Google Maps changed the way people think about search. After years of people asking how else search results might change, it was great to see the map metaphor take hold. It’s hard to believe it’s barely a year old. Google Maps, especially mash-ups, helped people see how information might be better displayed outside of a top ten list. I can’t wait to see another breakthrough like this, whether by you or someone else. Plus, the maps aren’t bad, either 🙂
Gmail rocks. Download my email into a software client yet still have an infinite archive? I was sold. Yeah, maybe I’ll regret it in five years when the US Department Of Justice breaks into Google HQ or some rogue Google employee sniffs through all my posts. But I’m remaining optimistic. It’s certainly convenient.
Google Sitemaps continuing to roll out cool tools. Stats? A robots.txt file checker? Stop it! If you keep doing things like this that webmasters want, I’ll no longer be able to mock the usual “we’re always open to new ideas” response that used to be a code phrase for “maybe when hell freezes over we might do that.”
Matt Cutts, Marissa Mayer & Googlers In General: I name Matt and Marissa specifically because they are probably the two Googlers I spend the most time talking with. However, they epitomize what you’d find about Googlers in general. The love stories in the news are no exaggeration. They smart, dedicated and wanting to do big things that will help people in general. Google itself is getting bigger and more frightening in ways as it grows. As a counterbalance, the Googlers are imbued with a spirit you can’t help but admire and appreciate. And the good news is, their competitors have employees just as inspired and smart. It makes the entire industry better.
Pulling a Google and changing things: Gmail changed how we viewed email. Google Maps took mapping to a new level. I love when the company pulls out something new or puts a different twist on an old idea. Bring us more of this!
Giving things away for free: Yeah, giving things away for free was also on my hate list. So I’m conflicted. About two years ago, hardly anyone had decent, fast, cheap desktop search. Google’s entry now leaves consumers with a glut of choices. Running that new web site and want hot analytics? Have some for free on Google. It’s a great thing for that little mom-and-pop start up to have.
AdSense helping publishers: There’s a ton of junk that AdSense helps support, but it has also transformed the web in terms of supporting good stuff. Before it arrived, many small sites largely depending on hoping an Amazon affiliate link would generate some income. AdSense has definitely helped more people make a living from writing quality content online and spurred others to compete to reward these publishers, as well.
Returning search to its glory: Maybe we’ll see the current Portal Wars II cause Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL to lose focus on search in the way portals of the past did. However, I suspect not. Google’s rise proved that search was a feature, a key feature that could make you billions. They all, along with Ask, know that search has to remain supported. I love Google for revitalizing search in this way.
Google Desktop Search’s cache: Time and again, it’s helped me find examples of pages I’ve previously visited but forgotten to save, since I didn’t know at the time I might want to. Plus, it’s also helped me on occasions when I’ve accidentally deleted or lost some of my own content.
The Library Scanning project: I think they’re probably fine on the legal grounds of making an index of copyrighted works. We’ll see, of course. Certainly they’d have been smarter to start with the wealth of material clearly out-of-copyright. But ultimately, I’m glad they’ve kickstarted efforts to bring books into the digital age. The vast majority of our knowledge is locked in books, and so few of them are searchable. Google wasn’t the first to do digitize books, but they certainly accelerated it.
Personifying the importance of search: I started writing about search 10 years ago next month because I could see it was important, not just to marketers but also to those who depend on these amazing tools. Search gained attention over the years but never quite as much as it deserved, in terms of how much we all rely on it. If I said I wrote about search engines pre-Google, people would kind of nod their heads and show some interest. Google’s emergence as the wunderkind of search has boosted our own recognition of search in our lives. It became the poster child of search, the thing that everyone could identify with, that everyone had used. While I can also hate that Google is sometimes too much credited for search, I still love that it has helped people better feel a connection with search tools.
Translating the web: Google Translate wasn’t the first page translation tool, but it has continued to improve and add languages. The translations may also be far from perfect, but they can often help me understand what a page is generally about. It’s actually an amazing tool that I just take for granted when I need it.
Saving the internet’s early discussions: Google Groups is far from a Usenet archive these days, but I still love the fact that Google way back saved the Deja archives so that we can read early discussions of the internet that happened on the internet.
Google Earth: I don’t use the software. So how can I love it? From afar, from being able to see how many other people clearly love it, being able to fly over the earth and do virtual tours. If I didn’t spend so much of my day on the computer, I’m sure I’d be spending more time with Google Earth and flying the kids around with it.
Google Analytics: I sort of covered this above, but Google Analytics is a great tool that deserves a mention on its own. Yep, there are also other great tools out there such as ClickTracks, but there’s plenty for a webmaster to love — and love for free — with Google Analytics.
Picasa: OK, I opt for the fee-based Adobe Photoshop Elements still, but Picasa’s a solid product. I have no problem recommending it to anyone looking for a photo organizing and customizing tool, especially if they can’t afford to buy one. There’s plenty to love in Picasa.
Fighting The US Department Of Justice: Sure, there’s plenty of self-interest in Google going up against the DOJ in the case involving query logs. But I’ve got no doubt that a big part of it is because the government asked for too much, and I’m glad Google’s standing up to it.
Talking more: Google has come under fire for being closed mouthed or secretive, but I’d argue they are talking more in various ways than ever before. There are a number of official Google Blogs, and it’s not just corporate fluff on them. Google’s out at more and more to conferences, our own and others, plus individual employees are doing a ton of talking. The popularity of Matt Cutts’s blog has been phenomenal, for example. People are tuning in and, unofficial or not, a Google message is getting out.
Gmail’s conversations: Aside from loving Gmail archiving, it’s great being able to see all my related conversations on a topic automatically linked. I don’t always need this, but when I do, it’s a savior.
Searching my desktop: Sure, there are better, more powerful tools. Sure, I’d like to see Google Desktop evolve more. But it remains a dependable and low-impact way for me to locate material on my computer. It’s changed my work habits for the better.
The philosophy: OK, another item that was also on my hate list. Yes, I do think they need a more realistic philosophy. However, I’m also glad they aspire to higher things and things that aren’t necessarily related to money. I want a big company to pull that off, to be successful but not successful at any pric6.
Resources: another reason to LOVE google is the resources for homebrew projects and as the best torrent search tool on the net…If a rare file exists on the net…Google will tell you how to find it…a source code? google has a speacial search engine just for that! you want free energy technology instead of relying on the fuels of other nations…google wants free energy technology instead of relying on the fuels of other nations (as they spent millions on it this year). see why cant we all be friends? 😛