Last week, Google was granted a number of patents exploring different aspects of how documents on the Web might be ranked in part based upon topics identified for those documents and the expertise and/or authority of authors involved in the creation of the documents. The process also describes how Google might use different methods to determine the authority of multiple authors who may have worked to create the documents.
This sounds very similar to some statements that Google’s Matt Cutts made at the start of May in a video about What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?
On May 1st, Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts published a video in his series of Google Webmaster Help videos, answering the question, “What’s the latest SEO misconception that you would like to put to rest?”
For some reason, Matt decided to focus upon patents, with a video about people possibly placing too much faith in what is uncovered in patents related to search engines. To a degree, I agree with his response, but I was reached out to by a number of people who saw the video as something aimed specifically at me, since I write about search related patents so often. I felt that I had no choice but to respond. Here’s the video from Matt:
A transformation was triggered at Google with their announcement of the Knowledge Graph in the Official Google Blog post, Introducing the Knowledge Graph: things, not strings. That transformation was one less concerned with matching keywords, and more concerned with matching concepts, understanding entities, and bringing knowledge about entities to searchers in knowledge panels next to search results.
Google published a patent application last week that describes the knowledge panels that appear next to search results as part of the new knowledge graph. Here’s the video that accompanied the post (note the reference to a “panel” in the presentation):
I originally wrote the following article 6 years ago, and it was published on Search Engine Land on February 9th, 2007. At the time, I wasn’t sure if we would ever see Google find a way to meld together ranking signals from PageRank and Information Retrieval with relevance signals from authors and publishers and commentators and editors and advertisers.
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about something being referred to as Author Rank with the launch of Google Plus. The Agent Rank patent itself was granted by the USPTO on July 21, 2009. Two continuation versions of the patent were also filed by Google since then, with one stressing the portability of reputation scores for agents, and the other pointing out that not all endorsements from Agents are equal.
I hope that we never do see an “Author Rank,” but would prefer the Agent Rank described in the first patent, where the reputation scores of all of the people who put together the content of a page played a role in the ranking of that page.
If you’re interested in discussing Agent Rank today, I’m one of the moderators in the Google Plus Community Google Authorship & Author Rank. Stop on by, join if you’d like, and become part of the community.
On September 8, 2011, Google filed a patent named “System and Method for Confirming Authorship of Documents,” (U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/532,511). This provisional patent expired on September 9, 2012 without being prosecuted. A day later, on September 10th, Google filed two new versions of the patent, using the same name for both of them. Google’s Othar Hansson’s name appears on both as lead inventor, and the description sections are substantially similar, with a couple of very small changes.
The claims sections of the two patents are different, however. The first patent application (US20130066970) describes a link based approach to claiming authorship of a site, or being a contributor to that site. The second patent application (US20130066971) describes an email based method of claiming authorship (or of being a contributor).
The approaches described in both patent filings appear to be substantially similar to the instructions that Google describes in their help pages starting at Author information in search results
In 2006, Google battled Yahoo! and Microsoft for an algorithm developed by an Israeli Ph.D.student in Australia. The algorithm had a semantic element to it, and advanced Google in an algorithm arms race between the search giants (one of which doesn’t even have a search engine of its own now). We’ve seen the technology described in terms of how it is displayed in search results, but not how it does what it does. Until now.
Google was awarded a patent this week that looks at search results for specific queries and the entities that appear within them, to produce query refinements. This invention is from Google, but the lead inventor behind it was part of a bidding war between Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft. In 2009, the breakthrough was made public on Google in the form of Orion technology.
The Orion approach involved both extended snippets for queries (three or more lines of descriptive snippet instead of two for some longer queries), and “more and better query refinements.” How this technology is displayed is described in a Google Official Blog post from March 24, 2009 titled Two new improvements to Google results pages.
It doesn’t do any good to rank well in search results if no one clicks through.
If you go to Google Webmaster tools, and see the list of queries a page of yours might rank well for, you might see some query terms or phrases that you want to show up in search results. Webmaster Tools will show you how many “search impressions” your page might receive, as well as how many people have clicked on it when they have seen it. So what if your page has received 10,000 search impressions for that term or phrase, but only 50 clicks?
One question you should probably ask yourself is if the term or phrase is one that is satisfied by your page.
Sometimes a query term has more than one meaning, and most people searching for it might be looking for a different meaning. For example, you create a page about Java the drink, and most searchers may be looking for the programming language.