All posts tagged ‘Google Chrome’

File Under: Browsers, search

Google Deranks Chrome Download Page Due to Spam Links

The Chrome download page has disappeared.

For the next 60 days Google searches for the words “browser,” “Chrome” or even “Chrome browser” will not include a link to the main Google Chrome download page. Google removed the Chrome download page from its search results after it discovered that one of its own sponsored post campaigns had violated its webmaster guidelines.

Because no one likes spammy links in Google search results — least of all Google — the company has penalized its own Chrome browser just like it would any other company using the same tactics. Searching Google for these terms will still bring up links that can eventually lead users to the Chrome download page, but there is no direct link (there are links to the Chrome beta download page in some results).

Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan discovered the suspicious links in Google’s search results and pointed out that they seem to violate Google’s webmaster guidelines, which prohibit “buying or selling links that pass PageRank.” All of the pages in question clearly stated that they were sponsored posts (created with Google’s implicit blessing as part of a campaign from Unruly Media) which means, according the Google’s webmaster guidelines, all the links should have been using rel=”nofollow”. Most did use nofollow, but one did not.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, responded to Sullivan’s article saying that the webspam team had manually demoted the Chrome downloads page:

We did find one sponsored post that linked to www.google.com/chrome in a way that flowed PageRank. Even though the intent of the campaign was to get people to watch videos — not link to Google — and even though we only found a single sponsored post that actually linked to Google’s Chrome page and passed PageRank, that’s still a violation of our quality guidelines, which you can find at http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769#3 .

In response, the webspam team has taken manual action to demote www.google.com/chrome for at least 60 days. After that, someone on the Chrome side can submit a reconsideration request documenting their clean-up just like any other company would. During the 60 days, the PageRank of www.google.com/chrome will also be lowered to reflect the fact that we also won’t trust outgoing links from that page.

While Google’s response may seem extreme, it’s not the first time the company has punished its own. Google previously banned BeatThatQuote (one of its own companies) over almost the same issue last year. And of course it also deranked JC Penny and Forbes for similarly shady tactics.

Clearly Google doesn’t have a double standard when it comes to violating its own guidelines, but, as Sullivan points out, that the company paid Unruly Media to run the ad campaign in the first place is troubling. “Google’s paying to produce a lot of garbage,” writes Sullivan, “the same type of garbage that its Panda Update was designed to penalize.”

The “Panda Update” involved tweaks to the way Google’s algorithms rank search results which heavily penalized co-called “content farms.” Google defines content farms as “sites with shallow or low-quality content.” In other words, sites just like the ones Google was paying Unruly Media to create.

File Under: Browsers

Why Google Continues to Fund Firefox

Just before the holiday weekend Mozilla announced that it had renewed its long-standing search revenue agreement with Google, which will reportedly net Mozilla $300 million a year (as part of a three-year contract). The renewed contract comprises the bulk of Mozilla’s funding and is unquestionably a good deal for Mozilla. What’s less immediately clear is why Google — which now has its own Chrome browser — would want to continue the deal.

Indeed, why fund the competition? M.G. Siegler speculates (based on AllThingsD’s report that there was a bidding war over Mozilla) that Google is willing to spend that kind of money just to keep Microsoft from starting a partnership with Mozilla.

That’s one theory. But it may well be that the truth is much more mundane. It may be that Mozilla is just one of a number of payouts that Google makes to help drive ad sales.

In fact, as Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler points out, Google pays out roughly 24 percent of its ad revenues to drive more traffic to its ads:

Not all traffic to Google ads is “organic” though. To help drive ad sales, Google pays for traffic to their ads. They paid out $2.21 billion, or 24% of their ad revenues in “Traffic Acquisition Costs”. That money goes to revenue shares with their AdSense partners and to “distribution partners” — presumably browser makers, PC OEMs, and mobile OEMs and operators.

As Dotzler goes on to point out Google pays out similar money to Opera and Apple, which both use Google as the default search engine in their respective browsers — again, driving eyeballs to Google ads. Dotzler’s point being that the Google-Mozilla deal is not a charitable arrangement, but a business deal built around driving eyeballs to Google ads. Firefox currently holds roughly 25 percent of the global browser market, which is certainly a healthy number of eyeballs..

Of course it’s possible that other factors may also influence Google’s decisions. Google Chrome developer Peter Kasting says that Google’s motivation for building Chrome is to “make the web advance as much and as quickly as possible.” That means, according to Kasting, that “it’s completely irrelevant to this goal whether Chrome actually gains tons of users or whether instead the web advances because the other browser vendors step up their game and produce far better browsers.” In other words, funding Firefox helps to further the same goal that drove the company to build Chrome in the first place — advancing the web.

That would be somewhat easier to swallow if other parts of the Google machine didn’t build so many experiments that only work in Chrome.

Regardless of Google’s motivation for building Chrome, or for funding Mozilla, both moves have proved great news for users. And in the end the precise motivation behind the Google-Mozilla deal are something only tech writers really care about. Users care about speed and there’s no question that Chrome has helped spawned a renaissance among web browsers and helped put speed back on top of every browser makers’ to-do list (the drive to adopt HTML5 has also done wonders to improve the average user’s experience on the web).

For most users the Mozilla-Google deal just means that there will continue to be a number of browsers to choose from and a number of browsers to help keep pushing the web, and each other, forward.

File Under: Browsers

Chrome 13′s ‘Instant Pages’ Knows Which Links You’ll Click

Google has released a new stable version of its Chrome web browser, adding a new feature, “Instant Pages.” Instant Pages attempts to speed up Google searches by rendering pages in the background, before you even click a link. Google claims that Chrome 13′s Instant Pages feature saves between 2 and 5 seconds every time you search.

If you’d like to take Chrome 13 for a spin, head on over to the Chrome downloads page. If you’re already using Chrome the browser should update itself the next time you restart it.

The new Instant Pages feature in Chrome 13 is similar to a feature Firefox has long offered — prefetching. Essentially prefetching means that Firefox will load a page slightly ahead of time. But where prefetching only grabs the HTML code, the new pre-rendering in Chrome 13 loads the entire page, including images, css files and JavaScript.

The Google search results page is probably the highest profile site to use pre-rendering, but any website can initiate pre-rendering in Chrome via some HTML. Of course that prefetching and pre-rendering is only helpful if people actually click the link being fetched. If you’re wrong about which link your visitors are going to click, pre-rendering can significantly slow down the page they actually want.

Back when Google first announced Instant Pages Google Fellow Amit Singhal said that “Instant Pages will pre-render results when we’re confident you’re going to click them.” In the time since Google has done little to clarify just how it knows what you’re planning to click, but if you’ve used Instant Pages in the Chrome dev or beta channels you’ll already know it actually works quite well on Google.com.

Chrome 13 also offers a much improved URL/search bar which is better at matching both URLs and page titles from your browsing history. This release also adds print preview support for the Windows and Linux versions of Chrome (Google says the Mac version is coming soon).

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File Under: Browsers

Chrome 13 Introduces Experimental Hidden Nav Bar Option

The Google Chrome user interface has always followed a model of minimalism. The Chrome developers have sought to cut the cruft as much as possible to slim down the parts of the browser window that don’t show content. They could soon take it to the next level by excising the traditional navigation toolbar.

A new experimental user interface option that has landed in early pre-release builds of Chrome 13 offers a first look at what they have in mind. The browser navigation toolbar can be completely hidden, leaving only the tab bar, menu button, and content area. The forward and back buttons are moved into the tab bar, placing them in the top-left corner of the window.

To access the URL textbox, the user has to click a browser tab. This will cause a floating navigation bar interface with a URL textbox and refresh button to drop down from the tab. The floating bar will remain on the screen as long as the textbox is active, but it will slide back up and disappear after a few seconds when the textbox doesn’t have focus and the cursor is out of range.

Chrome 13: They shrunk my URL bar

We tested this feature ourselves using the Canary build channel on Windows. The feature isn’t yet supported on Mac OS X. It’s obviously still very experimental and isn’t configured out of the box. To test the new hidden navigation bar, you have to enable the feature from the about:flags panel and then toggle it from the tab context menu.

This new streamlined navigation bar obviously poses some phishing risks, because it doesn’t make the domain and SSL status of the current site easily visible to users. It’s important to remember, however, that it’s still at an early stage of development is only being made available as an option rather than a default.

This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.

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File Under: Browsers

Chrome Covers Your Tracks with new ‘Flash Cookie’ Killer

Google has updated the dev channel of its Chrome web browser, adding a new option to delete so-called Flash Cookies. Technically known as “local shared objects” (LSO), Flash Cookies don’t go away when you clear your browser-based cookies. Unless, that is, you happen to be using the dev channel of Google Chrome.

Chrome’s new feature adds Flash LSOs to the list of items you can delete when you clear your browser data. To try out the new tool, grab the latest copy of the Chrome dev channel and head to the wrench menu. Look for the “tools” menu item and then select Clear Browsing Data.

Chrome’s new Flash Cookie cleaning tool works because of the new ClearSiteData API, which was developed by Adobe, Google and Mozilla. The goal is to make deleting plugin-based cookies as simple as normal, browser-based cookies. In Flash’s case the new API will make its official debut when Flash Player 10.3 arrives (it’s currently in the release candidate stage). Prior to the API deleting Flash cookies required navigating through the Flash Player settings dialog and visiting Adobe’s website.

Unfortunately most users are not aware of LSOs, let alone the labyrinthian process required to delete them. The new API turns over the task of managing plugin-based cookies to the web browser, meaning you can control everything from one place. At the moment only the Flash plugin supports the new API, but hopefully other plugins will follow suit.

Since Mozilla has been a part of the API development process, look for Firefox nightlies and Aurora to offer similar options in the coming months.

One thing to keep in mind, unless you have Flash 10.3 installed, the new API won’t work, which is part of the reason you’ll find the new features in Chrome — which ships with Flash built in — and not in Chromium, which does not bundle Flash. Once Flash 10.3 is a final release, look for other browsers to begin offering LSO delete tools as well.

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