Posts Tagged ‘google’

Google Abruptly Changes a Longtime Search Command

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Saying that Google changed the +Search command may not be the best way to describe Google’s actions. Instead of announcing that they were going to be replacing the +search command they quietly pulled the rug out from under its users and completely removed the Boolean + search command. Google is now ignoring the + symbol without so much as a blog post to let people know.

Although Google has decided to ignore searches with the + command they have expanded the role of the quotation marks to incorporate the + command functionality. After years of performing searches with + commands it will probably take time for some users to get used to the new way of searching.

Old Way: Keyword + Keyword + Keyword

New Way: Keyword “Keyword” “Keyword”

On a Google Help Forum, Kelly an employee from Google offered the following explanation.

“ We’ve made the ways you can tell Google exactly what you want more consistent by expanding the functionality of the quotation mark operator. In addition to using this operator to search for an exact phrase, you can now add quotation marks around a single word to tell Google to match that word precisely. So, if in the past you would have searched for [magazine +latina], you should now search for [magazine "Latina"].”

“We’re constantly making changes to Google Search – adding new features, tweaking the look and feel, running experiments, – all to get you the information you need as quickly and as easily as possible. This recent change is another step toward simplifying the search experience to get you to the info you want.”

Google may have stated that they have made these improvements to help users get to the information quicker and easier but it doesn’t really seem to benefit anyone but them. Some online users have even suggested that they only removed the + search command to better accommodate searches for their Google+ social network.

In conclusion the + search command’s replacement isn’t all that more complicated but it may require some time for people to get used to. The fact that Google didn’t really bother to announce that they were making this change and the belief that it only benefits their new social network rather than the search results seems to be the biggest issue for most users. It is only once a user performs a search with the +search command that they are finally notified that the +function has been eliminated and the displayed results are generated without the +command.

For better or for worst, the +search command has been replaced using the quotation mark operator. What do you think did Google do this just to help their social network become more searchable?

Visit the Google Forum to see what others are saying about the change.

Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Give Your Site a Speed Boost with the New Google Page Speed Service

Friday, August 12th, 2011

A couple weeks ago Google announced a new Page Speed Service which is currently available to only a limited number of webmasters. The new Page Speed service follows many previous speed assessment products that Google has released over the years, releases that include the Page Speed Browser Add-ons and Page Speed Online. These previous releases focused on scoring a websites speed performance and providing users with suggestions or feedback to increase their speed score.

page speed logo

from, August 2011

The new Page Speed is a service that doesn’t analyze your website’s speed but instead automatically increases it. The new service retrieves your content from the website server, rewrites the website using their specified guidelines, and then delivers it the site visitor even faster using their servers.

While using the Page Speed Service a website can expect to see a 25%-60% improvement however the exact amount of speed depends on a number of different factors. These factors include the amount of content on your pages, the browser, geographical location, bandwidth and more. Visit the web page test to analyze your website and determine the exact speed increase that the new page speed service can produce for your website.

The test works by simply visiting your site and then repeating the same test by substituting your website into the Page Speed Service. The test takes only minutes to perform and once complete the user is presented with a chart that details the load time from the original server, the load time from the Page Speed Service, the load time for repeat visits from both servers, the percentage of the speed increase, and multiple links to test details. The results also provide a visual rendering for the two speeds that clearly demonstrate to the user the exact amount of speed that they can expect to gain by using the Google Page Speed Service.

Visit the link to request to participate in the new Page Speed Trial.

How to use the Service:

  • Log into the Google APIs Console.
  • Provide the serving domain of the website you want to speed up.
  • Verify ownership of the domain through Google Webmaster Central.
  • At this stage, you will have an opportunity to preview how your site will look when rendered through the Page Speed Service.
  • Set up and provide the reference domain from where Page Speed Service will fetch your website content.
  • Change your site’s DNS CNAME entry and start using Page Speed Service to serve traffic to your users.
  • Monitor traffic and latency metrics for your web site from the Dashboard

Currently Google is offering this service free of charge to a limited number of users. At the conclusion of the trial period later this year the product will be available to everyone at a competitive price.

When performing a web page test for our own website we were able to see a 29% increase in our speed. For the best results we recommend using a combination of Google Page Speed online to determine how to reduce your website’s load time and the Page Speed Service to get an extra speed boost.

For more information visit the Page Speed Service FAQ.

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Google Spam Report Page Gets Revamped

Friday, August 5th, 2011

According to a recent Tweet from Matt Cutts, Google has released their biggest spam report form refresh in roughly ten years. Along with their own attempts Google also relies on individual users to help combat websites that are spamming their index. As a part of Google’s continuous effort to improve the quality of search results, they ask that you submit a spam report if you come across a site that isn’t following the webmaster guidelines or acceptable practices. Google users can submit spam reports using their Webmaster Tools. Spam

The previous spam report form was only a single page and had simple check boxes for users to identify the type of spam that was encountered. The new spam center however has a main page that provides a user with 8 different links. Each of the 8 links is for a different type of spam. The links include paid links, objectionable content, malware, other Google products, copyright, legal issues, personal/private, phishing, and other. These links will each direct a user to a separate spam complaint section where the user can then report the web address and express their concerns in full details.

Google depends on their “webmaster quality guidelines” as well as these detailed spam reports to help them generate scalable spam solutions. Instead of struggling against spam one by one they are always seeking new information to enhance their algorithm and combat large bodies of spam. Google’s quality guidelines express the various forms of deceptive or manipulative behaviors and describe how websites can avoid the misleading practices. The basic quality guidelines established by Google are as follows:

  • Design pages for users, not for the search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users (cloaking).
  • Don’t use tricks that are intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
  • Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.
  • Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • Don’t create pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware.

These are only the basic quality guidelines. In order to prevent your site from being flagged by Google it’s advised that you follow the mentioned suggestions as well as the rest of the Webmaster Guidelines. If your website does fail to comply with Google’s requests then you should make the necessary adjustments and resubmit your website.

To compare the new and old spam report forms visit

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Google Improves the User Experience with More Design Changes

Friday, July 1st, 2011

It was only a year ago that Google implemented a new visual design that focused on providing users with a visual refresh and a convenient sidebar navigation tool. The June 2010 updates also introduced a time based search feature that enables users to search during a period of time such as the last 24 hours, the past year, or a custom range. During Google’s Spring Metamorphosis last year they had mentioned that they are always working on improving the design and experience of Google which has led to many of their latest changes. Users may have noticed that on Tuesday June 28, 2011 that some changes had taken place in an effort to evolve the design and Experience of Google. Not only did Google modify its search engine but that same day Google had also announced the Google+ Project.

Google's New Look

from July 2011

The clean, spacious, and simple design of Google+ coordinate with the new look of Google and are already carrying over to the other Google services like Gmail. The new Google home page has even gone through its own changes. Now with a smaller logo and the links moved to the top and bottom edges, the page has a cleaner and more intuitive feel. Additionally Google now has a universal toolbar that is located at the top of the page and is also consistent across each page and service.

According to Google, “The way people use and experience the web is evolving, and our goal is to give you a seamless and consistent online experience—one that works no matter which Google product you’re using or what device you’re using it on”

In their Google Blog, Google mentions that their new design was based on 3 principles focus, elasticity, and effortlessness. The new look however is only the first of many changes said to be coming in the following months. When it comes to increasing focus Google plans is to eliminate clutter, use bolder colors, make the buttons more identifiable, and a new “hide” feature that will let the user clear away any unnecessary distractions like navigation buttons. Behind the simplistic design, Google will continue to use the latest technology to provide users with a powerful experience. In addition Google will also be working hard to improve their flexibility across all devices. Their goal is to provide a solid visual experience on every device without losing any elegance and practicality.

Google is always changing in order to enhance and improve the Google user experience. These are only a few of the many changes we can expect to see over the next couple of months, keep an eye out.

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Major Security for Major Websites Does Not Always Prevent Vulnerabilities

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Online security threats and system vulnerabilities will always be an issue on the Internet regardless of the amount of security we implement. As the security for major online companies gets smarter the hackers and computer viruses get more inventive as well. This balance is unlikely to disappear because there will always some kind of benefit for people who perform these destructive actions. Whether it is for notoriety, money, or information the effects of these actions require companies to be forward thinking and remain focused on the protection of their users.


Following the largely publicized PlayStation Network Hack a couple weeks ago, two other major websites experienced their own misfortune. For Google it was discovered that their images were replaced with malware and Facebook was also notified that their applications were unintentionally leaking information to third parties. Although these two incidents are completely different with one being pure mischief and the other being an oversight the two cases highlight severe vulnerabilities for major websites.

After weeks of user complaints Google identified that some of their Google Images search results were pointing users to webpages that forced misleading anti-virus scans and security alerts. The attackers apparently infiltrated high trending Google Image search results and planted their own PHP scripts to generate their own malicious content. Once their own PHP scripts were implemented the Google bots crawled and eventually displayed thumbnails for their bogus web pages. When clicked on, the image redirected users to a bad page. Google is currently working hard to remove all of the bad links. For more specific details on how and what was affected visit More on Google Image Poisoning.

Shortly after Google realized their security flaw, Facebook was notified by Symantec regarding their security issue. On Tuesday May 10, 2011 Symantec published that Facebook applications have been unintentionally leaking user information to third parties. Although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact number of affected users it is estimated that the information of hundreds of thousands of users could have been exposed. However Symantec and Facebook state that it is also possible that most of the third parties didn’t even realize the leaks.

The leaks occurred through access tokens which are basically authorization codes that are assigned once a user accepts or grants permission to a Facebook application. Once Facebook was notified of the leaks they implemented the necessary changes which are described in the Facebook Developers Blog. Concerned users can take their own actions to nullify any current access tokens by changing their account password. As mentioned although these leaks were accidental this incident provides a perfect example for the vulnerabilities that websites like Facebook still have even with good security.

Sometimes the bigger the company, the bigger the target. Security should always be a crucial aspect and top priority for any business.  It is not only up to the major websites to try to stay head of the relentless security threats and system vulnerabilities, the individual users should do their part as well by being educated about online risks and by taking the appropriate precautions to remain safe.

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

Using Google Page Speed to Improve Your Website’s Performance

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Recently we published an article on our internet marketing blog detailing various techniques for increasing the speed of a website.  In our posting “Simple Modifications That Produce a Faster Website and Boost Rankings!” we provided statistics on what qualifies as a fast website and several suggestions that could potentially increase a website’s loading time.  Some of these suggestions included website compression, image optimization, and properly structuring website code.

Each of these methods carries critical importance when attempting to enhance a website page speed.   Website compression groups information and sends it using packets of data which mean more information is sent at one time and does not continuously flow item by item.  Limiting and optimizing images avoids clutter and reduces the time the images take to display. Ensuring proper code layout also increase page speed because the page knows what elements to load first therefore keeping the visitor occupied and aware that the site is functioning properly until fully loaded.

It is important to first check the speed of your website using one of the many page testing tools found on the internet.  Some of the tools are Pingdom Load Time Test and GTmtrix, however recently Google has launched its very own tool called Page Speed Online.

Page Speed Online was released on March 31, 2011 and was previously available only as a browser add-on.  Google Labs newest launch now enables users to test the speed or load time of any website from any location.  Google Online Page Speed is simple and convenient to use and provides an immediate review of your site and its speed.  To use Google’s website speed assessment tool all a user has to do is as follows:

  1. Navigate to the Page Speed Online Test Screen.
  2. Enter the URL of the website and click “Analyze Performance”.
  3. Once the test initiates the result will appear in a few moments and will provide a score out of 100.
  4. Provided under the score are any problems that were found on your site. These problems will be broken down into priority categories of high, medium, and low.
  5. The problems listed in these categories are basic errors that have a negative effect on the speed of your site, for example it could say “Optimize Images”.  Each of the problems listed can be accessed for a more detail description of each individual error.  When a user clicks “Optimize Images” the results will identify each individual picture that needs to be optimized and provide the best solutions to do so.
  6. Follow the solutions provided to eliminate any problems that were found during the initial test and try re-testing your website once the solution has been implemented.

The good thing about using Google’s online page speed application as opposed to other online speed assessments is that Google’s test appears to be more accurate. Google provides the user with suggestions to fix the problems that were found during the screening process.  People who utilize other online speed testing programs might receive inaccurate result because they may be only testing the time that it takes for your websites HTML to transfer.  Google however not only tests the HTML transfer but also measures how long it takes for images to load and how long it takes to execute JavaScript.  The Google Page speed test incorporates all of these factors and more when screening your website and provides a fuller assessment of your site speed.

In conclusion with the Google online page speed test users can instantly assess their site speed from any computer or browser and clearly identify every aspect that they should improve.  The Google online page speed tool is simple to use and provides informative feedback that could assist you in drastically increasing the speed of your website.

You can try out this great tool at Google Page Speed Online!

Please share your opinion below about what you think of Google Page Speed. Will you be using it or do you already have another site speed tool that you think is better?

Thanks for Reading and Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland

New Software Update Bug Causes Havoc for Gmail Users

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Last week some Gmail users were faced with an unwelcome surprise.   Many Gmail account holders found that their emails were either deleted or temporarily corrupted.   Although most users were unscathed by the detrimental “glitch”, those that were not so lucky temporarily lost the majority of their email and access to any crucial information contained within their account.

software bug

Since the problem began, most of the clients who were exposed to this issue have regained access to their email account and had their lost emails restored. In a Blog Posting from Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar, he states that Gmail apologizes for the problems and goes on to talk about how the emails were never really lost. The bug had an impact on multiple data centers but because Gmail spreads their data across a vast number of data storage facilities as well as Tape, the emails were never truly deleted.

Tape is a form of offline backup that allowed Gmail to preserve the integrity of data and transfer it back to the data center after resolving the issue at hand.   Gmail always keeps redundant copies of the data for easy retrieval in the event that something like this occurs. Gmail originally stated that it was an easy thing to fix but Ben later urged their customers to bear with them because it had taken longer than thought to resolve the issue due to the data transfer process.   Following his Monday blog posting Ben Treynor provided an update stating that the flow of data had resumed and all the remaining affected users should now have access to their information.

The root of the problem surfaced when implementing a storage software update. Initially, it was estimated that .08 percent of users were affected but it was later changed to only .02 percent.   Even though .02 percent may not be a colossal figure, with nearly 200 million people using Gmail it is still safe to say that a good number of people were left to shoulder the consequences.

If there is one thing that you should take away from this article it is the importance of backing up your data!   Data backup is not only important for companies like Google who are protecting client data but for users on a more personal level as well.   This issue serves as a perfect example of showing how important your data could potentially be and when you’re  unable to access needed information you can be at a major loss. My advice would be to store important emails and information offline just in case you find yourself in a situation similar to the Gmail fiasco.

For more news on all things Google visit Google Headlines and the Google Blog!

Have a Great Day!


Providing Tech Support for Businesses in Maryland