Community Endorsements for Local Searches

Imagine joining a social network like Orkut or Friendster and having the chance to leave comments on local businesses, restaurants, and more, and having those endorsements show up in Google local results.

The folks at Google have imagined something like that, and have published a patent application that describes how it might be done.

Methods and systems for endorsing local search results

Inventors: Thomas Christopher Korte, Sumit Agarwal, and Celia Saino
United States Patent Application 20060004713
Filed: June 30, 2004
Published January 5, 2006

Abstract:

Methods and systems for improving user search experience with a search engine by providing a way for associated users to create and share personalized lists of local search results and/or advertisements through endorsements of such local search results and/or ads.

Local search endorsements can be used to personalize the search engine’s ranking of local search results by offering a way for users to re-rank the results for themselves and for those who trust them.

How it might work in a nutshell:

Someone signs up to become a member of a social network.

As a member, that person can endorse or recommend local articles or advertisements.

Some type of icon or indicator would then appear in the local search results in response to a query, and have that endorsement associated with it.

In addition, members of those groups could see endorsements from other members of the social network.

They would have the ability to re-rank those endorsements in that list. Their actions could influence the rankings of sites that appear in local results for other members of the network, and possibly for people who trust that network.

There’s also a mention in this patent application of an unpublished U.S. patent application that is also pending titled “Methods and Systems Endorsing Search Results.” By the omission of the word “local” from that one, it sounds like a way to make these endorsements work with the main search results.

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6 thoughts on “Community Endorsements for Local Searches”

  1. Something like this already exists. Evite launched this a while back. They built a social network on top of their invitations platform by finding relationships based on invitations. Then they took the Citysearch local listings and allowed users to rate them. You can go to the personalizations section at http://new.evite.com/#home and you can also search for locations there and view public ratings as well as your friends’ favorites based on their ratings. The plan has long been to move in this direction and provide these types of features. Research had shown that, when looking for services (i.e. a dentist), you were more likely to ask a friend than look in the yellow pages. Translating that online and extending that further meant that you were more likely to trust the recommendations of your friends (especially since you knew their personality traits in making these decisions) than from total strangers…and, yes, I worked at Citysearch and am currently employed at another IAC company but I’m not biased. ;-)

  2. Thanks, emad.

    It’s good to hear of a version of this being done somewhere.

    I suspect that we will be seeing more and more of having communities interact with an annotation of sites and places like this. The evite implementation is nicely done.

    I am wondering though if we will see something like this appear on Google local results, since they’ve applied for a patent on the process.

  3. Hi Nadir,

    Very true, especially if they are someone that you trust.

    I don’t think that we are at the beginning of this either. Maybe it’s just a little more visible because people are finding ways to enable people to program recommendations.

  4. Hi Bill,
    I have said the same kind of comments on seorefugee.com about communities that are going to play an important role in the way people discover and find products online.
    I do believe that blogs, communities spaces, forums are going to change the way we use the net. Searching in search engine is still very primitive,and not very interactive. But getting a comment from someone on a forum or a listing about a product can influence what you’re going to purchase.

  5. That was one of my thoughts upon first skimming this patent application.

    And they do have the personal reviews and endorsements in place, but not necessarily community ones.

    I’d have to say that it’s close, in that individual endorsements are in place.

    But this takes it one step further in exploring how connected people might be within a social network, and the focus is on being able to choose to see endorsements based upon the information, and the connectedness between members of a community.

    For instance, community members who live in San Francisco reviewing a restaurant in San Francisco, could be isolated from the other folks offering a review of the same restaurant.

    What this patent application seems to add the most is the ability to know more about the people making the recommendations, and to build an increased level of trust based upon that knowledge.

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