The Google Hummingbird Patent?

The Google Hummingbird Patent

Google introduced a new algorithm by the name of Hummingbird to the world today at the garage where Google started as a business, during a celebration of Google’s 15th Birthday. Google doesn’t appear to have replaced previous signals such as PageRank or many of the other signals that they use to rank pages. The announcement of the new algorithm told us that Google actually started using Hummingbird a number of weeks ago and that it potentially impacts around 90% of all searches.

A screenshot from the Google hummingbird patent showing different elements and databases in use to better understand queries
It’s being presented as a query expansion or broadening approach which can better understand longer natural language queries, like the ones that people might speak instead of shorter keyword matching queries which someone might type into a search box.

For example, the kind of query where it might potentially work best upon could be something like [What is the best place to find and eat Chicago deep-dish style pizza?], where Google might use synonym and substitute query rules in combination with analyzing other non-skip words within the query itself to understand the context of a query term and a potential replacement for that query to reformulate (or replace) the terms being searched upon and provide potentially better results.

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Driving Directions vs. Reviews as Ranking Signals for Google Maps

In my college days, I cooked at some local restaurants (free meals made it an attractive option for a starving college student). One of the restaurants was in the center of town, at one end of Main Street, and it was a popular place for local residents who returned over and over. It had a great reputation, and word-of-mouth propelled advertising for the place. Another dining venue I worked at was outside of the center of town, nearby an interstate highway. It didn’t have a great reputation, and very few regular customers, except for people who would stop during mealtime from the busy interstate. The “food” sign from the highway attracted most of the traffic to its dining room.

Funny thing is that most of the regulars that frequented the first restaurant rarely had to look up its location because it was so well known. Most of the people who visited the second restaurant had never been there before and relied upon the highway sign. There’s another restaurant in that location now, and I have no doubt that many people find it via maps or navigation on their mobile devices or in-car navigation. I mention this because I have some issues with a recently granted Google patent.

The patent, which was granted to Google this week, describes how the search engine may look at “popularity” signals such as how often people look up driving directions for businesses with locations that they can visit in person. It also tells us that in some cases, such as where driving directions lookups are sparse, Google might look at some alternative signals, such as reviews of those businesses, to use a popularity signal to rank pages.

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How Google May Reform Queries Based on Co-Occurrence in Query Sessions

When you search, especially for topics that you know little about, chances are that you might not include the most relevant terms in your query, or you might use words that may have ambiguous meanings.

One of the areas where search engines focus a lot of attention upon is in reformulating queries through query suggestions and query expansion to help searchers better meet their situational and informational needs quickly.

"Google query suggestions on a search for [find airedale terrier puppies]"

When you search, you might see a number of query suggestions at the bottom of the results that were first returned, like the ones above on a search for [find airedale terrier puppies]. Or a search engine might include synonyms or substitute queries to expand your original query.

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Joining Go Fish Digital

Something was missing, and I didn’t exactly know what it was. Around a year or so ago, I joined a big agency, and that gave me a chance to look at a lot of sites, provide in-depth consultation audits for a number of clients, perform monthly strategy reviews for others, inform the sales team on issues that might be helpful to address in proposals, and help other SEOs within the company when they asked for it.

I enjoyed doing these things, but there was something missing. I enjoyed working with the crew that I worked with as well. It’s great to work with people who are excited about the Web and about learning and growing. I’m now going to be working with a new crew who are filled with excitement and energy and innovation.

I’m officially making this announcement on a Google Hangout On Air, titled Link Building Algorithms with Eric Enge and Bill Slawski where we are going to be joined by David Harry, Steve Webb, Chris Countey, Pete Meyers, and David Amerland. We are going to be talking about some of the changes and announcements from Google regarding things like the Penguin update, messages from Google about unnatural links, and a number of videos featuring Google’s Matt Cutts, as well as a number of patents from Google that look at how they use and evaluate links.

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