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(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

The pumpkins are carved, the spiderwebs are hanging, 
Kids and their pets are door-to-door banging, 
Witches on their brooms and owls on their perches, 
Let’s take a look at some Halloween searches.

Halloween searches are some of our favorite trends to look at all year. Using Insights for Search and some internal data, we took a peek at which costumes and candies are on top in the United States.

This year seems to be about the battle of the birds. Searches for [angry birds costume], based on the game phenomenon that has so many of us addicted, have been steadily rising in 2011, and we’re seeing 10 times more search volume this year than last. But as of mid-October, the Angry Birds were overtaken in search by [black swan costume]. The Darren Aronofsky ballet drama seems poised to be the most popular costume idea by All Hallows Eve, with related searches for everything from [black tutu] to [black corset]. Some are even looking to be the alter ego [white swan].



Meanwhile, search data doesn’t seem to show that anyone is too anxious to be the object of the Angry Birds’ rage—at least not independently from their sworn enemies. Although [angry birds costume] is one of the top 10 fastest-rising searches related to [pig costume] over the last 90 days, another three are focused on a much sweeter piglet, the cartoon favorite Olivia.


Birds aside, this year’s fastest rising costumes in the U.S. overall are inspired by a variety of sources from pop culture over the past year, including TV shows—[pan am], [wilfred]—movies—[smurfette], [tron], [captain america]—pop music—[nicki minaj]—and more [monster high].

In fact, we may have a battle of the pop goddesses on our hands as well as a battle of the birds. During 2009 and 2010, homegrown Lady Gagas were trick-or-treating throughout the country, but while Lady Gaga still rules the music charts, she’s a far less popular costume choice this year than in 2010:


And although overall in 2011 [lady gaga costume] leads [nicki minaj costume] in search volume, right now they’re neck and neck:


We’d be lying if we weren’t hoping that at least a few Minaj fans out there choose to pay tribute to her by dressing up as uberfans eight-year-old Sophia Grace and her cousin, the two little girls who blew away YouTube viewers with their performance of “Super Bass.”

Speaking of YouTube, Halloween doesn’t fall on a Friday this year, but that’s not stopping people from dressing up as Rebecca Black:


Even if you don’t want dress up as a YouTube star, YouTube can still help you create your Halloween costume. Head on over to the YouTube Blog for video tutorials and other inspiration.

Lest you think Halloween is just for humans, take a look at the huge amount of searches for [dog costume]. In terms of get-ups actually intended for canines, ewoks and dinosaurs are the fastest-rising related searches. But two of the top five rising searches in 2011 related to [dog costume] are a little quirkier: at least a few people out there may dress up as the eponymous character from FX’s “Wilfred” show, about a dog, and a man who sees the dog as a man dressed in a dog suit. Kinda meta.


Turning from costumes to the other traditions of this holiday, searches for [haunted house] and [pumpkin patch] are both spiking right now, but there seems to be greater interest in spooky thrills than in finding that perfect pumpkin to carve. Maybe spiderwebs and peeled-grape eyeballs are a less scary proposition than running into the [great pumpkin] (from the classic movie which, incidentally, celebrates its 45th birthday this Halloween).


Everyone has a sweet tooth this time of year, but [candy corn] is remains the undisputed king of people’s cravings. In the last 30 days, search volume is nearly twice as high for [candy corn] than for other candy choices:


Per capita, Alabama is searching the most for [candy corn] this year. Here are the states that searched the most for a few other Halloween sugar staples (and some newcomer treats):
  • Candy apples - Rhode Island
  • Gummy worms - Wisconsin
  • Kosher candy - New York
  • Sugar free candy - Kentucky
  • Gluten free candy - Oregon
  • Candy bars - Utah
  • Organic candy - Colorado
When trick or treating, there’s always that one house that insists on making Halloween healthy—but luckily for us, those are few and far between. Over the last 30 days, there is almost two and a half times more search volume for [candy] than for [apples]. The classic game of bobbing for apples, however, it still going strong, spiking dependably every October.

Whether you’re dressing up as an elegant avian ballerina or a brightly-colored roly-poly bird in a slingshot, we hope you have a spootakular Halloween!

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Yesterday we introduced a simple way for content creators to set up authorship using just their email address, which displays their name and picture on the Google search results page alongside content they wrote. In addition, we’ve added a few improvements to the author information you see in the search results, so you can find out more about the authors behind the articles and engage with them directly. 


Specifically, you’ll now see:
  • Circle count. Although you saw the name of an author next to the result, we kept hearing that you wanted to find more info about them. The most popular request was knowing how many people followed that author on Google+, which is now included. 
  • Add to circles. You should be able to easily engage with and hear more from authors you like, so we're making that easy by allowing you to add authors to your circles right in search results (this feature is rolling out over the coming weeks). 
  • Comments. Another way you can engage with authors is to comment directly to them on Google+. Now if an author shares an article on Google+ and they get comments on it, you’ll see a link on the search results page to view the comments in Google+. 
These changes are just another step towards helping you identify and discover high quality content on the web. If you’re a content creator interested in learning more about authorship, check out our Help Center.

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In June, we began highlighting content creators in search results to help searchers identify high quality, authoritative content. Since then, content creators have been able to link to their content with the authorship markup to have their photos appear next to their content in search results and help readers find out more about the person behind the story. After all, if someone searches for [britney spears], they should be able to quickly and easily find not just information about Britney Spears, but also information by Britney:


The response to highlighting authoritative content has been positive, and starting today we've simplified the setup process for content creators who want to participate.

Since many of you authors have your email addresses published in your content, we can use this information to link your content to your Google+ profile. Starting today you can verify your email address directly in your Google+ profile. Here’s where you add your email address in your Profile:


For example, let’s say you write content on a page hosted at http://www.galaxytimes.com. To participate in the authorship program, put your name on your content and your e-mail address:


Then verify your email address sagark@galaxytimes.com on your Google+ profile.

To get started:
  1. Click here to setup your Google+ profile 
    1. Remember to upload a high quality headshot, and fill out some profile information such as hometown, etc. 
  2. Verify your email address 
    1. On your Google+ profile, click on the ‘Edit Profile’ button in the upper right corner 
    2. Scroll down and click on “Work” 
    3. Click the drop-down arrow next to “Phone” 
    4. Click on “Email” 
    5. Put your cursor in the box next to “Email”, and fill in your email address where it says “New contact info”. Use your email address which has the same domain as the main place you publish your work. For example, “sagark@galaxytimes.com”. 
    6. Change the visibility of the section from “Only you” to “Everyone on the web” 
    7. Click on “Save” 
    8. Click on “Done Editing” 
    9. Scroll down and find where you added the e-mail address and then click “Verify” 
We hope this makes things a lot simpler for content creators on the web and continues to help people find high quality content in their search results.

Update 4/18/12: We now have a new, even simpler tool that allows you to verify your email and sign up for authorship at https://plus.google.com/authorship.

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Earlier this year, we made algorithmic changes to help you find more high-quality sites, and we’ve introduced a Chrome extension and a feature in Google Search where you can hide sites you may find unhelpful from your search results. Based on your feedback, we’ve added an export feature from the Chrome extension to your Google account. By storing your personal blocked sites list with your Google account, Google hides these sites from your search results when you’re signed in. Also, you can manage your list in a central place, regardless of the browser or computer that you’re using or the extensions that you have installed.

To get started, click on the red button with the extension logo in Chrome, then select “Export” from the screen that shows your personal blocklist.



Then, click the “Export to Google” button. The next prompt asks if you’d like to disable the extension, since the list of blocked domains has now been uploaded to Google and will be used for signed-in searches. You can re-enable it later if your change your mind. In the final step, you review the sites that you want blocked and confirm the export to your Google account.


The sites that you export will be hidden from your searches while you are signed into your account. You can unblock or manage the blocked sites at any time in the Search Settings Blocked Sites screen. You can also see our help page for more details on the blocked sites feature.

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What do Ravi and Amit have in common? They were both among those honored yesterday in London at the Asian Awards 2011, a global celebration of Asian achievement. Amit has been with Google since 2000 and has led the transformation of our search engine. Anyone who knows Amit understands his passion for search and empowering users. For his decades of innovations and contributions, Amit was presented with the UBM Award for Outstanding Achievement in Science and Technology.

We’re all honored to be able to work with Amit on a daily basis, and it’s great to see his excellence be recognized by the outside world as well.

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Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.

Searches can become stories. Some are inspiring, some change the way we see the world, and some just put a smile on our face. This is a story of how people can use Google to do something extraordinary. If you have a story, share it. - Ed.

My major league pitching career was anything but perfect. The closest I ever came was a seven-inning outing against Milwaukee while playing for the Cincinnati Reds, in which I gave up only four runs and earned the victory. In baseball, you can be successful without coming close to perfect. Just think about batting average: a .400 average is insanely good, but that means you strike out or get out in some other way more than half the time you're at bat. Hall of Fame pitchers give up an average of more than two runs per game. Seldom does a pitcher throw a shutout. A perfect game—in which a pitcher does not allow a single player on base—is incredibly rare.

In the majors, setting your team up to win involves daily physical workouts, hours of practice and in-depth analysis of the opposing teams’ traits and tendencies. The idea that someone without this training and background could instead go online, gather and process the necessary information and use it to throw a perfect game is unfathomable. Yet that’s exactly what happened to Brian Kingrey.

Brian is a high school music teacher from Hammond, La. and not much of a sports fan. As one of his students put it, “I’ve never heard him say the word baseball.” But Brian is a gamer—so naturally, he was intrigued by the $1 million prize he saw in a TV commercial for a new baseball video game called MLB 2K11. He knew nothing about baseball, had never even played the real game in his life, but encouraged by his wife, he went out, bought the game and started playing. A few weeks later, Brian won the $1 million prize for pitching the first perfect game in MLB 2K11. And he learned how to do it entirely online.



“I had to figure out what baseball was, not just what a perfect game was,” Brian said. He found that everything he needed to know was online: he was able to search about batters, batting averages, the different kinds of pitches. He combined the information to figure out that he had the best odds in a match-up between the Phillies -- with star pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound -- and the Houston Astros. He also researched the weak spots of each player—for instance, the toughest batter Halladay would face was going to be Astro’s infielder Bill Hall. After that, Brian was ready to play.

And play he did. On his third try, Brian pitched the perfect game and became a millionaire. “Once I got past Bill Hall, I knew I had it,” he said. “Without online search, I would’ve been in deep trouble. If I had played like it was in my head, I would’ve done it all wrong.” Perhaps if I’d known that search was the answer when I was playing in the major leagues, I might have come a little closer to perfection more often.

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Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog

These days, thanks to the movie “Moneyball,” everyone is talking about evaluating baseball through the lens of data and statistics. As the World Series matchup between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals begins, we thought: why not take a look at what the search data says about the players, managers and other aspects of the 2011 baseball postseason?

Let’s start with the teams themselves. The Cardinals are more popular in search than the Rangers. Perhaps that’s because the Redbirds—not your typical underdogs with 10 World Series titles and 18 pennants—were 10 games back from the NL Wild Card in September, and have since overpowered the regular season’s best Phillies, then their division mates the Brewers to win the NLCS last weekend. The Rangers are in the World Series for the second year in a row, still without a title to their name; yet searches were higher in the last months for the team they defeated in the ALCS, the Detroit Tigers, who saw an even steeper increase in search interest than the Cardinals.

The Cards are known first and foremost for their hitting, but Chris Carpenter overtook first baseman Albert Pujols for a period earlier this month after the former pitched a complete game against Philadelphia to advance his team to the NLCS.


Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ breakout star, hometown hero and NLCS MVP David Freese is (as recently as our data goes) an underdog in search—outpaced in the first half of the month not only by Pujols and Carpenter but by other slugging teammates like Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.


On the AL side, searches for the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz were below those for teammates Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton until October 11, when he hit the first-ever postseason walkoff grand slam, took his team to an early lead in the series against Detroit and himself to the lead in searches (for a while) as well as the MVP title.


Matching up the Rangers and Cardinals top players, we find that Albert Pujols is the subject of nearly double as many searches as Josh Hamilton. And as of October 12, Nelson Cruz had double the searches of David Freese—we’re guessing that’s changed a bit since Freese was named MVP on Sunday. We have our eye on the data to see how these player matchups go over the course of the series.

Famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, who had an entire book written about his shrewd game strategy back in 2005, is more searched for than Texas manager Ron Washington, who’s been at the helm since the 2007 season. But neither is as popular in search as Texas owner and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.


As always, there were some twists during this year’s playoffs, starting with the rally squirrel—a big hit in St. Louis. The rally squirrel made two live appearances during the Phillies/Cards series, including one in which he (or she) ran across home plate and distracted Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt. The Cardinals ended up winning, and the rally squirrel’s likeness has since shown up in the stadium on T-shirts, towels and homemade signs. Perhaps the squirrel had a hand in helping the Cardinals overpower the Brewers and their “beast mode,” too.


While the World Series is on our mind, we’re also starting to plan our Halloween costumes. Luckily, we can recycle from last year: Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants—the 2010 MLB champions—is still a hot Halloween costume choice.

Finally, although starting tonight all eyes will be on the Rangers and the Cardinals, neither team appears on the list of most-searched teams in 2011 so far. According to search data, fan favorites this year were the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves. The Yankees and Phillies went out in the first round of the playoffs, while the Braves and Sox both failed to claim hold of a wild card spot in waning days of the regular season.

With sunflower seeds in hand, we’ll keep our eyes out over the next few days to see which of these two World Series teams will finally get their chance in the national—and search—spotlight. Having spent summers traveling up to Busch Stadium for games, I know who I’ll be rooting for!



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English speakers take it for granted that they can always find answers online, regardless of their search topic. But what if you speak Hindi, Welsh or Afrikaans? The amount of content available online per speaker for Hindi is just 1% of the vast content out there on the web per English speaker. So if you speak one of the languages with less online content, some of the most relevant results for your search may actually be in English.

To help break down that language barrier between you and the answers you need, starting today you may see relevant results in English in addition to those in your default language. For example, let’s say you speak Hindi and want to find information on mountain climbing -- we want to help you also find the relevant pages in English and for these, you’ll also see a translation into your language.


Language is one of the biggest barriers to making information universally accessible, and we’ve been working to make increasing use of machine translation to improve search across languages. This is especially important for languages with less prevalent local language content available online. You should also get the most relevant information regardless of the language you’re searching in. We use machine translation to translate your search, find the pages that best answer your question and translate the relevant results for you.

You’ll start to see relevant English-language pages when you’re searching in one of 14 languages: Afrikaans, Malay, Swahili, Serbian, Slovak, Macedonian, Slovenian, Norwegian, Hindi, Catalan, Maltese, Icelandic, Welsh and Albanian. If you click on the main result title, you’ll get to the original English-language page, while the translated link underneath will take you to a translated page. We hope this will help you find the information you need, no matter what language it’s in.

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Anyone who has a smartphone knows what a valuable resource it can be in day-to-day life; getting directions, sending e-mails, video chat, sharing photos and more. You might be excused for forgetting that smartphones can even let you make phone calls!

As these devices become more popular, we’ve seen a meteoric rise in mobile search activity—five-fold worldwide in just the past two years. But what about when day-to-day life is interrupted by natural disaster? Prompted by Hurricane Irene in late August, we decided to look at what was going on with mobile searches as the storm made its way up along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

For one, we found that a larger-than-expected amount of hurricane queries came from smartphones, in particular, Android devices and iPhones. From August 22 to 28, 9.7 percent of all hurricane-related searches were made from these devices. This speaks not only to the growth in popularity of smartphones, but also to the innate utility of a supercomputer that’s always with you.


We also found that certain searches were particularly likely to come from smartphones, like [power outage]. The chart above shows two spikes in searches for [power outage] that came from smartphones on the East Coast: one on August 23, the day that a large earthquake in Virginia disrupted power in many East Coast cities; and one on August 28, the day after the hurricane made landfall. At its peak of 18.6 percent, this particular search is several times more “smartphone-oriented” than the typical queries we saw those days. Perhaps this was driven by people affected by power outages who did not have desktop computers available to them.

Thankfully, Hurricane Irene wasn’t as damaging as had been predicted, but we’re glad to see that our products on these smartphones are really useful when disaster strikes.