In about two weeks we will be launching a change for published docs. The change will allow published docs that are linked to from a public website to be crawled and indexed, which means they can appear in search results you see on Google.com and other search engines.
Please note that this only applies to docs which you explicitly publish using the 'Publish as web page' or 'Publish/embed' option, and which are linked to from a publicly crawled webpage.
It sounds like a sensible idea. Let's say I'm a professor of widgetology at Harvard, I've written a 20-page academic paper about prehistoric widgets with Google Docs, I want it to be searchable. Would I rather:
(1) Link to the article on Google's server from my widgetology blog, or...
(2) Copy the article to another server (such as my university's Web site) and link to the document there.
Option (1) is quicker and easier, and I'm likely to prefer it if I'm more interested in writing about prehistoric widgets than in messing around with a Web site. (Readers and researchers are likely to prefer it, too, if it means I'll be quicker to make the paper available to them.)
signor_john and why can't they just use like blogspot or wordpress or some other free hosting service like godaddy with a WYSIWYG website builder? This seems to be a major invasion of privacy for a ton of people. People are generally stupid and not technically savvy... few will know how to opt-out.
i would imagine that most companies would baulk at the idea of allowing their employees to use google docs, if there's the possibility of them forgetting to tick the right box and the data going public. the fact that it's free won't change their minds. looks like microsoft office is safe for the time being.