Two new features from Google, neither of which are named 'Plus'

The big news from Google over the past week or so has been the launch of Google Plus… which I won’t be writing about today, for reasons I’ll mention at the end of this post. But I wanted to bring your attention to two other Google initiatives of interest to news publishers, which deserve not to be lost in the hype over Google Plus.

First, Google’s launched a new program to identify authors and attribute their webpages to them. The program uses authors’ personal Google Profile pages as the focal point for listing and linking all their current work around the Web.

The program provides some additional visibility to participating authors’ work in exchange for their linking more visibly to their Google Profile pages. (Here’s mine, so you can see how this works from that end.)

It’s a relatively easy four-step process to participate. But you’ll need access to the content management system your publication runs.

First, you’ll need to add a rel=”author” attribute to the anchor tags around the bylines of your articles. That anchor tag should hyperlink your author profile page on the same Web domain.

Second, that author profile page will need to include a link back to your Google Profile. And the anchor tag linking the Google Profile should include a rel=”me” attribute.

Third, in the links section of your Google Profile, you should include a link back to the author profile page on your website, checking the box that “this page is specifically about me.”

Fourth, make sure that the “+1” tab on your Google Profile is set to public. If you want to make sure you did everything correctly, you can ask for Google to review your work by filling out this form.

What happens then?

Google will begin adding all of your bylined articles to the +1 tab of your Google Profile. It will also automatically assign a “+1” from you to those articles, so you don’t have to manually hype your own stuff to the search engine anymore. Google also will add a thumbnail of your profile photo next to the links to each of your articles in its search engine results pages [SERPs].

What’s the value of those steps? I don’t know yet. It’s too early for me to tell if those steps are driving more traffic from Google to the articles that I write. Or if the additional +1s are moving my articles up in the SERPs, relative to where they would have been without them.

But, having been in situations where people have tried to copy my work online and pass it off as their own, I’m encouraged that this system exists by which Google is associating my work with my profile as soon as it’s published. It’s also just fun me to make code change on my website and see an immediate change in the Google SERPs. I don’t know if I’m moving up any spots, but I think having my picture there next to my work is kinda neat.

Google’s second initiative is over on YouTube.

For videos that appear on a website with an RSS feed, an “As seen on (Website name)” link now appears just below those videos on YouTube. That link sends readers to a new YouTube page for your website (not your website’s YouTube channel) that lists the most-recently linked YouTube videos on your site, and links back to the articles that embedded or referenced them. (Here’s an example from one of my websites.)

YouTube is building these pages from RSS feeds, looking for YouTube links and embed codes. Do note that YouTube appears to be referencing only the first link or embed code it finds in a post, ignoring additional videos in that post. And it ignores entirely posts without video links or embeds.

Again, I haven’t yet seen any increase in site or video traffic from this new feature. But I’m intrigued by the “Play All” option that appears on the top of YouTube’s generated pages for the videos on my sites.

The “Play All” option effectively creates a playlist of all those referenced videos, on the fly. With one click, I can watch videos from all of my recent blog posts, back to back, in a single stream.

That’s bringing us one step closer to the day when video-using websites adopt the functionality of a traditional television channel. While I enjoy the interactivity of online media, we won’t reach our largest possible audience until we offer an alternative for more passive consumers. We need to get to the moment when someone can switch on the television, click to an online channel, then watch video after video from that channel without having to navigate, much like I can sit in front of my TV and watch a traditional channel such as ABC or Comedy Central for as long as I want. When that happens, that’s the day that online blows up the television industry the way that it’s already blown up print media.

Finally, I wanted to mention why I’m not writing about Google Plus. It’s not that I haven’t gotten an invitation (and thank you to all who sent one). It’s that Google won’t let me use it. Whenever I go to, I get this message:

This feature is not available for your account
You must be over a certain age to use this feature.”

Seeing as I’m 43, and that I find it hard to believe that Google developed a feature that’s only for use by Baby Boomers and older, I looked on my Google Dashboard to see just how old Google thinks I am.

Turns out, Google thinks I’m 16. The only place on the Google Dashboard that mentions age is under the YouTube settings, which lists my age as 16. Why? I don’t know, but I’m going to take a guess. I acquired a YouTube account name from another user, who was 16, so it appears that when Google transferred that account to my profile, it didn’t reassign my age to the YouTube account, but assigned the old YouTube account owner’s age to my profile. That’s the only explanation I can devise.

That seems like a pretty questionable data-management practice to me. (What happens if a 25-year-old transfers a YouTube account to a 16-year-old? Will that minor now get access to age-restricted videos on YouTube, as well as to Google Plus?) And why would Google launch a social media effort that excludes teenagers anyway?

Rather than create another Google Account just to get access to Plus, I’ve asked Google’s engineers to take a look at my case and to see if Google can list my age correctly. I suppose I could just create another Google account, but I’m hoping Google can correct its error with my current account. (I don’t want to have to put my friends and colleagues on Google Plus through the hassle of including me in their circles via one account now if I’m going to change back to my correct account at some point in the future.)

So I hope all you old folks are enjoying your time with Google Plus before we “teen-agers” crash your party. ;^)

About Robert Niles

Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at


  1. says:

    “Rather than create another Google Account just to get access to Plus, I’ve asked Google’s engineers to take a look at my case and to see if Google can list my age correctly. ”

    How did you reach them? I (and many others) am having the same problem with G+!

  2. says:

    You’re not along in the Google+ “This feature is not available for your account” issue. I’m 56 years old and created a YouTube account last year. For some reason, it is listing my age as 16 as well. I seriously doubt that I entered my DOB incorrectly. I’ve now deleted that YouTube account and yet Google still thinks I’m “underage” when I respond to my friend’s request to join Google+. Pretty frustrating.

  3. The engineer who helped me with the authorship page referred my case to other Google engineers. Ultimately, they couldn’t offer a solution beyond suspending my account, then reconfirming it with a credit card to prove I was of age. Since I didn’t want to take any risk of losing my AdSense and DoubleClick for Publishers accounts, which are associated with that Google Account, I chose to open another Google Account for Google+.

    Yeah, Google’s got a bug here.