Category Archives: Official Google Blog

Insights from Googlers into our topics, technology, and the Google culture

Extend the reach of your site personalization in Google Optimize

Personalization features in Google Optimize help businesses customize sites so their customers can find exactly what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it. For example, marketers can display a special promotion on their site for all visitors, or provide product recommendations based on customers’ previous purchase behavior.


Multi-page experiences in Optimize help you more easily deliver what your customers are looking for. Now, when you create a personalization or experiment, you’ll see an option to add additional pages so that you can extend its reach throughout your entire site—from the initial landing page to the final checkout page. Let’s take a look at two examples:


Coordinated customization across your entire site


Picture this: You’re planning for a sale next month and will be offering a 20 percent off discount code to all visitors. You want to see if displaying this code across your entire site will increase site conversions. Because each type of page on your site has a unique layout, you need to find a different spot to display your promotion on each page. 


Now with Optimize, you can test this idea by creating a single experiment and adding multiple pages to it using the “+ Add page” button.


From there, you’ll have the option to edit those pages so that you can display the promotion wherever it looks best in each case—whether that’s at the top of your site on the homepage or next to the pricing on your product page. 


When you are happy with the results of the multi-page experiment, you can turn it into a multi-page personalization with just one click.


The right experience to the right audience


If you’re using Optimize 360, you have the added ability to focus your experiment or personalization to your Google Analytics audiences.  


Using the same sale example, let’s say you want to offer a 35 percent off discount to your most loyal customers. You can create a multi-page personalization in the same way as described above. You can place the 35 percent discount banner and copy in all the pages that your loyal customers visit. When this personalization is launched, your loyal customers will always see this discount as they move from the home page, through your site, to the checkout page.


Optimize Summer Sale

Want to learn how you can use this feature? Visit this article on our Help Center.

Multi-page experiences are already available to all Optimize and Optimize 360 accounts.  You’ll be able to ensure your customers see the right message at the right time—even as they explore multiple pages on your site. And by creating a more valuable online experience, they’ll keep visiting you again and again. 

Introducing BigQuery parameters in Data Studio

If you’re one of the many Data Studio users writing custom queries for BigQuery, you can now run parameterized queries. This provides better customization and interaction options to your users while making your reports faster.


When connecting to BigQuery from Data Studio you can use special date parameters or define your own named parameters as part of a custom query. Parameters in custom queries introduce two key benefits: queries can be dynamically updated from the report - no need to create new data sources; this works even if the report user does not have edit access to the data source. You can optimize query cost and gain dashboard performance improvements since less data is passed from BigQuery to Data Studio for parameterized queries.

Creating parameterized custom queries


Let's say you're interested in analyzing word usage by corpus for a selected set of Shakepeare's works. The following BigQuery Public Dataset, bigquery-public-data.samples.shakespeare,is available to carry out this analysis:
BQ Public Dataset

To allow report editors to choose which corpus to analyze from Shakespeare’s works you can use the Custom Query interface of the BigQuery connector in Data Studio to define corpus as a parameter as part of a filter. You can define the type of UI element for the parameter (e.g., text input, single select, checkbox, etc.) and provide default values.


In the following example, the corpus parameter has been defined as a single-select dropdown with Hamlet as the default value along with other works as options such as Othello, King Lear, etc.

A BigQuery custom query with a custom corpus parameter

A BigQuery custom query with a custom corpus parameter

What’s really cool is that once you’ve defined the configuration, report editors will then be able to choose a specific corpus to analyze by using the dropdown from the parameters section of the report property panel:

Report Property Panel

E.g. The corpus parameter options in the

Data Studio property panel.

Using date parameters


Prior to date parameters, custom queries for date sharded or partitioned tables could not be limited to a date range based on a report’s date control. Instead, your custom query would have to fetch all rows for all dates, leaving Data Studio to do the job of filtering for the date range selected by the report user. The result is slower and less efficient reports.


With date parameters, you can use the reserved start and end date parameters as part of a custom query. When report users select a date range for analysis the dates selected will automatically be included as part of your custom query, resulting in a much more efficient query and fetching only the rows needed for the requested date range.


The following example custom query uses the @DS_START_DATE and @DS_END_DATE parameters as part of a filter on the creation date column of a table. The records produced by the query will be limited to the date range selected by the report user, reducing the number of records returned and resulting in a faster query:


BQ Custom Query

A BigQuery custom query using start and end date parameters

The standard Data Studio date settings and controls will determine the date values for your custom query. A report editor can set a default date or add a date control to a report and the start and end dates for your query will change based on the report date control.


In both cases, named and date parameters offer a more efficient way to retrieve data from a single BigQuery data source while giving your report users flexible options to analyze different data.


Try it out!

To learn more about how parameters work review data source parameters and connecting to BigQuery


As you have a chance to experiment with parameters, send us feedback or give us a shout out at @googleanalytics.


Chicken coops and Snoop Dogg: Martha Stewart’s smart home

Managing your home can get complicated. There’s always something to look out for, such as a water heater malfunction, the arrival of an important package or general upkeep like trimming boxwood hedges and maintaining the yard. Luckily, smart home technology such as cameras, thermostats and voice-activated speakers now make it easier to keep tabs on the things that matter to you—whether you’re taking care of children or pets, trying to save on your energy bills or planning for a busy week. 

I recently enlisted the help of Google Nest, which along with ARS, a network of professional technicians and home advisors, turned my house into a more useful, interactive and connected home. Now, caring for my property is as easy as checking my phone, or asking Google to show me a room in my house. And if there’s something that needs my attention, I’ll get a notification.

Here are some of my favorite tips for how to make the most of your smart home to help solve some of the curveballs life might throw your way. 

Check on your pets.

Anyone with a pet knows how important they are to one’s life, and it’s easy to worry about them when you aren’t at home. At my house, animals are a big part of my family—my beloved Chow Chows, my French bulldogs, my cats, canaries, horses, peacocks, pigeons and chickens—and keeping them safe, separate and out of trouble is a priority for me. With the Nest Cam, even when you’re not home you can check on your pet and observe their activities in real time. It always gives me peace of mind when I’m out of the house or away at work. 

Keep your home the perfect temperature.

Smart thermostats are an easy way to manage the temperature in your home. The Nest Learning Thermostat automatically adapts as your life and the seasons change, and it programs itself after about a week of use. For example, I love collecting exotic plants, but they, like pets, require a lot of upkeep. Luckily, a Nest Thermostat in my greenhouse keeps the temperature just right. When the weather changes suddenly, I can control the climate by changing the temperature remotely through the app. 

Plan ahead. 

Whether I’m prepping for my next big project or making a shopping list for the local nursery, I always like to be prepared, and that includes having the right information at my fingertips whenever I need it. When I’m getting ready for a trip, I ask the Google Assistant on my Home Mini for the weather at my upcoming destination to make sure I’m packing appropriately. 

Get notifications about what’s going on at home. 

I have a very busy life and packed schedule. It’s incredibly helpful to get notifications when something at home needs attention. For example, my Nest Hello video doorbell lets me know when a courier has arrived to deliver a package, so I can let them know where to leave it. Another great feature is that my Nest Protect smoke alarm checks itself so I don’t have to do manual monthly tests.

Watch your favorite videos. 

Having a smart home isn’t only about function—it’s also about having fun. I love watching my favorite videos of my friend Snoop Dogg and me on YouTube with my Nest Hub: “Hey Google, show me Martha and Snoop videos on YouTube.”

I hope you’ll try some of these tips yourself and benefit from making your home a smart home like I have. A little help at home: it’s a good thing. 

A mom-and-mom card shop draws from experience

If you told me when I was 12 that one day I would be married to another woman and making a living selling greeting cards, I would have given you a “pssht” of disbelief. But I am glad to report that today in 2019, not only am I happily married to someone of the same sex, but also, making greeting cards with my wife is a perfectly respectable way to put food on the table.  

I met my future wife, best friend and collaborator Morgan Calderini while working at an arts nonprofit in Rhode Island. We shared a similar passion for creating interesting work that made a difference in the world. As a designer and a printmaker, we began collaborating on different projects shortly after we met, but in 2011, our neon-inked and letterpress-printed, poster-sized wedding invitation went viral and launched us into the spotlight. We quit our nonprofit jobs, rescued a rusty letterpress out of the back of an abandoned shipping container and threw together a website. With little more than a credit card and a recent gay wedding under our belts, we started Ladyfingers Letterpress.

Ladyfingers Letterpress wedding invitation

The wedding invitation that launched Ladyfingers Letterpress.

During the honeymoon of launching our business, we noticed a deficit in queer-friendly products on the market. As LGBTQ+ authors, designers and makers with a rapidly growing online following, we felt empowered to make work that would fill a niche. By using Google My Business we were able to attract more retailers, business contacts and customers with our online reviews, photos and maps. We also frequently updated our website with our most recent work and engaged with our customers. Our online traffic grew to account for half of our business.

In 2014, we relocated to Morgan’s hometown of Colorado Springs to be near her family after a wildfire destroyed their home. We struggled to find our place there, but soon discovered the importance of offering a safe space while staying true to our voice no matter where we were. We opened our flagship store in the heart of downtown, where we also host hand-lettering workshops and offer a wide variety of boutique stationery items and locally-made gifts. 

From this post we operate our letterpress and design headquarters, and can personally interact with our customers as they see the presses running and witness our products being made. We added the“LGBTQ-friendly” attribute to our Google My Business listing to let customers know they’re always welcome. It’s especially important for people who navigate their day according to where spaces are safe and not safe. 

We believe that you don't have to be a large company to make a big impact. We take pride in making things by hand, locally, and sustainably. Some of the greatest successes we’ve experienced are the hugs from teary-eyed people who were touched by our work. If you would have asked 12-year-old me to define success, I probably wouldn’t have measured it by how much I make other people cry, but today, it seems perfectly applicable.

Make every story a performance with help from Kristen Bell

Kristen Bell knows how to tell a story. She's taking a break from Disney’s “Frozen” to help you make every story a performance, with Google Home Mini as her co-star. If you need help with your own storytelling, you can get a Google Home Mini and three Little Golden Books—”The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” and “Frozen”—for $49 at Walmart. 


To read along with Google Home Mini, grab one of these Little Golden Books and say, “Hey Google, let’s read along with Disney.” As you read aloud, your Google Home will play sound effects and music to bring more magic to the story. It recognizes where you are in the book, so if you skip ahead or read your favorite part a few times, it can keep up with you and play the right sound effects. We know that interruptions are inevitable, so if you pause for any reason, background music will play until you’re ready to begin again. 


As the kids get older, they may want to do story time on their own. For parents who want to give their kids access to the Assistant on Google Home, you can create an account for kids under 13 through Family Link, then link their Google Account and voice to Google Home. And remember—Google Home already comes with lots of other Disney games, so you can go on interactive adventures with some of your favorite characters right from your living room.


So, prepare your costumes, work on your character voices and get ready to read. Google Home and Disney will set the stage.


Helping kids learn to evaluate what they see online

Editor’s Note: This week we're launching six new media literacy activities for Be Internet Awesome, designed to help kids analyze and evaluate media as they navigate the internet. The new activities were developed in collaboration with experts Anne Collier, executive director of The Net Safety Collaborative, and Faith Rogow, PhD, co-author of The Teacher’s Guide to Media Literacy and a co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education.

As a reading specialist and former high school English teacher, I’ve witnessed technology enhance our lives in and out of the classroom. But that comes with lots of challenges, like learning to communicate responsibly, being kind online and deciphering what is real and what is fake. We need the right tools and resources to help kids make the most of technology, and while good digital safety and citizenship resources exist for families, more can be done for media literacy. I’ve worked alongside dozens of educators who believe that media literacy is essential to safety and citizenship in the digital age, but agree that it’s a topic that can be tough to cover.

Fortunately, the new media literacy lessons developed for Be Internet Awesome make it easy and fun for kids to learn key skills for evaluating what they see online. These lessons complement the program’s digital safety and citizenship topics, which help kids explore the online world in a safe, confident manner.

Be Internet Awesome is like an instruction manual for making smart decisions online. Kids today need a guide to the internet and media just as they need instruction on other topics. We need help teaching them about credible sources, the power of words and images and more importantly, how to be smart and savvy when seeing different media while browsing the web.

All of these resources are not only available for classrooms, but also free and easily accessible for families as well. They’re in both English and in Spanish, along with eight other languages, and if you’d like to get some hands-on training as well, Google is partnering with the YMCA and National PTA across multiple cities to host online safety workshops.

I encourage parents to take advantage of these resources and the new activities on media literacy. Let’s not only teach kids, but also inspire, educate and empower families to make tech work better for them as well.

Teach your self(ie) how to snap the perfect pic

A selfie a day keeps the doctor away? According to a study, millennials are expected to take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime, which comes down to one solo snap a day.


Today is National Selfie Day, so we’ve put together a few tips and tricks from our Pixel Camera experts for taking the best solo pics.


Natural light > flash: Taking photos in the dark is hard, and it may be tempting to use your phone’s flash. But flash photography often makes a selfie look washed out, and you can lose your background, or add glare to your face.


Low-light features are your friend: Having a low-light feature like Pixel’s Night Sight can enhance brightness in a dimly-lit setting, but without the white-cast caused by a flash. Night Sight takes several shots and puts them on top of each other to get a naturally lit image, even in the dark.

Night Sight

Know your angles: Positioning your face slightly to one side can make your selfie look less like an I.D. photo, and more like a natural shot. Using photography’s “Rule of Thirds” can help you snap a great picture, by bringing the focus of your photo to the area in an image where your eye naturally falls.


Surfer Selfie


Control your portraits: The subtle blur on Portrait Mode can help you pop against the background of your selfie. With Pixel 3 and 3a, you can adjust the blur to your liking. And always remember: Portrait Mode works best when the subject can stand out against a busy background.

Portrait Mode GIF

Don’t over-edit:Just like your parents have always told you: “you’re beautiful.” While editing apps are great, make sure you still look like yourself after you snap your selfie.


Stories of Yoga on Google Arts & Culture

Yoga has been around for a few millennia, but I’m completely new to the practice and have only practiced a few poses, like Ekpadasana (the “one leg posture”). Just like a yoga teacher would lead you through the steps of this posture, a new Google Arts & Culture collection called Stories of Yoga, takes you through the history, culture and science behind the practice. If you’re a new yogi like me, follow the sequence below to learn the “one leg posture,” and read on for some insights our partners have shared for the “Stories of Yoga” exhibit.

1. Come to a standing posture. Take in a deep breath.

Do you know what the word “yoga” means? It has a lot of nuanced interpretations. The ancient Indian text, called Rigveda, implied yoga means “achieving the unachieved,” “harnessing,” or “connection,” and the exhibition “What is Yoga?” explains other interpretations.

2. Finding your balance, bring up your right foot and place it in the center of the inner thigh of your left leg. Your toes should point downward.

One of the most widely-known gurus, Swami Sivananda, introduced five principles of yoga: proper exercise (āsana), the right breathing (prāṇāyāma), relaxation (śavāsana), proper diet, and positive thinking & meditation (vedānta).

3. Bring your palms together in front of your chest as if in prayer, and focus your gaze on a spot in the distance in front of you. Exhale.

Yoga is older than you might think, it actually dates back by a few millennia. The so-called Vedas and Upanishads started referring to yoga around 3000 BC. Two of the earliest teachers who recorded texts dedicated to yoga were Yajnavalkya and Patanjali. Visit the Museum of Classical Yoga and explore a brief timeline.

4. Hold the position and inhale and exhale deeply a few times.

Yoga strengthens your body as well as the mind. Learn about Shri Yogendra, who started off as a wrestler before rooting himself into yoga and founding the Yoga Institute. Or follow the journey of well known guru B.K.S Iyengar, who used yoga to heal his tuberculosis-affected body.

5. Release back into the standing posture slowly, and repeat for the other leg.

Did you know that women were actually barred from practicing the yoga discipline? Meet pioneer Shrimati Sita Devi Yogendra, who changed perceptions by becoming the first female guru. She introduced sequences specially tailored for women’s physiology.

6. As a variation, you can lift your arms up all the way while holding the prayer position. As another variation, you can do the entire sequence while lying flat on your back instead of standing.

There are so many different postures and their variations, and each school has a set of their own. Take a sneak-peek into some of the yoga centers in virtual walkthroughs and see the practice sessions up close.

It is not a big stretch to learn more about yoga thanks to Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres & Ashrams, The Yoga Institute, Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Vivekananda House and other institutions on Google Arts & Culture at g.co/storiesofyoga.

How we fight fake business profiles on Google Maps

Google Maps helps people explore, navigate and get things done—and increasingly people are using Google Maps to find local businesses. Over the years, we’ve added more than 200 million places to Google Maps and every month we connect people to businesses more than nine billion times, including more than one billion phone calls and three billion requests for directions. 


To help people find the places and businesses they're looking for—both big and small—Local Guides, business owners and people using Maps every day can contribute to business information. We get millions of contributions each day (like new business profiles, reviews, star ratings, and more) and the vast majority of these contributions are helpful and accurate. But occasionally, business scammers take advantage of local listings to make a profit. They do things like charge business owners for services that are actually free, defraud customers by posing as real businesses, and impersonate real businesses to secure leads and then sell them. Even though fake business profiles are a small percentage of the overall business profiles on Google, local business scammers have been a thorn in the internet’s side for over a decade. They even existed back when business listings were printed, bound and delivered to your doorstep. We take these issues very seriously and have been using a wide array of techniques and approaches to limit abuse on our platforms. 


These scammers use a wide range of deceptive techniques to try to game our system—as we shut them down, they change their techniques, and the cycle continues. Although it’s important that we make it easy for legitimate businesses to get their business profiles on Google, we’ve also implemented strict policies and created tools that enable people to flag these issues so we can take action. It’s a constant balancing act and we’re continually working on new and better ways to fight these scams using a variety of ever-evolving manual and automated systems. But we can’t share too many details about these efforts without running the risk of actually helping scammers find new ways to beat our systems—which defeats the purpose of all the work we do. 


We understand the concerns of those people and businesses impacted by local business scammers and back in 2017 we announced the progress we’d made. There was still work to be done then and there’s still work to be done now. We have an entire team dedicated to addressing these issues and taking constant action to remove profiles that violate our policies. Here’s more information about the progress we made against this type of abuse last year:  

  • We took down more than 3 million fake business profiles––and more than 90 percent of those business profiles were removed before a user could even see the profile. 

  • Our internal systems were responsible for more than 85 percent of these removals. 

  • More than 250,000 of the fake business profiles we removed were reported to us by users. 

  • We disabled more than 150,000 user accounts that were found to be abusive – a 50 percent increase from 2017. 

This year, we’ve already introduced a new way to report suspicious business profiles and have started to apply refined techniques to business categories where we’re seeing an increase in fraud attempts. To help foster a healthy ecosystem, we’re also donating settlement funds from litigation against bad actors to organizations that educate businesses and consumers about fraud. As we continue to fight against fraud, we’re making sure people people can flag issues when they see them. Here’s how: 

Every month Maps is used by more than a billion people around the world, and every day we and our users work as a community to improve the map for each other. We know that a small minority will continue trying to scam others, so there will always be work to do and we’re committed to keep doing better. 


For this Googler, teaching code is a “drag”

If you’re looking to learn how to code, there are tons of tutorials on YouTube—but only a few star a wise-cracking drag queen in a candy-colored wig. That’s Anna Lytical, who was dreamed up by Billy Jacobson, an engineer at Google’s New York office who wants to bring some drag to the tech world—and bring some tech to the drag world, too. 

Billy's interest in drag and computer science started around the same time, in high school. He got into drag as a fan, through watching the show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” after school. By the time he moved to New York after college, the show had become an Emmy-winning hit and he was inspired to give drag a try himself. “I had been looking for a new creative outlet, because I had done a lot of theater in high school and I was not doing any of that in the city,” he says. 

So he watched makeup tutorials on YouTube, and took a class to refine his skills. About two years ago, he performed for the first time as Anna Lytical, a name he says describes his personality on and off stage. “I’ll always be analytical even if I’m not Anna Lytical,” he jokes. (He briefly contemplated another math-inspired name, Carrie the One, but it was already taken.)

This year, Billy decided to take Anna Lytical to YouTube, with an unexpected twist: a channel dedicated to teaching people about computer science. With nods to famous drag queens, Anna’s videos teach people how to code, with lots of projects and pop-culture references to keep viewers interested.

Anna Lytical's coding tutorials

The channel is a departure from other educational videos, which can sometimes be dry and academic. “If you want to make fan art for your favorite drag queen, why not turn it into an interactive website?” Billy says, explaining how he uses projects to teach people about CS. “That’s a way you could get introduced to coding.” This month, Anna Lytical’s channel started an in-depth series that serves as an introduction to computer science, “all dragged up.” 

Anna Lytical teaches Computer Science 101

“I’m trying to bring tech to people who are interested in drag, and show them you can be queer and flamboyant and be an engineer and code and that’s totally fine,” Billy says. “I’m also showing people in tech you can be a guy who wears makeup, and you can be an engineer who does drag and performs and expresses yourself.”

Billy says it’s important to boost LGBTQ+ representation in the tech world, because the industry should reflect the people who use tech products. (That’s everyone, after all.) “If there aren’t people like you building the technology around you, you’re not going to get represented in it,” he says. “There could be a form asking you to fill out information about yourself, and maybe there’s not a gender option that lines up with you. Or a name field that doesn’t accept a character in your name. Representation all around is really important.”

Through Anna Lytical, Billy has found more than just the creative outlet he was looking for. “I don’t totally think of Anna Lytical as a separate person, but more of a space,” he says. “A space I’m free to express myself however I want, wear whatever I want and feel comfortable with it.” Not all Anna Lytical’s videos feature full wigs and dialed-up glamour—one, for example, is a casual tutorial, filmed in a bathroom, demonstrating how to create the Chrome logo using eye makeup. 

Anna Lytical's Chrome makeup tutorial

Regardless of the glam factor, Billy says it’s all drag. “I think drag means a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” he explains. “A lot of drag we see in the media is about exploring femininity, but I see a lot of people explore masculinity with drag, too. I like to go in both directions and play with all these things.” 

Billy Jacobson (left) presenting at I/O 2019.

Billy (left) presenting at I/O 2019.

Billy took the stage at I/O this year to discuss storing Internet of Things data. And though the audience may not have noticed, he brought a little bit of drag with him. He wore foundation and concealer, and played up his eyebrows with makeup, which gave him an extra dose of confidence on stage. “It’s kind of having a lucky charm. Maybe not everyone’s going to see it if you keep it in your pocket, but it’s there for you,” he says. “People probably won’t notice I’m wearing makeup, but I know. It’s not for them, it’s for me.”