Will Google Start Reading Text in Images on the Web Soon?

Googlebot Doesn’t Read Pictures of Text During Web Crawls

When I was an Administrator at Cre8asiteforums (2002-2007), one of my favorite forums on the site was one called the Website Hospital. People would come with their sites and questions about how they could improve them. One problem that often appeared was people having problems being found in search results for their sites for geographically related queries. One symptom for many sites experiencing that problem was that the only time the address of their business appeared on the site was in pictures of text, rather than actual text. This can be a problem when it comes to Google indexing that information. Google tells us they like text, and can have troubles indexing content found within images:

Most search engines are text-based. If you use JavaScript, DHTML, images, or rich media such as Silverlight to create navigation and links, Googlebot and other spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

Google’s web crawler couldn’t read pictures of text, and Google wasn’t indexing that location information for their sites’ because of that. Site owners were often happy to find out that they just needed to include the address of their business in text, so that Google could crawl and index that information, and make it more likely that they could be found for their location.

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Recalculating PageRank

A Google patent was granted on October 20th, 2015 titled Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a Web-link graph. It presents some changes to Google’s original PageRank.

I wrote about the very first PageRank patent in my post The First PageRank Patent and the Newest, where I posted a link to the original provisional copy of Lawrence Page’s Improved Text Searching in Hypertext Systems (pdf – 1.7m)

Under this new patent, Google adds a diversified set of trusted pages to act as seed sites. When calculating rankings for pages. Google would calculate a distance from the seed pages to the pages being ranked. A use of a trusted set of seed sites may sound a little like the TrustRank approach developed by Stanford and Yahoo a few years ago as described in Combating Web Spam with TrustRank (pdf). I don’t know what role, if any, the Yahoo paper had on the development of the approach in this patent application, but there seems to be some similarities.

Links from seed pages
Ranks would be based in part upon distances of links from seed pages.

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Google Files Patent for Drone Delivery Platform

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news, you may have seen a Reuters article about Google planning for the use of Drones titled Google aims to begin drone package deliveries in 2017 You may also have seen another article from Time Magazine that tells us it might be a while till we see drone delivery happening; Here’s Why Drone Delivery Won’t Be Reality anytime Soon. The thing I’ve been wondering is how do you end up getting a package from a drone? Where would it drop it off?

Drone and Moon
Drone and Moon
Don McCullough
Some rights reserved

Google published a patent application this morning that gives us an idea of how they envision that taking place. The patent application is:

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Move over Google Author Rank, Make way for Google Authoritative Rank

Dr, Seuss
Ted Geisel, who wrote under the name Dr. Seuss, Authoritative for Green Eggs and Ham?

An authoritative user is a user of one or more computer-implemented services (e.g., a social networking service) that has been determined to be authoritative (e.g., an expert) on one or more topics that can be associated with one or more queries

This quote comes from a patent that was granted on Tuesday at the USPTO titled, Showing prominent users for information retrieval requests

I read the patent Tuesday, and thought to revisit it after reading a post this morning by Mark Traphagen at Moz, titled Will Google Bring Back Google Authorship? It’s a good question and Mark brings up a fair amount of evidence to support the idea that they might bring back the concept of author authority in search results, even if they don’t bring back or rely upon authorship markup (adding a rel=”author” to a link to your Google+ profile from a page you write at, or linking to pages you contribute to from your Google+ profile). As Mark notes:

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How Google May Use Schema Vocabulary to Reduce Duplicate Content in Search Results

One of the challenges of optimizing an e-commerce site that has lots of filtering and sorting options can be to try to create a click path through the site so that all the pages on the site that you want indexed by a search engine get crawled and indexed. This could require setting up the site so that some URLs are stopped from being crawled and indexed by use of the site’s robots.txt file, the use of parameter handling, with some pages having meta robots elements that are listed as being set as noindex.

If that kind of care isn’t performed on a site, a lot more URLs on the site might be crawled and indexed than there should be. I worked on one e-commerce site that offered around 3,000 products and category pages; and had around 40,000 pages indexed in Google that included versions of URLs from the site that included HTTP and HTTPS protocols, www and non-www subdomains, and many URLs that included sorting and filtering data parameters. After I reduced the site to a number of URLs that was closer to the number of products if offered, those pages ended up ranking better in search results.

Faceted Search organization
The structure of a site, and filtering and sorting options may cause lots of duplication.

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The Evolution of Search

I just returned from a few days in Las Vegas and the Pubcon Conference.

I had the chance to see some great presentations and talk to a number of interesting folks, and the company that I am the Director of Search Marketing at, Go Fish Digital won a US Search Award for Best Use of Search for Travel/Leisure, for a campaign we did for Reston Limo.

I wanted to share my presentation from the conference here as well.

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Answer Boxes, Trigger Terms and Enriched Search Results

A few years ago, I wrote the following about post about Google’s OneBox Patent Application I was brought back to it, with a new Google patent that looks at answering questions within similar answer boxes, and showing rich content, like in the example below:

trigger terms
This weather enriched result used the word ‘weather’ as a trigger term in the query.

A patent filed by Google a couple of years ago and granted today takes another look at Oneboxes, and includes this statement early on:

A search engine provider, Google Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., has developed an “answer box” technology, known as OneBox, that has been available for several years. Using this technology, a set of web search features are offered that provide a quick and easy way for a search engine to provide users with information that is relevant to, or that answers, their search query. For example, a search engine may respond to a search query regarding everyday essential information, reference tools, trip planning information, or other information by returning, as the first search result, information responsive to the search query, instead of providing a link and a snippet for each of a number of relevant web pages that may contain information.

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Google Fights Keyword Stuffed Business Names Using a Surprisingness Value

A Google patent granted this week targets map spammers, who submit information about businesses to Google Maps, in a manner referred to as keyword stuffing.

The patent attempts to find words submitted by business owners as titles for businesses names that trigger a surprisingness value for combinations of words within a business title to determine whether a business listing is legitimate or fraudulent.

Traditionally, in Google Maps, the ranking signals used by business listings to include those businesses in search results depend upon their distance from a searcher, how prominent a business might be on the web, and how relevant the title for a business might be to the query used in a search to find the business.

When someone searches for a business. Google Maps may show off prominent businesses based on the searcher’s location. This patent targets people who might use that information to attract people to unrelated websites, by faking information in business listings. This patent targets people trying to take advantage of the use of well-known businesses located in a specific area:

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Getting Information about Search, SEO, and the Semantic Web Directly from the Search Engines