Hints of How Google May Rank Social Networks?

A trio of recently published patent applications from Google, originally filed in 2007, provide a hint at a possible social network from Google, but possibly more importantly give us some insights into how Google might rank objects in social networks such as:

  • Communities,
  • Forums,
  • Members,
  • Postings,
  • Photographs,
  • Blogs,
  • Albums,
  • Media files,
  • Articles, and;
  • Documents.

Ranking Social Network Objects, invented by Qingshan Luo, Hang Cui, Bo Zhang, and Dong Zhang, and published January 27, 2011, focuses primarily upon how these different objects might be ranked when found in a social network based upon the type of object involved.

When a search engine ranks a web page, a blog post, or a news article, it can look at things like how often certain keywords appear within those documents. It can see how many pages link to those pages, and look at a number of other signals that might help to rank how those appear in search results.

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Why a Search Engine Might Cluster Concepts to Improve Search Results

Conventional search engines focus upon the words that they find on a web page rather than the meanings of those words. So, when you search for something like [cooking classes Palo Alto], a search engine might look for all of the pages that it can find that include all of those words. If it doesn’t find many, it might do something called “backing off,” and also show some results that don’t include all of the words.

But, chances are that the search engine might not show results for a slightly different version of that search, such as [cooking class palo alto], where “classes” is replaced with “class.” While “class” and “classes” are related with class being a subpart, or stem, of the word classes, sometimes variations of words have very different meanings when used in different contexts.

Google was granted a patent this week that focuses upon more effectively capturing the underlying semantic meaning behind words within text. It builds upon a patent that Google was granted in 2008 which “characterizes a document with respect to clusters of conceptually related words.”

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Small Business Blogging Content Strategies

One of the challenges facing someone when they first decide to start a blog is figuring out what to write about, whom to write for, and how to incoporate blogging into their daily routine. This is true for businesses that to decide to add a blog to their website as well.

Coming up with a blog content strategy can make those challenges much easier. The first step involves asking yourself why you’re considering blogging to begin with. Why blog?

Blogging Objectives

One of the first steps you want to take with a business blog is to define what you want it to achieve. That might include:

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Google’s Show More Results (Plusbox) Patent

Back on August 20th of 2010, Google Software Engineer Samarth Keshava published a post titled Showing more results from a domain, telling us:

Today we’ve launched a change to our ranking algorithm that will make it much easier for users to find a large number of results from a single site. For queries that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain, like [exhibitions at amnh], we’ll now show more results from the relevant site.

The example provided in the post showed seven results from the same museum on a search for exhibits at that museum. He goes on to tell us that in the past, Google would have likely only shown two results from the same domain. In May of 2009, I wrote a post which described when and why Google might show more than two results from the same domain in search results.

My post, Boosting Brands, Businesses, and Other Entities: How a Search Engine Might Assume a Query Implies a Site Search, pointed at a Google patent Query rewriting with entity detection which described when Google might decide to show a number of search results from the same site. The assumption behind that patent was that the intent behind some queries was not so much a request to search the Web for information, but rather was a desire to see specific information from a site closely related to a “named entity” included in the query.

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Irony, Thy Name is Microsoft

Microsoft was granted a new patent today, Search ranger system and double-funnel model for search spam analyses and browser protection (US Patent 7,873,635), which provides a detailed look at how Bing might attempt to identify search spammers who redirect traffic from search results pages to pages filled with advertising or other content intended to earn the spammers some money.

The patent uses Google’s Adsense as an example of the kind of advertising that these spammers might use in one of these cloaking schemes.

Ironically, Google’s Matt Cutts also uncovered an interesting Bing affiliate scheme today, from a company that Ad Age calls FaceBook’s third largest advertiser in the third quarter of last year.

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The Real Problem with Borders Books is Search

Borders Books is struggling, with Distribution Centers and Stores closing. The General Counsel and Secretary of the company resigned at the start of the year. Talks about restructuring the chain are filling the news, and the bookseller is starting to open new stores that look to products other than books to attract customers.

I prefer shopping for books in person, and my local Borders is an inviting place, giving me the chance to browse at my leisure, sit in a comfortable chair and skim through books, or grab a cup of coffee while I decide what I might want to buy.

I rarely see the Border’s website in search results when I’m looking up a book. I don’t see their main competitor, Barnes & Noble, in search results as well. I decided to compare search rankings for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders Books for a number of books.

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How a Search Engine Might Fight Googlebombing

The first known appearance of the phrase “googlebomb” showed up in an article by Adam Mathes in the online magazie uber.nu, in a request to help pull a joke on a friend of his, by making the friend’s website rank highly for the term “talentless hack.”

You’ve possibly noticed that some pages rank well in Google search results for terms of phrases that don’t actually appear on those pages, because other pages link to those pages using those words as the text that accompanies those links. For example, search for “click here” and the top search result at Google is the Adobe Reader download page, which is linked to by millions of links across the Web using “click here” as a link to the page.

I’ve used the phrase “Googlebomb” in this post, but this is something that happens at Yahoo and Bing as well. Given enough links from enough pages using the same text pointing to a specific page, and there’s a chance that the page being linked to might rank very well in search results from any of the major search engines, even if the content of the page has nothing to do with the text in those links.

Usually, when people link to pages, the text used in those links if often descriptive of what people might find at the pages being linked to. This can help a search engine understand what the page being pointed to is about. Search engines have been associating the text in links to the pages that they refer to since the early days of the Web. As Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page note in one of the first white papers about Google, The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, the idea is something that they incorporated in Google, but it didn’t start with them:

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Favorite SEO by the Sea Posts from 2010

I took a look back at the posts here from 2010, and tried to decide which ones stood out for me in some way. These are some of my favorites from last year:

Web Self-Help for Small Business

This post was inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s self help approach, and a look back at when I first started building and promoting web pages as an inhouse webmaster and SEO. In addition to the 13 areas that I choose to concentrate upon to become a better webmaster/SEO, there were a lot of good suggestions in the comments that follow the post.

Having Fun with -Onyms in Keyword Research

Keyword research can be a chore, but it can be pretty interesting as well. This post is about some of the methods that I use to expand my choices of keywords as I do research.

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