Heading Elements and the Folly of SEO Expert Ranking Lists

How important are heading elements to the rankings of webpages by search engines?

I’ve seen arguments by people who write about and study search engines and SEO very closely, which often appear written up in “SEO Expert Ranking Lists,” that HTML heading elements (<h1>, <h2>, etc.) are very important, arguments that heading elements were once important and are no longer, and arguments that heading elements were never important. Sadly, all of those arguments are likely wrong. Not so much about the importance or lack of, but rather about the reasons for that importance.

It’s possible that a search engine might notice when a word or term or phrase appears near the top of a page, or above a wall of text. It’s also possible that a search engine pays attention when those are shown in larger font sizes, or bolder than the rest of the page text, or in a different font than the remainder of the words on the page. But that prominence and that display isn’t really what a heading element is about. HTML has a font size large attribute and property. There’s also a bold property. Any words on a page near the top of that page might be said to be more prominent than others.

You can use many HTML element attributes and values and/or cascading style sheet properties to make words within different HTML elements bolder and larger, and to transform them to all capitals or a different font or color, or all of those if you want. You can purposefully place certain text at the top of a page to make it appear that the rest of the page is described by those words.

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10 Most Important SEO Patents: Part 6 – Named Entity Detection in Queries

In the last installment of this series, we looked at how Google may be using phrase based indexing to use the fact that many phrases often tend to co-occur with other phrases within the content of web pages, to re-rank those pages. When we look at phrases, we also need to drill down to a special set of phrases describing named entities, or specific people, places, or things. In addition to trying to understand which phrases might tend to co-occur with those named entities, the search engines may look to other sources such as Wikipedia, Freebase from Metaweb, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), and different map databases to attempt to understand when a phrase indicates an actual (or fictional) entity and may perform named entity detection on queries searching for those pages

Google, Bing, and Yahoo all look for named entities on web pages and in search queries, and will use their named entity detection to do things like answer questions such as “where was Barack Obama born?” This type of named entity detection is having an increased role in Search.

A Question and Answer result at Google for the question of where Barack Obama was born.

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IBM Assigns 217 More Patent Filings to Google including Wireless Phones and Javascript Widgets

Looks like Google and IBM are working together again to build up Google’s patent portfolio, from an update at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent assignment database. Details beyond the actual patents involved aren’t known yet. The last couple of times I wrote about large patent transactions between Google and IBM this past July and September, Google ended up sending out emails a few hours after my posts to a number of large media sites such as the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, and a number of others disclosing the acquisitions. We’ll see if they do that again.

The last week of 2011, Google acquired 188 granted patents and 29 published pending patent applications from IBM, according to the USPTO assignment database, with an execution data on the assignment of the patents on December 28, 2011, in a deal that was officially recorded at the patent office on December 30, 2011.

The patents cover a broad range of topics, such as presentation software, blade servers, data caching, server load balancing, network performance, video conferencing, email administration, and instant messaging applications. A number of the patents cover specific internet, phone, and mobile phone technologies as well.

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