How Yahoo May Use Toolbar Data to Refine Search Results

Since I wrote about the Google toolbar with my last post, it didn’t seem like a bad idea to write about the Yahoo Toolbar.

I hadn’t really planned on doing so, but a new Yahoo patent application showed up that talked about how a user’s browsing history, collected through the toolbar or a browser plugin, might be used to suggest destination URLs and queries to searchers. Even searchers who don’t use the toolbar.

A search engine usually relies primarily upon the queries someone enters to help that person find useful information. It’s possible that other information might be shown to searchers based upon information collected about trends from other people’s similar searches and pages browsed. That information could be collected through the toolbar.

The patent application is:

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Google Toolbar 5: Sync Your Settings and Share Your Browsing History

If you sit at more than one computer on a regular basis, and you use some of Google’s toolbar features, you may like a new offering from Google in the newest version of their toolbar.

If you share a computer with one or more people, you may also appreciate having a toolbar that is configured to your preferences rather than one that is shared by multiple users.

This new feature in Google toolbar 5 is synchronization, which allows you to share settings on your Google Toolbar between more than one computer, or personalize the toolbar to your tastes when sharing a computer with someone else.

The new toolbar was announced at the Official Google Blog in Google Toolbar: Take your tools with you.

This version of the toolbar is only presently available for Internet Explorer, and offers a number of other new features, such as the ability to add Google Gadget buttons to your brower, the addition of Google Notebook with an integration of Google bookmarks to the Notebook, and an improved Autofill feature.

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Google Patent on Anchor Text and Different Crawling Rates

How does a search engine use information from anchor text in links pointed to pages?

Why and how do some pages get crawled more frequently than others?

How might links that use permanent and temporary redirects be treated differently by a search engine?

A newly granted patent from Google, originally filed in 2003, explores these topics, and provides some interesting answers, and even some surprising ones.

Of course, this is a patent, and may not necessarily describe the actual processes in use by Google. It is possible that they are being used, or were at one point in time, but there has been plenty of time since the patent was filed for changes to be made to the processes described.

It has long been observed and understood that different pages on the web get indexed at different rates, and that anchor text in hyperlinks pointing to pages can influence what a page may rank for in search results.

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Yahoo on Visualizing Community Use of Social Media Sites

Run a social network, or participate in one?

You might find a couple of Yahoo patent applications interesting – they discuss some of the challenges in understanding how communities interact with social media sites over time, and how the interests of users of those sites evolve over time.

If you run a social media application you probably want to explore how the community focus of a site evolves over time. This means being able to browse through users, photos, tags, or the more complex structures of your site, such as groups, themes and clusters.

We’re told that past techniques used to visualize this kind of information have been functional but inadequate.

One example given is Ben Shneiderman’s Treemaps, described in Treemaps for space-constrained visualization of hierarchies. That paper includes a number of examples, and was last updated in April, 2006. A newer article on Treemaps from Ben Shneiderman is worth a look, too – Discovering Business Intelligence Using Treemap Visualizations.

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Google Health: Advertising to Physicians and Privacy Concerns?

I came across a new patent application from Google this morning which appears to discuss how Google Health, an unlaunched service from Google, might be financed.

The patent filing is: Method and apparatus for serving advertisements in an electronic medical record system

The document lists Eric Sachs as inventor, who started the project in 2006. Here’s the abstract:

One embodiment of the present invention provides a system that serves advertisements within an electronic medical record (EMR) system.

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Comparing Personalized Search Tools

Joel Tachau. who is a Senior Information Architect for Avenue A | Razorfish, wrote a long and very detailed paper for his Master of Science degree at the University of Oregon, on personalized search, which was published in June of this year:

Analysis of Three Personalized Search Tools in Relation to Information Search: iGoogle, LeapTag, and Yahoo! (pdf)

It includes a good number of quotes from, and references to search marketers and search marketing literature (blogs, articles, papers) that discuss some of the impacts that personalization might have upon internet marketing and search engine optimization.

Here’s the abstract:

Personalized search is becoming mainstream with the rollout of iGoogle®. While only beginning to impact consumers, these search tools require search experts to retool and rethink how they optimize websites.

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Google on the Crawling of Web Sites

When I talk with someone about how a search engine works, I find it convenient to break the process down into three parts, because there are three primary functions that a search engine performs.

These three parts are Crawling, Indexing, and Serving Results. I like using this three part breakdown because I find that it makes it easier to explain how each of those parts work by themselves, and together with the other parts.

A patent granted to Google today, and originally filed in 2000, explores the first of those parts – the crawling of web pages.

This is an interesting area, because having some knowledge of it might help to explain why some pages on the Web get indexed, and why some other pages might not. There are a couple of links that I like to point people towards when I talk about Google and crawling web pages.

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Pubcon and Missing Casinos

I am in Las Vegas this week, speaking at, and attending the Webmaster World Pubcon Conference.

I will be speaking at two different sessions, both on the first day of the conference.

The early session is going to be a round robin presentation on SEO 101, with Moderator Jake Baillie, and speakers Bruce Clay, Ash Nallawalla, and Jill Whalen, joining me.

After lunch that Tuesday, I will be joining Gordon Hotchkiss and Greg Boser as speakers, and moderator Jake Baillie, in a presentation on Universal and Personal Search – This Changes Everything.

I will be around the whole week, and look forward to meeting up with old friends and making new friends while at the conference. If you see me around the conference, please stop and say hello.

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