Recently Robert Scoble presented a few videos on the topic of Why Mahalo, TechMeme, and Facebook are going to kick Google’s butt in four years. It was a controversial topic, and generated some signficant and emotional responses, such as the following two posts from Rand Fiskin and Danny Sullivan.
- I Used to Respect Robert Scoble’s Opinion…
- The Promise & Reality Of Mixing The Social Graph With Search Engines
Last week, Loren Baker asked me about patent applications which showed how Google and Yahoo might be using information from user annotations and social bookmarking and network sites to influence the rankings of search results. I sent back a list of ten patent applications from Google and Yahoo which Loren included in his excellent post on the topic – Social Media’s Direct Influence on Search Engine Ranking.
I did watch the Robert Scoble’s videos, but didn’t take any notes while doing so. I did see this snippet from Robert in Rand’s post after coming across a patent application from Google published last week on how user references in Orkut could be used to influence the rankings of search results for articles and web pages:
Google does not understand social behaviors… They have not demonstrated any proficiency at doing so. They even own Orkut and they are not using it in their search. Why is that? Because they can’t.
…Robert Scoble on Social Graph Based Search
The patent application was published after Robert uttered this statement, but it does clearly describe how references from members of a social network site such as Orkut could be used to influence the rankings of search results.
Methods and systems for endorsing search results
Invented by Misha Dynin
United States Patent Application 20070203887
Published August 30, 2007
Filed: June 30, 2004
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 article identifiers through endorsements of articles. Search endorsements can be used to personalize the search engine’s ranking of articles by offering a way for users to re-rank the article identifiers for themselves and for those who trust them.
The patent application describes a fairly detailed process where people could create personalized lists of articles and references on the Web and share them with their friends and acquaintances with the social network. It does cite Orkut as an example social network, but it’s possible that profiles and relationships in other social networks could also be used with the processes described.
Those referrals could then influence search results that people see in search results, and may allow searchers from those social networks to see the endorsements from other members of the social network, and rerank search results based upon those endorsements.
The search engines aren’t ignoring social networks by any means.