How What you Tweet, Tag, or Blog May Determine What Ads You See

In my last post, I wrote about a patent application describing how Yahoo might come out with a widget that could be used with blogs, to recommend old posts on those blogs based upon your lifestreaming activities.

It appears that Yahoo may have even grander and more financially motivated intentions behind collecting information about how you blog, tweet, tag images, and leave other footprints on the Web about your life and interests.

Imagine Yahoo crawling the Web and grabbing information from APIs and feeds published by other sites that provide information about the movies you rent, the reviews that you publish, the pictures that you tag, and the sites that you bookmark. Along with your tweets, your status updates, and your other activities on the Web, this information could be used to build a profile of your actions online.

That profile might then be used to determine which banner ads, job postings, and other advertisements that you may be shown.

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A Yahoo Widget Using Social Network Activity to Recommend Blog Posts? Working with MyBlogLog?

Many blogs display a list of “recent” blog posts or “most popular” blog posts in their sidebars, using a plugin widget. But those lists of blogs stay the same regardless of who is visiting the blog.

Imagine a sidebar widget for a blog that can consider the online activities of visitors at sites like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, Digg, and Netflix, and recommend older blog posts from the blog being visited.

This widget might not only look at tweets and status updates and digs, or tags posted for pictures and favorited videos, but it may also pay attention to what those visitors blog about on their own sites, or what they enter into a user profile, or which articles they may read on a site.

A Yahoo patent application describes how they might put together such a widget, and how it might gather information to use to make recommendations:

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Paid Search Results and Query Expansion using Synonyms and Related Concepts

Search for “cheap cars” at Yahoo in the future, and you might see web search results and paid search results for terms like “job searches” or “bicycles” in the future, according to a recently published Yahoo patent application.

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on Google search results lately, you’ve possibly noticed that sometimes when you perform a search at Google that the search engine might broaden the search results that you see to include synonyms for one or more of the terms that you used for your search.

I wrote a post about that, Google Synonyms Update, in which I pointed to a couple of patent filings that Google made which described a couple of different ways that Google might come up with synonyms for search terms. In the comments section of the post, a couple of people asked what kind of implications this query expansion might have for sponsored search results.

Good question.

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Virginia SEO and Internet Marketing Meetup for Small Business

In its very earliest of days, SEO by the Sea began as an idea to have a gathering of people interested in internet marketing and search engine optimization away from the big cities, the expensive hotels, costly conferences, and crowded conference centers.

The idea of returning to those roots is something I’ve been considering for a while.

On Sunday, I took the first step by registering at meetup.com the Virginia SEO and Internet Marketing for Small Business. Meetup.com hasn’t officially announced the group yet by sending out emails informing meetup.com members of the new group, but should within the next day or two.

The meetup group is for small business owners and website developers and designers around me in Virginia who might be interested in learning more about internet marketing and search engine optimization. If you work on local government or nonprofit sites, or have a personal or professional blog, and are interested in learning more about SEO or internet marketing, it would be great to see you as well.

I have some ideas on places to hold local meetings, and am hoping to get some local businesses and business organizations involved.

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Facebook Patent Filings (Updated)

Added 2-26-2010 – Two more pending patent applications assigned to Facebook were published yesterday, and one of Facebook’s pending patent applications was granted earlier this week. I’ve added the patent applications, and moved the granted patent on “Dynamically providing newsfeeds” from the list of pending patent filings to the list of granted patents at the bottom of the post.

In addition, Facebook was assigned 9 granted patents from Hewlett-Packard Company, recorded at the USPTO on February 15, 2010, and was assigned a previously published patent application on February 11, 2010. Thanks to @TwiterHero for pointing out these additional patent assignments to me.

The last time I wrote about Facebook’s intellectual property was in a post from August of 2007 titled Facebook Timeline and Patent Application. At that time, Facebook only had one patent filing published at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Systems and methods for social mapping, which focused upon how members of the social network requested and confirmed relationships with others.

I thought it was interesting that the patent filing’s focus was on protecting the private information of others given the history of the development of Facebook, and that of its predecessor, the short-lived Facemash.

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Apple vs. Google vs. Yahoo on Location Awareness and Parking

I usually help site owners with increasing traffic to their web sites, and keep an eye on patent filings from companies that are involved in delivering information to people on the Web. But there seems to be another kind of traffic on the minds of companies like Apple, Yahoo, and Google.

The intersection between internet-connected phones and local search is increasingly including such services as providing maps, driving directions, public transit information, and location aware applications. Apple has a serious interest in providing applications for the iPhone that take advantage of location aware services as well, and a new patent filing from them describes a couple of interesting new services they may offer that involve parking and public transit services.

Street map image from Apple patent filing showing location of bus stop, parking restriction information, and the location of a parking garage.

As I noted, they aren’t alone in focusing upon providing real time information involving maps and transportation.

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Google Synonyms Update

Over at the Official Google Blog, Google’s Steven Baker just announced a major change in the way that Google handles search results by including synonyms for some words that may be used in queries, in the post
Helping computers understand language.

I wrote about the change on December 22, 2009, in my blog post How Google May Expand Searches Using Synonyms for Words in Queries, which describes a patent published by Google, Determining query term synonyms within query context, naming Steven Baker as a co-inventor.

I also included in my post an example which showed a change in the way that Google highlights query terms to include terms that Google might consider to be “synonyms.” The Official Google Blog provides some information about the change, including the change in highlighting behavior (which wasn’t specifically mentioned in the patent) and my December post digs more deeply into the granted patent.

Google’s Matt Cutts also provides some advice for webmasters on what this change might mean and how to address it in More info about synonyms at Google.

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Web Self-Help for Small Business

While in his Late 20s, Benjamin Franklin came up with a list of 13 virtues, which he thought were areas in his life where he could improve. He wrote these virtues down in a book and kept notes on how he was addressing them in his life. He chose a different virtue to focus upon each week, meaning that he would revisit each one 4 times a year.

Franklin was one of the first Americans to write about self help and self improvement, and the 13 virtues that he listed appeared frequently in his writings to the public. The virtues that Franklin focused upon were temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin at a writing desk with quill in one hand, paper in the other, and behind him through a window lightning shown striking a building - engraving by Pater Noster Row, dated 1778.

I remember when I first started working on a web site, and recall how much that site changed as I learned more about HTML, graphics, usability, marketing and other topics. Looking back, I’ve been wondering if it would have helped to have a list like Franklin’s, that I could have used to focus my efforts on building, maintaining, and promoting a web site, and that I can use in the future.

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