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  • Google gobble: Thanksgiving trends on Search
    In just a few hours, people across the U.S. will be settling in for a day of food, family and football as they celebrate Thanksgiving. As the day of gluttony and gratitude comes closer, people have been turning to Google to plan the big meal, get cooking tips and more. Here’s a look at some of the top Turkey Day searches—for more, see Google Trends.

    The reason for the season
    In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, people turn to Google to learn more about the origins of the holiday and its traditions, both new and old. Top questions include “Why did the pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving?” and “What president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?”
    The other reason for the season
    Gratitude may be in the name, but food is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving. For weeks now people have been searching for recipes to wow their relatives this Thursday, from classics like cranberry relish and mashed potatoes to turkey alternatives like lasagna and beef stew. Here’s a look at the top recipes that trend every November:
    Even amongst regional variations, family eccentricities or that ambitious new recipe you clipped from a food magazine, there’s one dish that takes the casserole on Thanksgiving Day. Stuffing is the top searched Thanksgiving recipe in 49 out of 50 states, with only North Carolina standing up proud for sweet potatoes. Our take: Why not have both?
    How do I…?
    Even for people whose usual meal prep consists of shuffling through take-out menus, Thanksgiving is a time to roll up your sleeves and get to work in the kitchen. That—and the fact that a 20-lb poultry dish is a little harder to put on the table than, say, the ol’ blue box of mac and cheese—means it’s also a time when many turn to Google to brush up on some cooking tips. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you’re asking all kinds of questions, from simple queries like “how to cook spaghetti squash“ and “how to boil eggs” to advanced topics like “what can I make ahead for thanksgiving?” and the very crucial, very daunting “How do you make turkey gravy?”

    Let’s talk turkey
    The top Thanksgiving recipe question, however, is focused on the main dish: “How to cook a turkey?” Related questions include “how much turkey do you cook per person?” (Answer: there’s math involved but the most important part is making enough for sandwiches for multiple days after), followed quickly by “How long to cook a turkey?” (answer: more math).

    And though roasting is still the top trending technique method for cooking the big bird, enterprising (or efficiency-oriented) chefs across the U.S. are also searching for tips on how to smoke and deep-fry their turkeys. Proof that there’s more than one way to cook a turkey.
    Whether you’ll be slicing into pumpkin or pecan pie, eating your turkey smoked, turduckened or made of tofu, serving up fresh cranberry sauce or popping open a can—we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who is now very hungry

    Emily Wood
    Managing Editor
    Google Blogs

  • Discover Jordan’s past and present in Google Maps
    Starting today you can explore more than 30 historical sites throughout Jordan in Google Street View. To tell you more, read today’s guest blog post, by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. -Ed.

    What a great day for Jordan and Jordanians! Thanks to Google Street View, we can now share the rich, proud and varied history of our country with anyone who has an Internet connection. With more than 30 historical sites available to explore virtually, people all over the world now have a window into our beautiful Kingdom in the heart of the Middle East.

    Throughout the ages, ancient civilizations have left their footprints in Jordan. Reminders of the Silk Road which linked the regions of the world in commerce. Ancient cities, such as the Romans’ Jerash and the Nabateans’ Petra. Significant religious sites, like Mount Nebo and the River Jordan. And, to this day, we continue to discover such footprints.

    With Google Street View, would-be visitors, or those just curious to learn more about our ancient lands, can explore Jordan’s unique historical heritage online. That’s one of the reasons I love this technology. Not only does it connect millions of people from all corners of the world, it provides a lens on the past. And when we understand more about each other’s stories and cultures and histories, we realize that we are more alike than we are different. That’s why we must preserve these treasures for future generations. They’re a doorway to our shared narrative.

    To this day, after too many trips to count, Jordan’s ancient archeological site, the Rose-Red city of Petra, still fills me with awe. Concealed in majestic mountain gorges, visitors can wander through the entire city of Petra, imagining what life was like in the thriving trading center and capital of the Nabataean kingdom. Carved by hand into vibrant red, white and pink sandstone cliffs, it has, miraculously, survived earthquakes to withstand the test of time. Film buffs might recognize it from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Harrison Ford and Sean Connery joined forces in their quest to find the Holy Grail. Now, you can step back in time and take a narrated tour of this hidden gem, exploring the tombs, sites and amphitheater that span an area the size of lower Manhattan.
    The Treasury in Petra is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old

    Jerash is the second most visited site outside Petra. It’s considered one of the best preserved examples of Roman architecture outside Italy. With one click, you can stroll through its ruins, walk its streets, sing in its theaters and contemplate life in its baths and temples. Before you leave, remember to send a message through the city’s ancient whispering columns!
    Jerash Roman South Theater can fit more than 3000 people

    Colonnaded Street - Jerash, Jordan

    Mount Nebo, located 10 km west of the Roman Byzantine town of Madaba, is one of the most revered holy sites in Jordan. While you’re close to Madaba, step into its historic church to view the Madaba Mosaic Map, the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history.

    The Madaba Mosaic Map, created in 6th century AD, originally contained more than 2 million tesserae!

    The Madaba Mosaic Map in church of Saint George - Madaba, Jordan
    What could be more relaxing than a float in the world’s saltiest waters? A visit to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is known to be a very therapeutic experience, thanks to its oxygen-rich water and mineral-mud.
    Dead Sea Panorama - Dead Sea, Jordan

    While you’re exploring, don’t be surprised if you find a medieval castle right in the middle of the desert. We’ve got many—from crusader castles like Al Karak, to Ajlun Castle built by Saladin, to Umayyad desert castles Qasr Amra and Qasr Al Kharana.
    Qasr Kharana - Jordan

    Jordan remains a haven of peace and moderation in the Middle East. So, please, come and visit us. Meet and talk with our warm and hospitable people. Taste our cuisine. Learn some Arabic. Relax in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea and the Ma'in Springs. Marvel at the rich colors of Wadi Rum, the spectacular desert backdrop to "The Martian." Walk in the footsteps of our forebears. There’s so much to see and experience.

    There’s something for everyone in Jordan. And I couldn’t be happier that now, thanks to Google Maps, we can share our rich cultural heritage with the world. Visit to start your tour. As we say to all our visitors: ahlan wa sahlan. Hello and welcome.

    Posted by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan

    Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan

  • For Star Wars fans, old and new
    The first memory I have of watching a movie is with my dad. I was around four years old, and one afternoon he fired up our bulky, '80s-style front-projection TV and the Betamax, and popped in Star Wars. Of course, it was *amazing*, and I've watched the original trilogy a dozen times since.

    It probably isn't a surprise that there are tons of Star Wars fans like me here at Google. You can regularly spot Darth Vaders, dogs dressed like Yoda, and even the occasional stormtrooper, roaming the halls of our data centers (probably still looking for those droids). So when we first heard about Episode VII, we started thinking about what a Google tribute to these epic stories might look like: “Wouldn't it be cool if there was some sort of Star Wars thingy in Search? The Millennium Falcon in Cardboard would be sweet! What if Google Translate could decipher galactic languages?"... and on, and on, and on. As this list of ideas grew, so too did the band of passionate engineers and product folks who wanted to build them.

    We reached out to our friends at Lucasfilm and Disney, and since then we’ve been working together on building It's a place for fans, by fans, and starting today you can choose the light or the dark side, and then watch your favorite Google apps like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Chrome and many more transform to reflect your path. And that's just the beginning. We've got more coming between now and opening night—the Millennium Falcon in all its (virtual reality) glory included, so stay tuned. And we've hidden a few easter eggs, too. So awaken the Force within, and be on the lookout for things from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

    See you in line at the theater in December. I'll be there with my dad.

    Posted by Clay Bavor, VP of Product Management

  • Introducing the new Google+
    If you head over to Google+ today, you’ll see that things look a little different.

    Since we last posted, we’ve spent a lot of time listening to what people using Google+ had to say. There were two features they kept coming back to: Communities, which now average 1.2 million new joins per day, and Collections, which launched just five months ago and is growing even faster. Whether it’s the Nonfiction Addiction Community, where people can be found discussing the best in Crime or Travel storytelling, or the Watch Project Collection, where more than 40,000 people are following an antique watch hobbyist, these are the places on Google+ where people around the world are spending their time discovering and sharing things they love.

    And so we’ve reimagined Google+ to help them do that. Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly—we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one. You’ll need to opt-in to this new version of Google+ on the web to see the changes—check out our Google+ post for more on how to give it a try.
    Creating great products that solve real needs and make life easier for people is something Google is always striving for. Your feedback got us this far—as we continue to refine Google+, we’d love to keep hearing from you. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing how today’s changes help kickstart even more conversations around everything from Zombie Cats to Vintage Calculators.

    Posted by Eddie Kessler, Director of Streams

  • Get ahead this Thanksgiving with Google Maps
    It’s that time of year again. Next week, tens of millions of us will hit the roads, consume millions of pounds of turkey, and then spend billions on Black Friday deals. Google Maps looked at Thanksgiving trends from the last three years to uncover the most useful information to make your holiday plans go a little bit easier. Whether you’re traveling, doing some last-minute grocery shopping, or Black Friday deal-dashing, here’s our day-by-day guide to braving the holiday crowds.

    Tuesday: No travel day leading up to the holiday is going to be a breeze, but if you can, start driving Tuesday rather than Wednesday. Yes, it’s still the second-worst travel day of the week, but according to Google Maps searches, for the last three years Wednesday has been the worst travel day—with the exceptions of Boston (Tuesday), and Honolulu, Providence and San Francisco (all Saturday).

    Wednesday: Americans are pretty predictable when it comes to the holidays: for the third year in a row, “ham shop” was the #1 trending destination search on Google Maps the day before Thanksgiving. Whether you’re running out to a ham shop, pie shop (#2), or liquor store (#3), make sure you don’t head all the way there just to find it closed. This year Google Maps and Google Search have added holiday hours, so when you search for a business, you’ll see its updated holiday schedule.

    Thanksgiving Day: Maybe folks were put off by the trauma of last year’s burnt turkey? Nationwide, “buffet restaurants” were the #1 trending Google Maps term on Thanksgiving Day. But locally, folks were heading in other directions. In Houston, “doughnut shops” were trending on Thanksgiving. It was “bars” in Chicago— maybe people needed a break from their families. And Miami residents were interested in looking their holiday best—”beauty salons” were among the trending searches by the South Beach crowd.

    Black Friday: The top Black Friday Google Maps trends nationwide were predictably of the “electronics store” and “outlet mall” variety—with “Christmas tree farms” not far behind as people looked ahead. Digging into local trends, however, things get more surprising. New Yorkers were on the hunt for tattoo shops, among other things, Angelenos for hookah bars, and people in Detroit spent their Black Friday on the lookout for hamburgers. Whether you’re in the market for a Christmas tree tat or shopping deals, here’s a tip: use the Explore feature on Google Maps to discover the stores, restaurants and local entertainment around you.

    The weekend: Traffic patterns show that you’re better off driving home from a long weekend on Sunday rather than Saturday—traffic can be up to 40% worse on Saturday. And Google Maps will be with you all the way home, helping you check out gas prices and add detours to your route, without having to exit out of navigation.

    Posted by Pierre Petronin, Google Maps

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