SEO and Defining Site Objectives

I like digging into some of the patents and papers that come from search engines and academics who study how search works.

But something else I find fascinating is how marketing fits into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and how important it is to know about both to be successful in getting traffic to a site. Or should I say the right traffic – visits from the people who will find the pages of a web site interesting and engaging to them.

A lot of that crossover is getting an insight into the words that people will both use to find a site, and expect to see upon its pages. That doesn’t come out of doing some research on wordtracker or nichebot or the Overture keyword selection tool (no longer available).

Those can be nice tools to use, but some of the most important steps in finding meaningful words that people will search for come earlier, before you should even be looking at those sites.

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Loren Baker and John Scott visit Google Japan

Some great pictures of Google Japan over at Search Engine Journal from Loren Baker. Loren and John Scott met up at the Tokyo offices of the search giant, and it sounds like they had a pretty informative tour, discussing issues such as search privacy in Japan, the new addition of local search, and more.

Wonder if we’ll start seeing some of those Google vending machines make their way to this side of the world.

Looking at Google Definitions

Over at Threadwatch, Graywolf started a thread titled Are you Optimizing for Google Definitions? There are some insightful comments in the thread, and I recalled a Google patent application that covered the topic.

I looked around the web to see if there had been any discussion about the patent application, but couldn’t find any. The document is System and method for providing definitions, (US Patent Application 20040236739) invented by Craig Nevill-Manning, filed on June 27, 2003 and published on November 25, 2004.

The abstract for the application is pretty general, but the document is fairly detailed. Here’s the abstract:

A system and method for providing definitions is described. A phrase to be defined is received. One or more documents, which each contain at least one definition, are determined. The phrase is matched to at least one of the definitions. One or more definitions for the phrase are presented.

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Google looks at multi-stage query processing

Determining how a term or phrase may be used in the context of a page can be helpful in deciding how relevant that page is in responding to a query from a searcher.

A patent application from Google was published this week which looks at possible ways of considering the context of those words, and describes a multiple stage process to determine relevancy and find results to a search.

Multi-Stage Query Processing Description Flowchart

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The document is fairly complex, but some possible actions that can be taken during the different stages described are:

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Move over pagerank: Google’s looking at phrases?

Google isn’t the biggest search engine that Anna Lynn Patterson has worked upon. That distinction probably falls to the Internet Archives, which she worked on before joining Google, and likely has a few billion more pages in its database than Google (the archive has 55 billion web pages right now).

In addition to that feat, Anna is the writer of a pretty good article on search engines, over at ACM Queue, titled Why Writing Your Own Search Engine is Hard.

The latest search engine description from Anna Patterson, published yesterday, involves a search engine immune from Google Bombing. It could be said to reward authors for well written html, and good punctuation. It can find relevant pages that don’t include the query terms on those pages, even though immune to Google Bombing. She also finds a way to perform personalization with the search engine, and detect and eliminate duplicates.

The search engine that she has conceived of can also be set to serve a mix of relevant pages from different topics in search results to searchers. For example, a search for “Blues” could easily be set to display pages on the first page of search results that lead to:

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Speaking at SES NY on Search Algorithms and Patents

I will be joining Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz and Jon Glick of on a panel focusing upon Search Algorithm Research at the New York Search Engine Strategies Conference on February 28, 2006.

If you are going to attend the conference, or are in the New York City area during that week, and want to meet up, or say hello, please let me know. I had a great time at last year’s SES in New York, and met lots of great folks. I’m looking forward to attending this year.

Just what was the first search engine?

Some recent research I’ve been doing had me looking at the Infoseek search engine, and its part in the history of search engines. I remembered an old book I have on search engines which has a couple of chapters on Infoseek, and started to reread it.

The book is the Web Guide to Search Engines, from February of 1998. It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book about search engines which hasn’t mentioned Google. This one focuses upon the search engines on the web at that time, and on adding a search feature to your site.

I didn’t get much past the first section of the first chapter of the book, titled Bow Down and Give Thanks to Archie, before I hopped on the web and started looking at Archie’s role on the net. As it notes there:

The grandfather of all search engines was Archie, created in 1990 by Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal.

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