GPS to Correct Google Maps and Driving Directions as a Local Search Ranking Factor?

I love local search. It follows many practices similar to Web search, though different often in ways that do reflect an attempt to map the real world. Google’s Streetview cars are a little like Google’s webcrawler Googlebot. Instead of collecting URLs for Websites, Google Maps collects addresses to associate with businesses, nonprofits, government offices, parks, landmarks, and many other destinations. It has its own challenges as well, such as the streetviews car being turned away at sentry guard booths for military bases, or not being able to drive down “private” roads. Google Maps also can’t use latitude and longitude coordinates in places like China since their export and use is classified by that country as if they were munitions.

A mobile phone screen showing the location of a searcher, near the Googleplex

I’m also often frustrated by local search. Driving directions from Google often begin by telling you to go “east” or “west” on your first turn. I’m not Mason or Dixon, Lewis or Clark, and I don’t carry an in-car compass with me when I drive. I often have no problems with the directions other than that, for the first 99% of the trip, and then have problems with the last few hundred feet.

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Google Acquires iLOR Patent Used to Sue Google

Might Google start providing more link options in Google Instant Previews as a result of this acquisition?

A company that filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Google in 2007,on the day that their last patent was granted, has now assigned all of their patents to Google. The flowchart below is from one of their patents and shows multiple link options available when someone hovers over a link.

A flowchart from one of the iLOR patents, showing link options available after hovering over a link

The company, iLOR, LLC, applied for a preliminary injunction against Google’s Notebook application, and Google successfully filed a motion for summary judgment to terminate the claims against it, and was awarded around $660,000 in attorney’s fees. The case set a new standard (pdf) on appeal on when attorney’s fees should be awarded in patent infringement cases when the decision regarding the fees was reversed on appeal.

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Google Acquires More IBM Patents In September

Google seems to be making a regular habit of acquiring patents from IBM, with a new acquisition of 39 granted patents and two pending patent applications on September 30th, recorded at the USPTO today. Like the earlier transactions this year of 1,030 patents tranferred in May, and 1,023 patents assigned in August, there’s a wide range of technology included in the transaction between Google and IBM.

The list of patents includes one filed in 1996 involving the use of an API and a java applet, which sounded pretty interesting (I listed it first), especially considering the ongoing Oracle-Google litigation involves java and APIs. Some of the other patents included are listed in that patent as being related to it. Other inventions include such things as file archiving approaches, distributed database information systems, encryption, user authentication, and managing configurations of computer systems.

Google and Oracle are set to go to trial on October 31st on claims that Google infringed java related patents held by Oracle, in which Oracle is claiming more than $1 Billion in damages.

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How a Search Engine might Weigh the Relevance of Anchor Text Differently

One of the things that’s clear about how search engines work is that when they find a link pointing to a page using certain anchor text, that page might be seen to be a little more relevant for the text found in that link. Google pointed that out in one of the earliest white papers about how the search engine works:

This idea of propagating anchor text to the page it refers to was implemented in the World Wide Web Worm [McBryan 94] especially because it helps search non-text information, and expands the search coverage with fewer downloaded documents. We use anchor propagation mostly because anchor text can help provide better quality results. Using anchor text efficiently is technically difficult because of the large amounts of data which must be processed. In our current crawl of 24 million pages, we had over 259 million anchors which we indexed.

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

But one of the assumptions that many make is that each link, with its anchor text, is equally as important as any other link and that if a page has lots of links pointing to it with certain anchor text included in those links that it will rank more highly for the terms found in that text than it otherwise might in the absence of all those links.

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