Yahoo Games Search Engines

One of the objects of many ecommerce sites has been to find ways to keep people on their site, to explore what they have to offer. With a search engine, the approach has been to provide answers to questions, and help people find pages outside of the search engine. The better the service, the more likely that someone will return the next time they need to find something.

A recent Yahoo patent application shows a desire to keep visitors around longer:

The web pages provided by the search service providers via which a user can submit a query vary somewhat in layout, content, look-and-feel, etc. but generally include a text box for input of keywords for use in the query. Results of the search are provided in a results page with a list of links to results (i.e., pages found to have content matching the query) and possibly one or more advertisements.

This format results in a search process that is very structured and not particularly entertaining. So, once a user locates information relevant to his interest, the user typically leaves the search service provider’s web page quickly. Further, there is little or no incentive for the user to go back to the search service provider’s web page after the information desired has been located.

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Google OneBox and Measuring User Behavior

In addition to posting here, you may know that I also am also a correspondent for Search Engine Land, where I post about search related patents and research.

In a new post over there today, Google’s OneBox Patent Application, I explore a number of the details described in Determination of a desired repository, a patent application from earlier this month that appears to describe how OneBox results may be chosen to appear above (or sometimes below) organic results in a Google web search.

Some OneBox results, like those providing transportation (plane or train) information or definitions or weather reports probably don’t rely upon user behavior information the way that others might, such as news or images or products.

But the patent seems to point towards relying upon information collected in those narrower searches, about users and queries, to decide what kind of vertical search to display above organic searches. I list some of the user behavior information being looked at to make that determination over at Search Engine Land.

Google’s Product Recommendation Widget Patent

Google Product Recommendations Displayed (Super Hero Alter Ego Authors)

If Google were to get into the shopping comparison and recommendation business, how would they do it?

The answer might involve incorporating measures of user behavior to perform collaborative filtering based upon data collected from more than one web retailer, and could be done with the use of shopping recommendation widgets displayed on many web retailers’ pages.

A patent application from Google shows how they might do that.

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A Google Approach to Improving Location Information Accuracy

The Front Door to Google in Mountain View

It’s unlikely Google will unerringly determine that when you search for “Mountain View” and “Pizza” that you may be looking for pizza in Mountain View, California, rather than a pizzeria on Mountain View Road in El Paso. A new patent application from Google may provide some insight into how Google is attempting to make geographic-based search more accurate.

Figuring out user intent can be hard, and searchers are often hesitant to provide detailed location information to get an answer to a search involving locations. Yet they’ll usually expect an exact and unambiguous response.

As Mike Blumenthal has written about on Understanding Google Maps & Yahoo Local, there are some issues with the location information that Google provides for organizations, in his post Local Data Accuracy- a veritable beehive.

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Mobile Patents Roundup – 1-19-2007 – A Mobile Search Plugin Platform

Quite a few new granted patents and published patent applications this week in the world of mobile devices. I’ve pulled out a number of the odder ones, and the more interesting.

Amongst those are a search platform that can use plugins to search locally and on the web, a way to remotely control a personal computer from a mobile phone using a cursor, peer to peer advertising via phones, a method of creating collaborative music using phones, and some others that stood out.

Granted Patents

Making Music with Mobile Phones

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Optimizing Buildings for Driving Directions

In the future, having the only bright red storefront on your block may bring you free advertising in online driving directions. Those would be a more “human-centric” and visually oriented set of driving directions.

When you receive driving directions from today’s online mapping programs, they often read like this:

Stay on Main St. for 1.2 miles, and turn Right onto Center Street.

Wouldn’t it be better to get something more like:

Go down Main Street past the Centerville Bank and the Titan’s Toys Emporium, and make a right on Center Street at the intersection with a McDonalds on it. If you see a Burger King, you’ve gone too far.

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