Google Starts Blogging

Search giant Google has launched a business blog to communicate with the public about “new technology, hot issues, and the wide world of search.”

The launch of the blog, at www.google.com/googleblog, comes one day after Google-owned Blogger.com re-launched its service with a new look and new functionality.

“Ever since I came to Google, they’ve been talking about putting up an official Google blog. And now, less than 15 months later, voilÀ,” wrote Evan Williams, the Blogger program manager at Google, in the first post.

Williams’ post said the blog will contain, “regular bloggy things: What Larry had for breakfast. What Sergey thinks of that Hellboy movie. Which Dawson’s Creek character reminds us most of Eric. And perhaps, news about Google, and our thoughts on whatever random events cross our horizon.”

Already there are signs of the internal politics that must lurk behind the blog’s launch. The second unsigned post on the blog — largely aimed at recruitment — originally held references to the outsourcing controversy and defended the company’s decision to open offices in Bangalore, India. Later Tuesday, the references to outsourcing were removed in an update to the post.

However difficult they may be for businesses to handle internally, blogs are becoming increasingly popular among those seeking to build better relationships with their customers. Because blogging is often a very personal activity, business blogs allow companies to show their human sides to the public.

“The first post [about job recruiting] is underwhelming, to say the least,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch.com, part of the ClickZ Network. (Sullivan commented before the post was updated.) “What would be great is if the Google blog was the official Google blog but had all of the fun and spirit of some of the workers.” Sullivan notes how some companies’ employees’ blogs — those of Jeremy Zawodny at Yahoo, Kevin Fox at Google, and Robert Scoble at Microsoft — have become closely watched by followers of those firms.

So far, other than the two posts on the Google blog, there’s a description, an email feedback link, a link to an Atom site feed and a search box. It follows the Google style by using black text on a plain white background, with the Google logo providing the color. Though the just-relaunched Blogger.com now allows for the addition of a “comments” feature, Google hasn’t turned on that option for its official site, opting for an email feedback link instead. Google also has chosen to leave posts unsigned, an interesting decision given the usual blogging aim of putting a human face to the company. Williams’ post was signed in the body of the posting, and the second job recruiting message was unsigned (though the Atom feed revealed the author to be “A Googler”).

“The second post is anonymous, which doesn’t follow ‘blogger best practices’,” said Rick Bruner, a writer and consultant who helps businesses with their blogging strategies. “Maybe they’ll change that and maybe they won’t. They’re trying to humanize it but then there’s this anonymous corporate voice.”

Interestingly, the launch comes as Google is preparing for an initial public offering of stock, during the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) “quiet period” in which companies usually refrain from making public statements that could be interpreted as an offer to sell stock.

SEC guidance suggests “ordinary-course business and financial information” is acceptable, but the company is departing slightly from its ordinary communications by establishing a new channel of communication with the blog. Still, an attorney familiar with securities law says Google shouldn’t have a problem, so long as it’s careful about what is posted.

Industry watchers have speculated that blogs will play an even greater role in Google’s future. Tuesday’s launch of the company’s official blog has long been a subject of discussion in the blogging community, since someone noticed a page consisting of the word “test” at google.com/blog. (That page now returns an error.) Others have noted that Google’s bot, which crawls the Web gathering information to be returned in search results, have appeared to be “looking” for XML feed files — files automatically generated by many blogging software products. This has caused many to speculate Google has a blog search offering in the works.

Google didn’t respond to inquiries about the new blog by press time.

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