flip for a few days now, and quite like it. It’s close to the feel of browsing through a magazine or newspaper, with the eye briefly skimming each article as it comes through.
Google Fast Flip is a web application that lets users discover and share news articles. It combines qualities of print and the Web, with the ability to “flip” through pages online as quickly as flipping through a magazine. It also enables users to follow friends and topics, discover new content and create their own custom magazines around searches.
This works really well with traditional journalistic writing that has an inverted pyramid structure as I can get the gist from the first few paragraphs. I like the feeling of serendipity encouraged by flicking through articles from different sources that I ordinarily wouldn’t have found – like this article about a Skype lawsuit from the Christian Science Monitor.
I nice to see such a variety of reading tools developing, with Fast Flip, Issuu and Veri exploring richer interfaces and different discovery processes.
Web pages with WYSIWYG editing and version control.
Dashboards composed of collections of gadgets.
Dated announcements that act as internal blogs.
File Cabinets used for storing and describing binary files.
Pages can be enhanced with gadgets that integrate with other Google services:
Picassa web slideshows
Specialised gadgets help with navigation
Table of Contents
Recent Uploaded Files
Any standard gadget from the iGoogle directory can be embedded in a page, as can Google Mashups and bespoke gadgets built on top of the Google Gadget API.
Sites has a small collection of themes. Additional options give a more refined control over backgrounds, logos, color schemes and fonts. The visual appearance will be adequate for many applications, but will not be sufficiently distinctive for sites that require strong branding and highly distinctive visuals.
While Sites is best suited to intranet/workgroup use, the easy integration with other feeds and services makes it a platform worth considering for public facing content driven applications, particularly those that integrate data from a variety of sources.
Integrating well with Google Apps for Teams, Google Sites is in direct competition with Microsoft Sharepoint. It again uses a bottom up marketing strategy, allowing workgroups to introduce technical solutions linked via company email addresses.
The forms are easy to create and easy to complete. There is no authentication, which means that the same respondant can complete the form multiple times. This is not suitable for high stakes applications, or where identity issues are a concern, but it’s fine for simple data gathering, fun polls, suggestions boxes, guestbooks, ad listings etc.
The release of the Team Edition of Google Apps has been met with a mixture of delight and hostility. Google’s decision to assist and encourage the ad-hoc implementation of externally hosted groupware solutions has not been well received by some IT Managers who have expressed concerns over security, reliability, regulatory compliance and the ownership of organization’s IT strategy.
Others acknowledge the frustrations experienced by end users of unresponsive IT departments.
An overview of the Team Edition features can be seen in this video.
A component of Google’s strategy appears to be the encouragement of bottom up adoption in large organizations leading to Premier Edition upgrades at $50 per user per year. Case Studies of SF Bay Pediatrics and Arizona State University who were early adopters of the Premier Edition are included below.
Security concerns about the team edition should be set in the context of current common practices which includes:
sending documents as attachments in unencrypted emails
carrying documents on data pens
carrying sensitive documents on laptops
mailing and loosing data CDs
The question is then whether security is endangered or enhanced by the use of encrypted web applications. The recent addition of Postini in the Premier edition provides a useful security enhancement, checking emails and messages to enforce regulatory compliance when social security, credit card and other sensitive information is detected.
The wisdom of adopting a bottom up approach to entering the enterprise remains to be seen. Once the dust from the hyperbole surrounding security and authority issues has settled the real work of evaluating functions and risk can begin. If nothing else, the launch had underlined the importance of engaging users in the process of managing their technology and security; particularly when expedient options are conveniently available.
I imagine some IT Directors may envy smaller organizations where budgets and staffing levels constrain the choices to a narrower set of options.
The web could become a friendlier place thanks to Google’s Social Graph API. This new service helps developers build applications that query public information about people and their relationships, saving users the effort of redefining their connections as they move from community to community, and from application to application.
This information is gathered from public profiles on existing social networks, from blogs and from suitably formatted web pages. The systems understands and indexes data coded in XHTML Friends Network microformat
to define relationships between people, or to define “me” relationships between an individual’s multiple profiles held on different systems.
In the video below Brad Fitzpatrick describes the API and some of its use cases.
Building on a growing base of semantic web technologies this service is another clear pointer to the direction the Internet is taking, with markup focussed on meaning rather than presentation, and applications able to work with and augment each others data as a matter of course. The API will affect social networks, who will need to choose the level of openness they are willing to support.
Though the system uses only public data, the power to query and analyze could affect the way you choose to present yourself online. It could also lead to some interesting situations where connected people perceive different qualities in their relationships. It’s not just how you link to your friends, it’s how they link to you. Are your ears burning?