Less well known Google features

Lots to try out in 21 {Awesome} Google Tips & Tricks Series by Daniel Futerman (ongoing)

This guide to features in Google tools is useful, but features do disappear – especially at Google. Has something on Youtube, Gmail, Calendar, Maps, Alerts;  Chrome; ads – Google Adsense, Adwords – plus more.

The first item is the very interesting — Google Search: Your personal search trends. It mentions that Google provides statistics on your Google searches – but I could find no trace. I did, however, find the new look to Google’s search history – now called Google My Activity – shows search terms and visited pages. Can filter by date and by Google product (images, video etc), and do a keyword search – very good.

Travel with Google

Travellers can have at their fingertips a new app from Google – Google Trips, and they can plan their trips on the desktop now (as well as mobile) with Google Destinations.

See more, plan less – try Google Trips, Google Blog (Sep 19)

“Google Trips is a personalized tour guide in your pocket. Each trip contains key categories of information, including day plans, reservations, things to do, food & drink, and more, so you have everything you need at your fingertips.”

Google Destinations, Now for Desktop, Google Operating System (Sep 14)

“Search for a continent, a country or state you’d like to visit and the Knowledge Graph card has a “plan a trip” section which includes a travel guide, information about hotels and upcoming events”

Google travel tools for mobile user

Making travel arrangements on a mobile device just got easier through Google’s features to improve filtering of hotel searches, and new alerts for airfare.  These will be seen first in the US – then internationally.

Google offers new hotel search filters, deal labels and airline price tracking, Greg Sterling, (Jul 12)

Of interest: “Google has said that mobile visits to travel sites now represent 40 percent of total travel traffic. Responding to this shift in consumer behavior.”

My Activity at Google

There may be some advantages to being able to see your activity on all the Google properties – and on pages that serve up Google ads. This would especially be the case if you are researching a topic across media and need to keep a trail. Or you need to confirm something you found earlier.

Google’s new My Activity page lets you see all your Google history in one place, Napier Lopez, The Next Web (June 28)

Nonetheless, it’s a bit scary to realize that Google could track all activity rather than just web search and therefore deliver more ads. But it might also be true that the ads will be better directed. “Mainly, you can control which kind of ads show up everywhere, across various devices and websites.”

You can find this through “My Account” – or go directly to https://myactivity.google.com/

RankBrain update

Gary Illyes from Google talked with Danny Sullivan at the SMX conference about Google’s search operation, ranking methods, points of interest to SEO masters. Barry Schwartz summarized the points in . Key takeaways from the Google AMA: RankBrain, Panda, Penguin, bots & more.

RankBrain is of greatest interest. It is Google’s application of machine learning to improve its understanding of the query and ranking of results. Danny Sullivan explains in
Google uses RankBrain for every search, impacts rankings of “lots” of them (June 23)

… what we’ve understood about RankBrain: it seems largely used as a query refinement tool. Google seems to be using it now for every search to better understand what that search is about. After that, another aspect of RankBrain might influence what results actually appear and in what order, but not always.

Your privacy settings at Google

Google has made it easier to review the information that Google displays about you – and for you to change the detail.

Search on your name to see a small knowledge panel with the profile information and a button to update the profile. Also sign into your Google accound and click on your name in upper right to get to a full page in reasonably clear English on Google’s policy, and to My Account where you can easily turn public into private.

Googling yourself will soon lead to personal privacy controls, Michael Liedtke, AP via Globe and Mail (Jun 2)

Google Patents for Display

Search today is less about keywords and more about entities as is made clear (again) in this examination by Barbara Starr of Google patents.
Structured Data & The SERPs: What Google’s Patents Tell Us About Ranking In Universal Search (Search Engine Land, May 29)

Google packs into search results knowledge panels, answers, images. Much of this derives from use of structured data and identification of entities involved. One patent quoted notes that, “In some implementations, search results are retrieved from a data structure. In some implementations, the data structure also contains data regarding relationships between topics, links, contextual information, and other information related to the search results that the system may use to determine the ranking metrics.”

Starr describes with examples four entity-specific metrics. “The patent provides strong evidence that semantic web technology is being used as background context for the definitions of the metrics and the environment in which they are framed.”

Lastly, we learn that thare are “different algorithms for different screen areas”; ie., different displays for different devices.