An announcement on the Official Google Blog yesterday, +1’s: the right recommendations right when you want them—in your search results, described a new social element that you can add to Google Search results. You can share recommendations about sites that you see when you search in Google by clicking upon a little box with a “+1” inside of it that appears next to each result. The Google blog post tells us that this voting system will soon be available to people who have Google Profiles and who are logged into their Google Accounts. If you want to see it in action before that, you need to go to the Google Experimental Search pages and sign up to participate in this “experiment.”
A video about Google +1 is interesting for a couple of reasons. One of them is that it explains how Google +1 works, and another is that it mentions that this kind of voting might be available outside of Google search results on other websites sometime soon in the future:
Imagine being able to subscribe to a service where public service agencies, advertisers, and friends may be able to leave you mobile messages when you drive through or arrive at a specific location.
Google acquired a series of related patents earlier this month that cover this kind of location-based service, originally filed by a Fairfax Virginia based company, Xybernaut Corporation.
A screenshot from one of the patents shows this system implemented as a navigational device, but the patent is written in a way that enables a system like this to be used by many different types of handheld devices as well. It’s possible that Google Maps Navigation could use this system, though it could also be built into other parts of a mobile phone system as well. And it has a potential social element to it as well.
The earliest of the patents was filed in December of 2000:
The HTML5 standard being developed for the Web introduces a new set of HTML elements. These include elements such as section, header, footer, article, aside, header, and nav. Mark Pilgrim’s online book, Dive into HTML5 gives us a look at the newest version of HTML5, and shows us how these New Semantic Elements might change around the way that we create web pages in ways that might make it easier for automatic programs like search engines to understand what different sections of pages might mean.
Interestingly, the search engines have been working hard trying to do this themselves for a number of years, and a new patent granted to Google today describes how it might work to understand different parts of web pages, and use that understanding to help it rank web pages in search results, caption images, construct snippets for search result pages, and weigh links differently when they appear in different semantic parts of Web pages.
Microsoft has published a number of patents and whitepapers on how they might perform some of activities while breaking pages down into smaller blocks. My most recent blog post describing the Microsoft efforts was about a patent filing that gave us some insights into how they determined the Functions of different Blocks in web pages. That post has some links in it to other posts here involving papers and patent filings from Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google.
What steps can a search engine take to give a searcher more information about the credibilty of a page that searcher might be viewing in search results? Is it better to show annotations that might provide a measure of credibility in search results themselves, or in something like a browser toolbar?
Might signals that measure things like credibility also be used in ranking algorithms and reranking approaches like the recent Panda ranking update at Google?
A recent whitepaper from Microsoft explores the topic.
If you were asked to point out the patent that describes PageRank, and you went searching at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you might quickly get confused. A little more confusion comes today, with the granting of a new patent on PageRank to Stanford University. I’ve also located the very first PageRank patent which I haven’t seen anywhere else other than in the USPTO information retrieval system.
There were a number of related patents about PageRank filed in the late 90s addressing different aspects of PageRank by Lawrence Page, and a stream of continuation patents that updated the originals. Many of the patents either claim priority over earlier patents, or state that they are continuations of some of the earlier ones.
The earliest filing was for a provisional patent (application number 60035205) which was never officially assigned or published, but was filed on January 10, 1997. Titled Improved Text Searching in Hypertext Systems (pdf – 1.7mb), the patent office information retrieval system contains a document it describes as “Miscellaneous Incoming Letter,” which contains the provisional patent filing and an appendix describing processes being applied for. It is highly recommended reading if you’re interested in the history of PageRank and Google.
Recently, many are pointing to Google’s Panda update as one that considers things like how much advertising and where advertisements are located on a web page as indications of the quality of a Web site.
Of course, there are likely other factors that the search engine would consider when scoring a site based upon quality signals, but the ratio of advertising to content seems to be an important signal.
Many sites rely upon advertisements as a source of revenue, and being able to offer ads that are relevant to a visitors informational and transactional needs isn’t a bad thing. Many sites referred to as content farms primarily offer enough information to have their pages rank highly in search engines for certain terms without providing a range and depth of information on topics related to those terms.