Google Patents Click-Through Feedback on Search Results to Improve Rankings

I was excited to see a Google Patent granted this past Thursday, which describes how Google may rank pages in part based upon user feedback (clicks) in response to rankings for those pages. The patent tells us that this kind of identifying of a user’s needs and determining which documents are returned that might be most useful to a searcher can involve “a fair amount of mind-reading—inferring from various clues what the user wants.” But, we’ve been told recently by a Google Spokesperson that such clues can be misleading. I thought it was still worth pointing the patent out.

Google may capture search click results.
Just one click away…, Matthias Ripp, Some rights reserved

Some clues may be user specific, the patent authors tell us, and when a searcher searches from a mobile device, and Google know the location of that device, the results returned “can result in much better search results for such a user.” That does make sense.

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How You May Be Helping Google Map Indoor Spaces

A couple of years ago, Google acquired the startup Behavio. One of the selling points behind Behavio was how it used behavior data from Phones to better understand human behavior. It’s likely that Google acquired the company Zipdash back in 2004 to learn about real-time traffic data.

Compass Study,  Calsidyrose, Some rights reserved
Compass Study,
Calsidyrose, Some rights reserved

A Google patent application published in the last week describes how Google might be using Mobile data from phones to map indoor spaces, combining the technologies behind Behavio, with traffic monitoring from Zipdash to better understand spaces that many people navigate through while carrying a mobile device that connects to the internet with wireless signals and carries sensor data that can indicate the location and movements of those devices.

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Is An Improved Version of Agent Rank Returning to Google?

Sometimes, I run across a patent that provides details on things that Google might do, but only hints at whether or not it might actually be implemented. A few years back in 2007, I wrote about a Google patent for Agent Rank, which described reputation scores for authors (to be used as an alternative to PageRank), and looked like an important part of Google’s social network, Google+. It was referred to in the patent as “Agent Rank” and people commenting upon it started referring to it as “Author Rank”.

It seemed like it was a good description of how some people whom you may have connected with in Google+ were showing up in response to queries they had some expertise within. There may have been issues with Google’s version of Agent Rank that the search engine wanted a second bite at. Google has since removed the Photos that were showing up for authors whom you might be connected to, who may have been highly ranked, seemingly based upon a reputation score, for a topic related to a query that you might perform.

There were people who wrote that while this authorship markup was removed, and author photos associated with it, the author rank scoring system that came with it was still around, like this Search Engine Land article: Google Authorship May Be Dead, But Author Rank Is Not.

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How Google May Answer Questions in Queries with Rich Content Results

From the query, 'How to fix a clogged sink.'
From the query, ‘How to fix a clogged sink.’

This patent application from last week describes a search system query processing for queries that are questions.

Queries may be responded to with a wide variety of resources, such as image files, audio files, video files, and web pages. A search engine may identify resources in response to queries submitted by searchers and attempt to provide information in response “in a manner that is useful to the users.”

Searchers may look for an answer to a specific question, rather than a listing of links to other pages and resources.

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Google to Map the Quality of Roads?

We’ve all read about Google working to build self-driving cars, and I’ve written about Google building Google Maps programs to help people navigate to different places.

A Google patent application published this week takes a closer look at computers in cars, and the many sensors that are connected to those, and it discusses how automotive computing systems that include such things as:

…network based applications including navigation, voice search, media streaming capabilities, and the like.

An Overview of Google's Patent Process to monitor Road Quality
An Overview of Google’s Patent Process to monitor Road Quality

The patent mentions On board diagnostics (OBD) standards in the automotive industry were made became available with engine computer systems that showed up in the 1980s.

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