Use Google Docs? You might want to read this…

Received this in the mail today:

Google Apps: Important changes coming to published Google Docs

Hello Google Apps admin,

We wanted to let you know about some important changes around published documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

In a few weeks, documents, spreadsheets and presentations that have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website will be crawled and indexed, which means they can appear in search results you see on Google.com and other search engines. There is no change for documents published inside your organization or shared privately.

If you wish to prevent users from publishing documents to the public internet, we now offer an admin control in the Google Apps Control Panel that allows users to continue to ‘share documents outside the domain’ without allowing them to publish the files to the public Internet.  To change this setting, follow these steps:

– Login to your admin control panel
– Select Service Settings > Docs
– Un-check the option ‘Users can publish documents to the public internet’

If a user does not want their published Docs to be crawled, then the user must unpublish them by doing the following:

– Go to the ‘Share tab’
– For documents and spreadsheets, choose ‘Publish as web page’. For presentations choose ‘Publish/embed’
– Click on the button that says ‘Stop publishing’

For more details, please see this Help Center article: http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60781

This is a very exciting change as your published docs linked to from public websites will reach a much wider audience of people!

While there is a particular category of docs involved here – “documents, spreadsheets and presentations that have been explicitly published outside your organization and are linked to from a public website“, I believe that there will be a number of users that have done this for very specific reasons that will not have expected the contents of those files to then appear in Google searches.

If that’s you, then now might be a good time to go set those account preferences, or else to unlink the documents from your websites/blogs etc.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!