Yahoo Exploring Virtual Reality?

An interesting new patent filing from Yahoo raises a couple of interesting questions about the future of the company. It describes a wearable computing device that could be used in many ways and the patent application provides a number of examples that sound like something out of a science fiction novel I read a year or so ago.

Patent illustration of a pair of goggles that are a wearable computing device.

Something else that’s interesting is the apple on sidearm of the virtual goggles above, which the patent filing identifies as a visual power indicator. It looks surprisingly like something you would see on the back of an Apple laptop or on the main navigation bar at Apple.com. I don’t know if that has any significance at all, or if the creator of the image was having fun with the readers of the patent filing.

The pending patent application is:

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Yahoo Study Shows Search Responsible for 1 in 5 Pageviews Online

Would it surprise you if searches on the Web make up around 10 percent of all pageviews on the Web, and indirectly led to more than 21 percent of the pages viewed online? It surprised a couple of researchers from Yahoo.

That’s the result of a study conducted by Ravi Kumar and Andrew Tomkins from a sample of over 50 million user pageviews that they collected during 8 days in March, 2009. The information was captured through the Yahoo toolbar from people who agreed to the collection of data for this kind of analysis. Additional information was added by looking at the search logs from Yahoo.

While the data is limited to users of the Yahoo toolbar who agreed to the use of the data, and doesn’t include mobile searches or searches that used AJAX to display results, it does capture how people browse the Web and search at a number of search engines as well as searches at sites like eBay and Amazon.

The study is described in a paper titled A Characterization of Online Search Behavior (pdf), and is being presented tomorrow at the WWW2010 Conference in a session dedicated to User Models on the Web.

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How a Search Engine Might Crowdsource Web Spam Identification

The term crowdsourcing was coined by Wired correspondent Jeff Howe, in a 2006 article titled The Rise of Crowdsourcing, where he described how a crowd of people might use their spare time to help in solving problems or creating content, or in addressing other issues that a single person or organization might have difficulties addressing on their own. Could a search engine effectively rely upon searchers to help clean up web spam in search results?

A crowd of people milling about, waiting on Lincoln's second inauguration speech.

What if search engines added a “feedback” button to every page that they showed in search results where searchers could report pages in those results as web spam? Or, if they added a spam button to their toolbar that searchers could click upon to indentify pages they found through a search as spam?

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Is Your Site Faster than a Fortune 100 Company?

Google and Yahoo on Faster Web Pages

Earlier this month, Google announced that they would start considering the speed of a site as one of the ranking signals that they use to rank pages in search results.

Yahoo published a patent filing last year that also described how they might use page load and page rendering times as ranking signals as well. I wrote a post soon after it was published, Does Page Load Time influence SEO? exploring how Yahoo and other search engines might look at different factors regarding the speed of pages, including the experience of users on web pages.

Google’s Matt Cutts wrote about the recent Google announcement, and provided some more details, telling us that it’s likely that less than 1 percent of queries would be affected by this change.

Who Benefits?

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How a Search Engine May Identify Undesirable Web Pages By Analyzing Inlinks

The term “undesirable web pages” is used in a patent application from Yahoo published today to refer to pages that rank highly in search results based upon links pointed to those pages solely for the purpose of increasing their rankings for specific queries even though those pages may not be very relevant for the query terms in question.

“Undesirable” appears to indicate that these are pages that Yahoo doesn’t want ranking well in search results at their search engine.

So, what might Yahoo (and possibly other search engines) look at to determine whether a page is undesirable based upon the links it sees to that page?

Analyzing Inlinks for Manipulation

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How do you start a blog post?

How do you start a blog post? Do you follow a pattern in the way you write your posts, or do you mix up how you present what you write, and how you reach out to your audience?

Here are some approaches that one could use:

a. Using a journalistic inverted pyramid style, where you begin your post with the most important text first, answering typical journalist questions such as ‘who,’ ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘how’?

b. With a story or anecdote or case study that might capture visitors’ attentions rather than first providing the central fact or opinion behind your post.

c. With a statistic that might surprise or generate responses or both.

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Phrasification and Revisiting Google’s Phrase Based Indexing

A newly granted Google patent on phrase-based indexing calls for a new look at that approach to indexing phrases on the Web, including a process referred to as phrasification.

Say you want to find out who the chief of police is in New York City. You might type the following words into a search box at Google:

  • New York police chief

When Google attempts to find an answer for you, it may break your query into individual words to find all of the documents that might be a best match for your search:

  • New AND York AND police AND chief

Google may then take all the documents that are returned, and see which ones contain all of the terms you used, and then rank those based upon some of the ranking algorithms the search engine uses to try to show you the best matches for your query.

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Web Browsing History Better Search Engine Ranking Signal than PageRank?

There are a number of ways a search engine may decide upon how important a web page might be. That measure of importance might be used by search engines, along with a determination of relevance, as one of the ranking signals used to decide which pages to show first in lists of results shown to searchers. That importance might also be used to decide which pages a search engine crawling program should crawl and index, and revisit to see if content on those pages have changed.

A search engine might view the links between web pages, and decide that pages linked to frequently are more important than pages that aren’t. It might also determine that web pages that are linked to by important pages are more important than pages linked to by less important pages. Google’s PageRank is one approach for determining how important pages might be based upon looking at links between pages.

There are other ways that a search engine might use to decide how important a web page might be, including actually attempting to see how many people actually use that page.

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