How Yahoo Might Automate SEO

It’s a little unusual to see a document from a search engine discussing search engine optimization.

It’s even more rare to see one providing details on how that search engine might actually optimize web sites for search engines.

A patent application from Yahoo, published at the start of January, provides details on how the search engine could automatically optimize web pages for search engines.

The process described involves looking at queries performed by searchers in search engine log files and possibly also looking at the browsing activity of those searchers.

It would also involve looking at information that they have compiled about how words might be semantically related to each other as concepts or topics (or to use their word, as units), and the popularity or trendiness of those terms or units.

Parts of web pages, such as titles and headings and URLs for pages and alt text for images might then be automatically rewritten on web pages, in an attempt to optimize those for more popular terms.

In the background section of the patent filing, a definition of search engine optimization is given:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to actions by a web site to improve its presence and positioning for relevant search queries.

The most popular search engines, including Yahoo!.RTM., Google.RTM., and Microsoft Live.RTM., may utilize similar techniques for determining the relevancy of search results and SEO may include a site’s attempts to more accurately appear in those search results.

SEO may be performed by improving the labels, tags and information on a site. Accordingly, it is desirable to improve the SEO of pages, so that those pages appear in search results for relevant search queries related to the content of the pages.

The patent application is:

Automated System to Improve Search Engine Optimization on Web Pages
Invented by Chyr-Chong (Joseph) Ting and Adam Hyder
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20090006311
Published January 1, 2009
Filed June 28, 2007

Abstract

A system and method for automated search engine optimization (SEO) are disclosed. The automated SEO may analyze search query logs, or a search log database to determine popular concepts/units which may be automatically utilized to optimize a site or page for search engine results.

The site or page is edited based on the automated SEO. In particular, the search log database may provide a unit frequency list reflecting the popularity of various units. The more popular units that are related to the content of the page may be used in the automated SEO of the page.

The unit frequency list may be compared with the existing units of a page, so that the more popular concepts within the page may be emphasized.

The patent filing does provide a number of examples on how their automated SEO system might update page titles, URLs for pages, meta descriptions and meta keywords, alt attributes for images, and headings on pages. For example, here’s the discussion on page titles:

The title of the page is an example of a feature that may be used for SEO. Each page includes a title describing the contents of the page. The title may be the title of the page that is viewable in the title bar of a web browser. The search engine may use the title to determine the content of a page.

In one example, if you have a blog related to Chicago sports teams, then a title may be generic, such as “Chicago sports blog.” However, after comparing the unit frequency list and the existing page unit list, it may be determined that Chicago Cubs.RTM. are currently very popular.

Accordingly, the search engine optimizer may select that unit and edit the title to be “Chicago Cubs blog.” The popularity of the unit Chicago Cubs.RTM. may provide better search results than when the title was “Chicago sports blog.”

I have some concerns about this approach.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the title for the blog they describe might be changed to “Chicago Bulls Blog” during the basketball season, or “Chicago Bears Blog” on weekends during the football season. It’s likely that those would be more popular terms during those time periods.

Would sites that change focus based upon the popularity of search terms sacrifice their identities to chase after more popular search terms on a regular basis?

There are other aspects of SEO that the patent filing doesn’t address, such as purposeful decisions to target less popular terms than more popular related terms.

This could happen when the people behind a site recognize that they can’t compete with the sites presently ranking for those more popular terms, but also see that those sites aren’t being optimized for somewhat less popular query terms, and they believe that they audience their site is for will search for the less popular terms.

Or when a site owner recognizes that a business or informational niche exists that isn’t being adequately addressed on the Web.

Conclusion

SEO isn’t about trying to get the most traffic to a site for the most popular terms possible.

Instead, it’s about understanding the objectives of a site, and knowing enough about an audience that might be interested in what that site offers to help those searchers and those sites find each other. That can involve finding the right words to use on the pages of a site instead of the most popular words.

SEO also involves knowing enough about how search engines work so that it’s easier for a search engine to index the pages of a site, and understand what those pages are about when it indexes them.

The patent application from Yahoo does detail some of the basics of optimizing an individual page for search engines, but ignores many of the technical issues involved in making sites and pages search engine friendly.

The Yahoo patent filing also avoids discussing the issue of how difficult it can sometimes be to optimize pages for very popular and competitive terms.

A site owner might want to target less popular search terms on pages that are a few directory levels deep in their site and have those pages rank well for searches that their audience will conduct rather than target more popular terms with those pages, and rank very poorly.

Another issue that should be raised is the potential for conflict of interest in a search engine also performing search engine optimization.

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65 thoughts on “How Yahoo Might Automate SEO”

  1. Still, very interesting from a large-scale SEO perspective. For large content publishers it may be appropriate to automate the SEO on big sections of their sites, and then being able to point human SEO resources at their most important site content.

    I reckon a lot of enterprise class folk would jump at a system like this, and given that the space has some players whose offerings might not be described as advanced, this is all the more interesting.

    Rgds
    Richard

  2. I rarely have patience to read things said in patents.I had once tried to read the backrub algorithm in the stanford website ,it was good but too long .Hope these guys make it sharp and crisp.But i bet they wouldnt :)

  3. one thing i really don’t understand is why is it so difficlt to get traffic from yahoo?

    I have a blog which is doing good on google.. but no traffic from yahoo

    is there any way?

  4. Hi Richard,

    You raise some really good points. Very large sites do present some interesting challenges of their own, and I was tempted to discuss some of those in the original post.

    I agree that it is helpful to have some kind of guidance, or a tool that can be helpful in automating some of the processes involved in optimizing the pages of sites that contain many thousands or hundreds of thousand of pages (or even millions of pages). One of the chief difficulties can be getting all of those pages crawled. Another is creating a site and navigational structure that allows for people to anticipate and discover how large a scope such a site actually covers.

    One concern I have about the use of the process described in the patent application for very large sites is that in constantly changing keywords on pages to focus upon the most popular of terms without anticipating how competitive those terms might be, many of the pages of such a site might be stuck competing against much more highly ranked pages. One of the strengths of a very large site is that it has the potential to have pages that can rank well for many potential long tail terms. While those may be less popular, they can be more focused and appropriate.

    The patent application also discusses changing the URLs of pages to include new keywords, and redirecting visitors to new URLs based upon those changes, which could create a challenge when it comes to a search engine indexing the pages of a site, as well as analyzing the effectiveness of pages of the site. It also may cause problems when people might attempt to refind pages they have visited before, when those pages may be constantly changing in content and location.

    I can see the value of the information provided by aspects of the patent that uncover popular keywords and popularity trends in concepts, and think that those could be helpful in creating new pages, and suggesting changes to older pages, but I’d be concerned about completely automating that process. There’s the potential for the process described in this patent application to come closer to an automated keyword stuffing process than an intelligently guided optimization process.

  5. Interesting… If this is a service that Yahoo will provide, and it is using their search algorithm information and data set, will it have the same relevance to Google? I know that the algorithms are not that different, but I would think that over time Google might detect the code Yahoo uses for this process and decriment the value of the pages where this tool is used.

    If Yahoo leveraged this tool for better results in Yahoo Paid Inclusion, that would seem appropriate – it’s just this approach seems like one search engine is gaming a site in a way that may affect the way it appears in another. That’s just wrong.

    It would also seem that automating optimization to more commonly searched terms is counter-intuitive. What is the point of a bunch of traffic that is not relevant to the content presented on the site? I would rather 10 people who really wanted to be there than 1000 that bail after getting frustrated that they aren’t finding what they thought that they would get.

  6. Hi arshad,

    Patents and whitepapers can make for difficult reading, but I think it’s worth trying to go through them. Sometimes what you find in them can be surprising.

    Hi Priyankeshu,

    First, you should probably count yourself fortunate that you get some decent traffic from Google. One thing that you could do is to take a look at the pages that do show up ranking highly in Yahoo for the terms that you are interested in, and see what they appear to be doing that may help them rank well there. That might help give you some ideas.

    Hi Meg,

    All very good points. I’m not sure that the process described in this patent filing from Yahoo is thought through well enough, though it may just be a summary that doesn’t include more advanced approaches that they may also include. If they launch it, I guess we will see.

  7. You can witness variants of this techniques at large SEO’d adsense-driven sites such as Scribd, which adds referring keywords to their pages as they happen in hopes of improving their rankings for those terms.

    My first reaction to the Yahoo technique is that they are preparing themselves for the day they either sell or totally lose their search business. After that they are going to need to suck as much traffic as possible out of Google, and perhaps even MSN. ;)

  8. Hi Andrew,

    Something that I found interesting about this was that the inventors listed on the patent application were involved in the development of Yahoo’s Advertising Management Platform. Adam Hyder was the Sr. Director of Engineering – Advertising Management Platform before he left Yahoo, and Joseph Ting was one of the architects on some part of that platform.

    The data mining approach that the patent application uses may be better suited for paid advertising than for search engine optimization, like you note happening at Scribd.

    I’m not sure that this patent application was intended to develop a product in anticipation of the loss of a search element from what Yahoo! offers, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea for them to explore different possibilities. :)

  9. If Yahoo is going to try to “help” site owners with SEO in the same way it has tried to “help” search marketers by hijacking their campaigns, then most site owners will be much better off without such assistance.

    Just as, for example, keyword tools always return some irrelevant results and Google’s “broad match” option for AdWords will show ads for some completely inappropriate phrases, so a tool like this is likely to produce some odd results. SEO is part science (which can be automated) and part art (which can’t). SEOs already can and do use a variety of tools to automate portions of their work, which makes them more productive. But at the end of the day, there are still (and always will be) parts of the process that require human thought, creativity and judgment.

  10. The big misconception of the USPTO is that they just allow any patent application to process to a patent.

    You probably already made the assumption that they will get the patent just because they applied for one.

    NOT!

    Our company spent 6 years before patent #6,968,513 (On-line localized business referral system and revenue generation system) was granted in 2005 after $100,000+ in legal expenses and four office actions from the patent office as to why the claims were not allowed.

    Then you have to enforce the patent, if it is granted. Oh, what a cost that CAN be, unless you partner with a good patent management company on contingency for the life of the patent.

    Did I mention we filed a law suit against Landmark Media Enterprise (FORRENT.com) for infringement in December? Yep, a local search solution!

    Why doesn’t anyone know about a lawsuit that can affect the way many of these property operated in a multi-billion dollar industry? (didn’t the newspapers downplay the Internet in the mid to later 90″s)

    Yahoo applying for a patent, you real think that is news?

    How does that affect the industry other then it proove the arrogance of many companies that don’t even bother to check if the patent is available before applying.

    Check your sources

  11. Hi Tom,

    I agree with you completely. Human judgment and creativity is a necessary part of creating pages for other people, and a fully automated approach is very likely to result in pages that are purely inappropriate.

  12. Hi Austin,

    I’m not sure why you’ve come here to comment in an somewhat unfriendly manner, or demanded that I “check my sources.”

    Yahoo applying for a patent ISN’T NEWS (it’s something they do on a regular basis), but looking at the patent applications that they file can provide a look into some of the types of intellectual property the organization is exploring, what assumptions they might make about the web, and some of the things that they might consider important enough to protect as intellectual property.

    These are things that we can learn from these documents REGARDLESS of whether the patent filings are ever granted, or if the processes described within them are never developed.

    My sources are the US patent office (and other patent offices across the globe), whitepapers from the search engines when available, searches on individuals who are the named authors of the patent filings and papers, and so on.

    No misconceptions here. I’ve been reading and writing about patent applications here for over three years, and I’ve NEVER EVER made the assumption that just because a patent has been filed, that the patent office will automatically grant it.

    I appreciate your sharing with us the cost in time and expense that your company went through to have a patent granted, and the difficulties that one can face once a patent is granted (and the potential impact that a patent infringement case might have upon many industries). I’m sorry that you faced such hardship.

  13. There’s parts that can be self tuning. Titles and Descriptions, and even first headers and first paragraphs (important for that user experience and helping them to stay on the site). I’ve been toying with building a website that used genetic algorithms to self-optimize. Set a goal – say, reduced bounce rate, or increased time on site, or increased page views, give the site snippets to combine and mutate (not allowing the luxury of self-inserting text, but only recombining text already offered), and measuring the performance against search queries. When the performance is radically different for different optimisations, it would “split the page” into two paths, each optimising for a different set of keywords. I also have an idea for how the software can beg for help to generate more snippets – based partly on the longer search queries and (ahem) looking at other sites (mumble) to see what works for them.

    That group of techniques overcomes the problems of optimizing for content that isn’t present. Human moderation plus machine persistence.

    I proposed the “self optimising web site” as a Masters research project to Cranfield University back in, ohhh, 2005. I just don’t have enough time to explore all that I want to ;) It actually went a lot further as an idea, including identifying page elements and alternatives, including layout elements – so it could probe which “buy now” graphic worked – or none – and where on the page it worked best. As with the text optimisation, this relies on human expertise to create modules that work interchangeably, so you don’t get a horrid mish-mash.

    Training the AI for aesthetics is probably too big a jump ;)

  14. Hi William,

    It is obvious you are baiting me. So I will stay with the facts.

    There is no need for you to take this personal. My apolagies if I had offened you.

    Patents are a big issue and I support anyone who supports the little guy. Big business has been lobbying govenment for years to undermind the little guy at the patent office. You of all people should know this with your 3 year background in patent research.

    I get much of my info from Mediapost. Comments are normally encouraged.

  15. Hi Jeremy,

    Thank you. The kind of review and testing that you describe sounds pretty interesting, where testing the effectiveness of a page based upon defined user interactions with the page is the focus of your analysis. Involving human moderation and decisions based upon actual analysis of the effectiveness of a page are the kinds of things that could make a positive difference in how well a system might work.

  16. Thank you Austin.

    I agree with you – the patent process in the United States has some serious issues that have the potential to stifle innovation, and can make it very difficult for individuals and small business to apply for and receive patents, and protect their rights under those patents. It is a very serious problem that needs addressing.

    My post was about a specific patent application on a specific subject, and not the much broader and wider need for changes to the patent system.

  17. Hi steeve,

    I wonder about the approach that Yahoo describes in this patent filing as well. It feels incomplete. It’s possible that it only addresses one aspect of providing search engine optimization for a site, which might be used with other processes that might measure how effective those changes might be.

  18. From what I read (and I didnt read much) this is old technology used by spammers creating a feedback loop into pages.

    Doorway pages generated and self modifying from referrals.

    Some SEO Agengies have tried it (many years ago) only to fall foul of people like me spoofing referrals

    Another bunch of bullshit masquerading as this ‘SEO’ thing by idiots without a clue

  19. Wow, great article. This is an interesting topic and agree that automated SEO is great in theory, but may not work for everybody. My blog is a good example that this type of technology would just not work. Right now, I am targeting less popular keywords, but they still bring a decent amount of traffic just because I am at the top of the search results. Also, it would not be beneficial to dynamically change the topic of my blog just to be on the latest trend.

  20. Hi Felix,

    Thanks. You raise some pretty valid concerns, many of which crossed my mind the second I read the title to the patent application – Automated System to Improve Search Engine Optimization on Web Pages

    I’m not sure that Yahoo intended the creation of doorway pages, but there are aspects of the process described in the patent filing that might make someone wonder.

    I agree with you on not liking the creation and use of auto-generated pages based upon referral text.

    Google defines doorway pages as:

    Doorway pages are typically large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase.

    They further add that:

    In many cases, doorway pages are written to rank for a particular phrase and then funnel users to a single destination.

    The Yahoo! Search Content Quality Guidelines page tells us that Yahoo doesn’t want included in its index (amongst many others):

    • Pages dedicated to directing the user to another page (doorway pages)
    • Pages in great quantity, automatically generated or of little value (cookie-cutter pages)
    • Pages using methods to artificially inflate search engine ranking
    • methods to artificially inflate search engine rankings or pages with excessive or irrelevant keywords

    The patent filing doesn’t appear to be aimed at the creation of a large number of poor quality pages, but rather at finding more popular keyword phrases for existing pages on a site that may not be optimized very well.

    It does attempt to use popular keyword phrases that are related to content already located upon those pages using Yahoo’s Unit/Concept technology, rather than modifying the content of pages based upon the referrals used to find the site. It does use Yahoo search log files to find those related popular terms and trends in the use of terms.

    There’s no mention of using the optimized pages as “doorways,” leading to another page or destination. The optimized pages are the destination.

    Is the process in this patent filing an attempt “to artificially inflate search engine rankings.” Will the use of unit/concept technology from Yahoo to find keywords based upon related concepts mean that the pages are optimized for “relevant” keywords? I’m not sure.

    Is this method of automating SEO actually creating webspam? Is it SEO? Is it SEO that ignores things such as the appropriateness of the keywords chosen for the visitors to the pages of the site, and the competitiveness of those keywords?

    I’m not sure how to answer those questions based solely upon the patent filing’s claims and description. If the process described is implemented, we might be able to answer those more easily, based upon how it is actually implemented.

  21. Hi Kevin,

    I agree with you. There are a good number of aspects of SEO that this just doesn’t include or address.

    Hi pays to live green,

    Thanks. I don’t think that this would work well for my blog for pretty much the same reasons. I think I would have concerns about using an automated method like this for most sites. Keywords should be chosen more for their appropriateness for the page that they are being used to optimize (and the audience of that page) than just their relevance or popularity.

  22. Bill automated SEO is a scary thought and one I mentioned to the wife over the weekend, so imagine my surprise/shock to see your blog post here!

    I feel Google could look towards automated SEO in the future. If they did there would be massive repercussions, not just in the way websites are ranked, but also in the web marketing industry itself in the number of SEO providers going out of business, the quick to think ones may find another way to drive business but the overall optimiser herd might scatter to the wind.

    A client of mine recently got approached by a major search engine to run a PPC campaign on his behalf (which he took up, though since has come back to me to manage it) and I heard about a local PPC management company last week struggling since a certain engine had made its PPC program easier to set up and operate. This was the reason it prompted me to suggest to the wife over the weekend “I wouldn’t be surprised if Google start offering SEO or even offer an automated SEO program for free to its users.”

    Its certainly serious food for thought…

  23. Hi Darren,

    Good to see you. Interesting coincidence that you were discussing this topic over the weekend.

    I’m not overly concerned about search engines taking over SEO anytime soon, and I’ll explain why, but I first want to add that it might not be a bad thing if the “optimizer herd” is shaken up a little, and its members break away from that herd, and start thinking and experimenting for themselves, start paying more attention to primary sources from the search engines like patent applications and whitepapers, strive to learn more about the science and math behind search engines, and bring innovation to their SEO/marketing efforts.

    The following list of SEO practices is from a paper (What is a tall poppy among web pages?)that’s more than a decade old, describing aspects of pages that might be relevant to a search engine:

    • Number of times the keyword occurs in the URL.
    • Number of times the keyword occurs in the document title.
    • Number of words in the document title
    • Number of times the keyword occurs in meta fields – typically keyword list and description.
    • Number of times keyword occurs in the first heading tag .
    • Number of words in the first heading tag.
    • Total number of times the keyword occurs in the document including title, meta, etc.
    • Length of the document.

    It’s almost 11 years later, and I still see many of these touted as the “basics” of SEO from people writing about SEO on forums and in blogs, and speaking about the topic in conferences.

    This patent application from Yahoo might add alt attribute text to the mix, but doesn’t go much beyond that, except for its method of datamining keywords from search engine logs and from a concept/units dictionary that it has created.

    Universal, blended, and personalized search have been around long enough now that information about how those work should be considered amongst the “basics” of SEO.

    Microsoft’s Vision-based Page Segmentation Algorithm was first written about in 2003, and the idea that search engines may not be indexing full pages, but rather blocks of pages should be commonly understood by most people practicing SEO.

    Fact extraction of the type that produces definitions from the search engines, or question and answer results, or fuels services like Google Sets are also things that should be considered basic SEO, and yet this Yahoo patent still provides an automated SEO process based upon practices from years before Yahoo even had a search engine.

    I was surprised that the Yahoo patent application didn’t even suggest changing anchor text pointing to pages being optimized, which is something SEOs have been doing for years, and was described in the very first papers on PageRank and Google from Google’s founders more than a decade ago.

    If Yahoo’s idea of SEO relies upon an understanding of SEO from 1998 (which is the level of understanding of SEO they demonstrate in the patent application), then people offering SEO services based at least on a modern understanding of SEO and marketing best practices may have little to worry about.

    One of the major problems with a search engine providing PPC services for a business or organization or individual to reach a specific audience is that it’s very likely that a search engine will never know that audience and the language that audience uses as well as the business or organization, or someone working very closely with them. The same is likely as true with search engine optimization.

    It’s more important to use the most appropriate terms to communicate with that audience, instead of just those that the search engines might consider relevant or related or the most popular terms.

  24. sounds to me as if Yahoo is giving up; they know they can never catch up with google, so they go into a new direction: spamming google :D

    anyway, all of this automated stuff has failed in the past and will fail in the future.

    google doesn’t determine the rankings based on maths, big just uses maths to calculate human appreciation, take the human touch away and the SERP’s would have any value left …

  25. That’s really interesting that Yahoo is going about working on this. I could see us SEO guys creating something like that but Yahoo… It’s just odd that a search engine would go about doing that. If it ever got off the ground and they started providing this services I could see it taking a lot of business away from us SEOs but on the up side it might also even bring business. As you may or may not know, we are in some what of a bubble – your average Internet user does not generally know how or even sometimes the fact that something can be done to increase the ranking for a website nor do they have any idea how search engines work and thus this would make our industry more main stream and possibly increase the demand just based on the fact that Yahoo would probably do some marketing and promotion for the service which would clear these things up somewhat.

  26. Wow, this is very good. You just kept me reading William. Great job!

    A very clear and detailed explanation SEO. I feel like i fully understand SEO now. Thanks William! :-)

  27. Hi Self-Publishing Review,

    You’re welcome. Actually, some element of automation is welcome, especially in tasks that can be somewhat repetitive. Completely automating SEO isn’t frightening because it has the potential to take away jobs. It’s frightening because the potential exists that something very wrong might happen without human guidance and judgment and creativity participating.

    I think back to one of the last days that I used Altavista in the late 90s, when searching for the term [Dalai Lama], an advertisement to the right of my search results offered to sell me the Dalai Lama at a discount. That moment tends to enter my head everytime I hear someone talking about automating SEO.

    Hi Michiel,

    Thanks. I don’t think Yahoo would give up, and change over to spamming Google. :)

    I do think that behind every algorithm are human judgments and assumptions and decisions. It probably wouldn’t be a good decision to go forward with a fully automated approach like the one described in the patent filing.

    Hi SEOsean,

    That’s an interesting point. It is possible that all things considered, if Yahoo offered SEO services, it might increase the demand for SEO. So the question would come down to what could you do to differentiate yourself from Yahoo, and offer more value to potential clients. I think that’s what would make a difference between SEO providers possibly losing business to a Yahoo that offered SEO services.

    Hi Darren,

    Thank you. There’s a lot to SEO. I’m afraid that we might have only brushed the surface here so far. Even automating some of SEO can be difficult because in the end, it comes down to people deciding whether or not they like the sites that they’ve arrived at after a search engine may deliver them to its pages.

  28. Hey Bill, thanks for the awesome finding!

    I agree with you “SEO isn’t about trying to get the most traffic to a site for the most popular terms possible.” except for one situation “Search Engine PPC Spam” !

    So I would assume that these methods would be perfect to make a lot of scraper sites, parked/domain landing pages and other stuff rank well…

    In fact this could even be a possible revenue stream for the blasted Yahoo – or one of it’s subsidaries :-)

    Cheers,christoph

  29. I don’t think you would have to worry about the bulls/bears change, i’m sure the sample data would be large enough to prevent flapping but small enough to reflect trends (maybe 30 to 60 days if I had to guess).

    More important, would everyone eventually move toward a singularity if all keywords were modified to reflect the most popular neighbor? Obviously that’s not realistic but a smaller subset of terms would be a foreseeable side effect.

  30. I’m not much of a fan of automation of many things. Then again I do prefer to develop in notepad (not even notepad+) rather than a WYSIWYG interface so I guess I’m a bit extreme on this.

    While automation may indeed speed things up I fear that it will make the occasional bugger-up. A few small errors amount to a very large problem. In addition to that if the search engines don’t always get it right with their SERPs, do you really trust them with your SEO ?

  31. I totally agree with you that SEO isn’t just about get more traffic to a site. I believe SEO is art, instead of an automated tool. The proposed approch may work in some cases, but it won’t work for all. Time will prove.

  32. Hi Christoph,

    You’re welcome. Don’t know what Yahoo will end up doing with this patent application, if anything at all. Hopefully it won’t lead to parked domain advertising and scraper site type pages. Guess we have to wait to see what comes of it.

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks. The Chicago Sports Blog/Chicago Cubs Blog example was provided in the patent application, and the way it was presented made the Bears/Bulls scenerio seem like a possibility rather than an unlikely happening. But you’re right that it might make sense to look at larger windows of changes in popularity before making a change like that. Yes, if many sites used this approach, then it could move them all to focus upon the same popular terms rather than being unique. That wouldn’t be a good result…

    Hi Robert ,

    I’m a pretty big fan of notepad as an HTML editing tool myself. I don’t think I would want Yahoo handling my SEO for me – there’s a very large possibility of conflicts of interest going on there as well.

    Hi People Finder ,

    If anything, I was happy to see this patent filing because it gave us some insights into how Yahoo might feel about SEO – fairly positive the way I see it.

    Hi Fred,

    Thanks. There’s an aspect of art and of science to SEO. Tools can be helpful, but I don’t think that automating SEO completely is that good of an idea. :)

  33. We are all using automatics tools to optimize our site.
    Eventually, search engine is a automated machine and automated applications can crack it. The questions is if we are losing quality or integrity while we use automatic SEO applications.

    We need to ask ourselves? are we spamming? are we encourge poor content? and finally we need to ask ourselves, are we cheating the search engine or just optimizing our site structure/content?

    Think about that.

  34. Hi Romeo,

    Good questions. I don’t believe that the use of automated tools without human judgment and guidance is that good of an idea. Doing so ignores the most important element of a web site – the reader.

  35. Hi Web Design,

    One of the difficulties that a search engine faces is that it isn’t privy to the conversations and interactions by others that it can’t see. There are many authors who syndicate content, and share (or sell) articles that they’ve published on the web previously. There’s other content that might have been used or rewritten with permission, or that might be in the public domain. Wire services for news spread the same stories out to many sites. On the other hand, there are people who infringe on copyright, who scrape and modify and republish content without permission.

    It’s terrible that a site that takes copyrighted content without permission might outrank the pages of the original author, but it does sometimes happen. Site authors can act to protect their rights through legal actions in court, and through laws like the DMCA, but it can be sometimes difficult to monitor the Web to find out if someone has scraped or stolen content. Google may be working on a way to help people find some of that information, as a patent filing from them on a duplicate content search suggests.

  36. Yes I Also Prefer the Manual optimization. I have one question the People are copy the article content and modify the content and post the content to his blog. It’s spam tactics but why His site SERPs are increased?

  37. I think it is interesting that Yahoo is working on an automated seo program. The search engines all have different algorithms, will this program meet all of those sets of algorithms for each search engine? Will it constantly update for each new algorithm? Also it is fine and dandy to automate the seo for your website tags and labels and keywords, but what about links? Consumers will view this product as the be all for seo, when it is far from it. There are other programs on the market today that are very similar, maybe manual in nature, but they do the same thing. Very interesting though, will keep an eye out on this product. thanks for the info.

  38. Hi Web Design,

    Thanks. Appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Search Engines do all use different algorithms and approaches, but the ultimate goal of each is to try to find the most relevant and appropriate results for search search, attempting to match the intent behind that search.

    The optimization processes described in the patent are pretty rudimentary, and the possibility that it updates for each search engine is probably unlikely, even for the changes that might be made with Yahoo’s search algorithms. I’m concerned about how consumers might view this as well.

    I expect that we might see some outcries from many different sources if Yahoo does launch this service.

  39. Maybe its a new service they are using to enter the SEO market, and cater to people looking for cheap services in a bad economy.

    Who better than to SEO your site but an SE?

    We sometimes use dynamic strategies to auto-optimize large sites that have thousands of pages so here it makes sense, But since everyone is after Google rankings and Yahoo cannot compete, what would this say about their automated SEO? — Rank well in Yahoo and be banned in Google?

    hmmmm…

  40. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for presenting a different point of view.

    We don’t know if Yahoo will launch an SEO service, even if they have published a patent on an automated system. We don’t know if this has progressed past the patent stage,.

    I’m wondering how many people would stop using Yahoo as a search engine if sites that Yahoo provided SEO services for all started showing up at the top of search results in Yahoo.

    Large sites do pose challenges when it comes to SEO, and the use of intelligent tools to help manage those sites can be very helpful. But, there are some issues with the system that is described in the patent filing that may limit its effectiveness.

  41. Yahoo, should first improve the quality of results and the algorithm and then they can start a SEO service.

  42. Hi JohnBi,

    I think all of the major commercial search engines are constantly looking for ways to try to improve the quality of results that they show to searchers. Regardless of that, I’m not excited over the prospect of any of them also running an SEO service. :)

  43. William,

    well, few months later now … hearing nothing but bad news from Yahoo … they must be getting desperate by now, 10 years ago they were on top and now they just keep sinki9ng deeper and deeper … they really need to kick out the dreamers over there and put in some real marketeers, but of course to Yahoo those marketeers are all greedy bastards.

    very strange how they think that firing people is better then hiring some of those greedy bastards to save those jobs.

    but well, whatever, I don’t really care about Yahoo, in fact I’m surprised to survived this long. When they simply turned off overture instead of doing something with it, for me it was clear that Yahoo would go down, down, down. and that’s exactly what’s has been happening ever since.

    so, to Yahoo my advice; stop smoking so much pot and accept the fact that a business needs to be commercial in order to survive … in other words; it’s about time they grow up there.

  44. It is possible, as with constant developments and events which saw Yahoo’s downfall they’ll try to hit with whatever they have to stay in shape.

    As bloggers, all we have to do is conform to whatever their implications might be in the future… cheers and more power!

  45. Hi Michiel,

    I really like the idea of having competition amongst search engines. I think it’s best for everyone if there are a number of places where we can turn to when we want to find information. And I think that strong competition would push search engines to provide better results to searchers. It would be wonderful if Yahoo could prove to be resilient, and start challenging Google for searchers’ attention more. I’d like to see it.

  46. Hi All about the iron wagon,

    It would be great to see Yahoo come back strong, but I don’t think that the approach described in this patent filing would be part of that. It will be interesting to see what they try to do to become and remain competitive.

  47. This just seems wrong to me. They should be more worried about first improving their search results and regain some ground in the search market. How will this improve their results? Though in theory it would be nice to have a major search engine overlook common SEO issues that most websites face, but to me, a site that is search engine friendly, is really just a quality built website, built with web standards and usability in mind. Most people who build spam websites aren’t really as concerned about building a “quality” website. Seems as if this “automated SEO” would just make it easier for spammers to rank higher.

  48. Hi Houston SEO.

    The processes described in this patent filing might help improve Yahoo search results, by acting to help sites that aren’t very search engine friendly to become more so. But I still have a problem with the idea of automating the majority of SEO. I don’t think that it would have the impact of making it easier for spammers to rank higher in search results.

  49. Hi Houston SEO,

    You’re welcome. You have me thinking of a new post – which patents would I recommend that someone interested in SEO read if I could recommend only ten. :)

  50. Thanks for responding William. I think I will give this patent a read. I know some of the top SEO’s in the industry swear by reading the patents filed by the search engines and it’s always been on my to-do list to read more of them. Thanks for your interpretation.

  51. Hi William,

    what’s your opinion about the cooperation between yahoo and microsoft? Maybe microsoft (bing) improves the search results with the technology experience from yahoo.

  52. Hi Andi,

    That’s a very good question. Yahoo has some very knowledgeable people working for them in search as does Microsoft, and it’s possible that together they might do some very interesting things. While I would like to see the best from both forces joined together to make something extraordinary, it’s possible that we might not. Finger’s crossed that we do.

  53. Hello William,

    thank you for your answer. I also hope that we get some interesting results…

    Kind regards

  54. Hi Andi,

    I guess we wait and see. I wonder how many people who have worked on search for Yahoo might decide to go somewhere else instead of Microsoft. I’d image that many of them would be welcomed at places like Google or AOL or a tech startup.

  55. I know this is an old thread, but was this implemented and is it currently in use by yahoo?

  56. Hi Jason,

    With Yahoo taking on Microsoft as a provider of search data, it’s hard to say which types of things that they might work on in the future. They still control the presentation of their data in search results, even though they are using Bing’s search data, and they still are engaging in their own projects.

    It’s possible that there might be some kind of conflict of interest in Yahoo engaging in SEO, automated or not. I don’t know if we will ever see them develop the technology described in this patent filing.

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