Search Engines

Some hours ago I decided to write a small rant about google because they update their index so slowly currently. When looking at the index snippets and cache entries of some of my blogs this morning they were from the first of november.
Now as I’m starting this post the index has just been updated and everything is fine - looks like I’m too slow ;-)

Slowly all Google services are moving to Google accounts. Right now Blogger is switching over: Beginning today the new Beta version (why Beta? has blogger been alpha before?) is advertised in the Blogger dashboard and blogs can be converted with just a few clicks - and logging into an existing or opening a new Google account.
So now there is one more Google project connected to all the other Google services - sometime you wonder if it is good to put so much information about yourself (mail, calendar, documents) into the hands of one company.

When logging into Gmail this morning I realized a small message on the top saying “Five new features”. I didn’t expect to much, because mostly those new features aren’t very useful to me. But this time they added something I would love to see in my regulare evolution client: If you are reading a message or responding to a message and meanwhile another message for this thread arrives, a small window will pop up and inform about the new message. With the click of a button you can then update the current view.

You can find an overview of all five new features in the Gmail help. By the way: Gmail has been made available to everyone, so you do not need to look for someone sending you an invitation if you want to signup now.

Thinkgeek Gadget for GoogleFor a long time Google has been offering so-called gadgets that you could put on your personalised homepage. Thanks to the gadgets you get the weather report, google video, digg news or a calender to your homepage. Not so long ago Google published a new feature: now it is even possible to put those gadgets on your real homepage.

Of course there are lots of official and even more unoffical gadgets in the directory, but you know what is missing? A gadget for Thinkgeek, the ultimate gadget store (to be exact: there are rss-feeds for thinkgeek you can add to your google homepage, but not real gadgets). So why not create one?

The Google API pages offer extended information on how to build a gadget. The main part of every gadget is a small xml definition of the gadgets properties, requirements and perhaps code. The recommended way of filling the gadget is by putting html and javascript directly into this xml file. Unfortunately I was unable to build my gadget that way because I always got a javascript error in the google code. As always the Google code is badly scrambled so I didn’t spend much time looking for the error. (Anyways, if anyone finds a solution to “ig_a[ig_g] is not a function” - send me a mail)

Another way to build a gadget is by simply specifying a url that contains the gadget content. After javascript didn’t work I went to build a simple perl script that parses the thinkgeek rss and generates an html output. This worked fine and the gadget now displays a random thinkgeekd product on every load.

If you want to give it a try, click here: Add to Google

Google Sitemaps Webmaster Tools has been around some time giving out some information about how Google treats your website. The most interesting part was a statistic showing for which queries your site shows up and for which queries it gets most clicks.

During the last days Google has added a new great stats function to Sitemaps: Under Diagnostics > Tools > Crawl Rate you can see how often the Googlebot has crawled your site, how many traffic was generated per day and how long it took to download an average website. Especially the last information gives good information about speed problems on your host or server (I have attached a copy of my current speed stats which show some definitive speed problems my webhost has had in the past).

Finally the new page in Sitemaps tells me that Googlebot is currently limiting the number of accesses to my web page to avoid overloading the server. If I’m sure that the host can stand more connections (and I am for most of my sites ;-)) I can allow Googlebot to access the page more often. Unfortunately I don’t keep stats about how often search engine bots access my websites so I won’t find out if this option really changes anything.

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