December 10, 2009

Google Expands Web Elements, Adds Reader, Translate

Google is trying to make it ever easier to take little pieces from Google and bring them to your Web site. As the company embraced YouTube embeds following their 2006 acquisition, which have helped the video site become far and away the leader on the Web, the company is extending and centralizing its "Google Web Elements" property, hoping users from around the Web will see how easy it is to add Google content to their Web pages. Each code snippet now leads viewers back to the company's expanding Web Elements section, and today, the company added tools to highlight shared items from Google Reader, enable automatic translation of your Web page into viewers' language of choice, and the ability to share content to their social network, Orkut.

Example Web Elements for Reader and Translate

In a recent meeting I had with Google engineers at the company's Mountain View campus, I was told the expansion of Web Elements is an extension of the company's goal to be open and enable data to flow between sites, rather than keeping all the traffic for itself in a central location. But it is perceived that Google hasn't yet done a fantastic job of highlighting this available content, so, starting today, Web Elements on downstream sites will feature a Web Elements logo and click through to the service's directory.

The addition of the three new items brings the list of currently available Web Elements to eleven, joining Calendar, Conversation, Custom Search, Maps, News, Presentations, Spreadsheets and YouTube News. One assumes that Picasa albums or other Google properties can't be all that far behind.

The Google Reader shared items Web Element isn't all that different from the JavaScript code I have featured on my site the last few years, but it puts the option in a more visible place, and sports the Web Elements logo. The Translate feature doesn't rely on a pull-down menu option on each active blog, but instead, gets triggered when it is detected the visitor has a native language other than the content's tongue. Sharing on Orkut is nothing dramatic, acting like the "Share to Facebook" icons common around the Web.

The story of content going viral is well-known. Seeing YouTube on practically all downstream videos made YouTube a market leader. Similarly, in earlier days, the Hotmail text in Hotmail messages encouraged friends to sign up. If Google can provide enough widgets in their Web Elements area and can show real value that is easily discoverable, it isn't too far out of line to see these new products popping up more and more around the Web. Go find them at