The Impact of Content Change on Search Engine Rankings

Tomorrow the footers of a great number of websites will automatically change to show a new copyright date. Others will wait for site owners to manually code the change. It’s a change worth making, because it shows visitors that the sites are maintained and up-to-date. As changes go though, it’s a fairly insignificant change, and likely won’t have much influence on the rankings of pages in search results. Many pages on the Web change in minor ways everyday, including updates to visitor counters, subtle changes in formatting, and new advertisements shown on pages.

Many other web pages change in more significant ways on a regular basis, from blog home pages that show new posts, to news media sites that might add new storylines every 15 minutes, to social sites that constantly change as multitudes add updates.

How frequently a search engine crawler might visit a particular page on the Web can depend in part upon how often the page is updated. For example, a news site, updating every hour might have Googlebot or MSNbot sniffing around hourly to devour new content.

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The Importance of Navigation

I have a confession to make. When I’m driving through cities, I tend to get lost. It doesn’t matter if I have driving directions printed out from Google Maps, Mapquest, Yahoo Maps, or some other map services to help guide me. I tend to miss signs that are hard to see, get distracted by pedestrians walking out in front of me, find myself in the middle of funeral processions, and often pull over in strange and sometimes not very safe looking places to find where I’m at, through the web on my phone. But, that’s not what I’m confessing to.

My confession is that I’m fixiated on navigation. I’m convinced that one of the solutions to high energy consumption in the United States could be fixed if the transportation offices of major cities were smarter about using signs to help drivers navigate through their roads. I think better signage could make metropolitan roads safer as well, and reduce congestion. Maybe I’ve looked at too many websites, and how the navigation on those pages can make it easier or harder to find what you’re looking for on a website. On a website though, if I have trouble finding what I’m looking for, I can easily find a way home. When I’m lost in the middle of Camden, New Jersey, it’s not as easy.

You would think that the many mapping and driving directions services on the Web would help. I wish they would.

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Is Google Now a Phone Company?

Back on August 9, the Google Public Policy Blog announced A joint policy proposal for an open Internet, co-authored by Google’s Alan Davidson, and Verizon Executive VP Tom Tauke. It was a little surprising seeing Google and Verizon join together to compromise about Net Neutrality.

The proposal from the two companies set two different sets of rules when it comes to broadband access and mobile access to the Web.

Earlier today, The FCC adopted a set of regulations regarding Net Neutrality, and the policy proposal from Google and Verizon seems to have played a part in how the new regulations will work. The regulation of Net Neutrality is a topic worth expanding upon, but I was more curious at this point about the relationship between Google and Verizon.

I’m not sure what role the following might have played in Google’s stance on Net Neutrality, but I found it pretty interesting. Yesterday, I wrote about how Google had acquired a number of phone related patents from Myriad Group. On November 8, 2010, the US Patent and Trademark office recorded the assignment of 84 granted and pending patent applications from Verizon Patent and Licensing Inc, to Google.

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Google’s Acquisition of Myriad Group Phone Patents

While Google started with a focus upon search on desktop computers, one of the areas where they seem to be growing quickly involves mobile technology. The future of search, of internet marketing, and SEO is increasingly moving towards mobile search and services as more people connect to the internet with handheld devices.

We see Google acquiring new companies and technology enabling phones to be used as electronic wallets, improving their capability to deliver secure digital content, including video, on a wide range of devices, including smartphones, and working on becoming more accurate in pinpointing where a user of their services might be for location-based services.

Google’s last quarterly financial statement noted that Google has made more than 40 acquisitions of companies in the past year, and a number of those involve mobile technology. One company that you won’t see on a list of acquistions by Google is Purple Labs, which until a year or so ago was busy developing (or acquiring) technology related to linux based software for mobile phones. But you may see their influence felt at Google.

In March of 2009, the shareholders of Esmertec AG agreed to the acquisition of Purple Labs, and approved a name change of the merged companies to Myriad Group AG. The CEO of Purple Labs, Simon Wilkinson was named the CEO of the new company. We’re told in the Myriad Group press release:

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Google’s Acquisition of Zetawire brings Electronic Wallets Nearer

Will Google be bringing us electronic wallets in the future?

If you look through your wallet, you’ll find a mix of objects such as credit cards, identification cards, and business cards. Google made an acquisition of Canadian startup Zetawire, in August, that makes an electronic version of a wallet a step closer.

Imagine visiting a museum for a day. You pull into a parking lot, and an alert on your phone tells you that information about the lot is available to you on your phone, including rates, hours of operation, and a map of the area. You park, and follow the directions on the map out to the museum.

Once inside, you stop off at the gift shop where you purchase a few postcards to send off to friends, using your phone to pay for the cards. Your phone logs into the museum system to access your donor membership before the payment is made, and your member discount is applied to the cost of the cards.

Stepping into the museum, another alert rings, and an offer to have a phone guided tour of the museum becomes available, showing you details about every exhibit as you approach them.

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How a Search Engine Might Handle Nicknames and Given Names

One of the challenges that search engines face during searches can involve returning and expanding results that include given names and nicknames for people.

With a given name of William, I usually go by the name Bill, and people rarely refer to me as William (especially people who know me – with the sometimes exception of my mom). I will use William on official government documents, resumes, and in other places that seem to call for a formal use of my name. Searches on my name at one of the major search engines will return some results refering to me as Bill, and a lesser amount that refer to me as William. It would be nice if they included both, regardless of whether my search query used “Bill,” or “William.”

What can make searches for nicknames more challenging is that a nickname of Bill might refer to a given name of William, Wilheim, Wilfred, Guillaume, or Guillermo. Someone with the given name of William might also commonly use a nickname of Bill, Will, Willie, Billy, or others.

Can a search engine help a searcher find results for a person whom they only know the given name for, or whom they only know the nickname for?

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Implications of Google’s Acquisition of WideVine

What does the acquisition of WideVine mean to Google?

Around a decade or so ago, one of my co-workers asked for help with an ebook. The book was purchased to use at home, but couldn’t be transferred over to a computer at work to read during lunch breaks. Being able to easily transfer the book over to a work computer would have been great, but we recognized that the seller provided limited access to books to try to protect their copyrights. It would have been great if the book was portable, and could be used at different locations on different computers.

When Google acquired WideVine a few days ago, the focus of most commentary on the purchase involved what it might mean to Google involving video content.

Here are a few of those topics:

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The Evolution of Google Ratings (Experts Delegating Authority)?

Imagine Google offering a rating system where you can ask experts, or authorities, to provide ratings for pages on the Web such as scientific articles, tutorials, news stories, or editorials, or products and current movies. It’s something that we might see from Google in the future, if they follow through on a process described in a patent granted to them earlier this week.

How might it work?

You log into this evaluation system and present what you want rated, and you’re provided with a list of primary authorities that you can choose amongst to rate your page or product or movie.

For example, you’re interested in learning about Diabetes, and you run across an article that tells you about how a version of vitamin B1, Benfotiamine, may potentially be useful in fighting off some of the damages that high blood sugar might do to your body. You’d like to know what some experts in the field might think about the article, and you’re shown authorities in the field listed as authorities on the subject, such as the American Medical Association, the Harvard Medical School, and the American Diabetes Association. You select those three organizations to provide ratings.

Those authorities, and people whom they’ve delegated some of their authority to, provide ratings for the article in a manner like you might see in or Slashdot.

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