Bad Dates in Google Snippets: Hey Google, I’ve Blogged a Little Since 2005!

In my RSS feed reader, I have a section that I labeled “Vanity.” The feeds that occupy it are things like web search and twitter search feeds for my name, my sites’ names, my business name, and some other searches that interest me on the Web. I don’t really consider tracking these things to be a matter of vanity, but instead of necessity – a way to find conversations that might involve me, my site, and my business, and a chance to possibly get involved in those discussions.

As a site owner, I’ve also developed a habit that many site owners likely also share, of performing searches for queries such as my name, my sites’ names, my business name, and some other queries that I’m interested in. The exercise isn’t one based upon obsession with ranking as much as it is about being concerned about those conversations that I mentioned above, and concerned about how the search engines might be portraying my sites. For instance, when I search for my site name (seo by the sea), and Google shows a snippet that starts off with the date “Mar 8, 2005,” I find myself concerned about what that might mean to people who see that date.

A Google search result for seo by the sea, showing a date of Mar 8, 2005 at the start of the description for the site.

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Could Yahoo Launch a Smarter Instant Search?

Google has received a great deal of attention recently for immediate updates to search results while searchers type query terms into the Google search box. Yahoo was granted a patent on a similar process this past March, but there seems to be a difference in Yahoo’s approach to Instant Search. Instead of updating search results for every letter typed for a query, the Yahoo process may only show updates when Yahoo believes those might provide meaningful results to a viewer, before a query is fully formed.

Some of the recent discussion about Google Instant has pointed out that Yahoo had developed an “Instant Search” back in 2005, though Yahoo’s Instant Search never made it to Yahoo’s main search page the way that Google’s has now. Would Yahoo bring Instant Search to their display of search results, even with Bing powering the search database behind Yahoo? Shashi Seth, the Senior Vice President of Yahoo! Search Products, hinted at the possibility about ten days ago in a Yahoo! Search Blog post, Back to the Future: Innovation is Alive in Search

The patent is:

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Google Instant: Tradeoffs Include Less Implied Local Results?

[Added 10:53 pm (edt) – Make sure to check the comments for somewhat of an amendment on the observation that starts this post… Now you may have to save a location with Google (via the “remember this location” or “change location”) like you also see when checking movie times or weather, to see local map results in a query which doesn’t include a geographic location… I don’t believe that was true before Google Instant was turned on.]

Not long ago, when you typed “pizza” into Google, you would see a map and a number of local pizza places listed in your search results. Have you noticed that no local maps show up anymore when you type “pizza” or “plumber” or “toy store” into Google these days? Those maps may be a victim of the caching needed to save bandwidth for Google Instant…

Last week, Google made a change to their search interface that has drawn a lot of attention and discussion across the Web. Google refers to the change as Google Instant, and the impact of the change is that when you type into Google’s search box, in addition to seeing a dropdown box offering query suggestions, the search results that you see update as you type. Those instant results were described in a patent filing from Google more than five years ago – see my 2005 post: Can Google Read Your Mind? Processing Predictive Queries.

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Quiksee to Take Google StreetViews Off the Streets and Indoors with Mobile Camera Device?

StreetViews indoors? Not long ago, Google started inviting businesses to apply to have Google Photographers film the insides of their businesses. But what if those photographers showed up with something like this:

An image of someone riding a mobile camera device with cameras mounted on top and a laptop in front.

The news of Google’s acquisition of Quiksee, also known as Mentorwave Technologies Ltd., is spreading around the Web, and most of the focus of the discussion is on Quiksee’s technology for easy virtual tour creation.

But Quiksee’s patent filings reveal that there’s more that Google might use, including a mobile device that can be used to film in places where Google’s StreetView cars can’t go, such as sidewalks, parks, and indoors. Quicksee’s patents, assigned to them under the name Mentorwave Technologies Ltd., show some other technologies that might be attractive to Google.

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How a Search Engine Might Rerank Search Results Based upon Topics

If you search for the word “cold” and you’re using the search box for a health related site, chances are you want to find out something about the illness. If you search for “cold” at Google or Yahoo or Bing, there’s a chance that you might be interested in weather or airconditioning or a cold war or stuffy nose.

Different sites and pages might focus upon specific topics of interest, such as health or sports, or weather, or constuction. A way a search engine might use to try to get around some of the limitations of words with multiple meanings is to assign domain or topical scores to web pages and other items found on the Web, regardless of which queries they might be good results for. Then if a query seems to cover a specific domain or topic, to return pages that involve that topic, based upon a “domain score” for those pages.

Why Look at Domains (Categories of Interest) in Ranking Pages?

The patent’s description begins by describing conventional methods of ranking pages in search results. When a search engine attempts to match a query with a document, there are a number of steps that it may go through first.

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Would Google Offer Embedded Search Links to Site Owners?

There are a number of advertising services on the Web that offer contextual search link sevices, which identify terms on a site and embed links within them pointing to advertisers’ pages. A Google patent granted earlier this week describes a way that web site publishers could identify parts of their pages that they would allow links on from Google, which would point to Google search results pages.

This system could be set up so that if someone clicks on one of those links, and chooses an advertisment, the owner of the page the link appears upon might receive compensation based upon the visitor’s click.

The patent is:

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SEO Quiz

I thought it might be fun to put together an SEO Quiz.

How many of the following can you get right?

I’ll post the answers later. The answers are now listed, after a spoiler warning below.

1. Stanford University’s PageRank is named after?

a. Ranking Web Pages
b. Satchel Page
c. Larry Page
d. The Palo Alto Gradient Evaluation
e. None of the above

2. Which of the following search engine crawling models has not been proposed in either an academic paper or patent for emulating how people might visit web pages?

a. Random Surfer
b. Rowdy Surfer
c. Cautious Surfer
d. Reasonable Surfer
e. None of the above

3. Which company wasn’t started by two students who walked away from finishing their degrees.

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Apple to Take on Google in Showing Immediate Search Results?

About ten days ago, Rob Ousbey posted a video on his blog showing Google streaming updates to search results as he typed letters into a search box. As he typed out his query, not only did he see a dropdown of suggested queries, but the search results themselves actually changed as he added letters.

According to the comments in his post, Live Updating Google Search Results, these kind of streaming live results have been available through Google’s Ajax Search API for a while, but Rob’s post was the first documentation of Google testing the approach live on their own site. The first mention I’ve seen of Google immediately updating search results as someone typed their query was in a Google patent filing that I wrote about back in 2005, Can Google Read Your Mind? Processing Predictive Queries.

But Google isn’t the only one to file a patent on automatically updating search results.

Apple was granted a patent this week on a very similar process:

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