Category Archives: Local SEO and Maps

Cancelled Invasive Google Here Program Patent Application

This morning, I ran across the news article Google reportedly kills plan to let retailers send notifications in Maps, and I knew exactly what the story was about, without reading past the headline, because I had noticed a patent application that came out on the 20th that described the program in question.

google-beacons

As the story tells us, Larry Page shut the program down after being concerned over how invasive it was. It would offer phone owners notices in Google Maps seconds after they entered a store that had electronic beacons set up in their store. After reading about the cancellation, I thought to share the patent so that you could learn what that was about. The patent is:

Automated Learning of Store Topography Using In-Store Location Signals
Invented by: Matthew Nicholas Stuttle, Salvatore Scellato
US Patent Application 20150237463
Published August 20, 2015
Filed: February 14, 2014

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Uber Assigns Nine Mapping Patents to Microsoft

On June 23, 2015 Uber Technologies assigned 9 patents to Microsoft, in a transaction that was recorded at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 18, 2015.

These patents and their abstracts are listed below, and they link to full copies; all of them are related to Mapping, which was an area that Microsoft was supposedly going to be outsourcing to other companies, including Uber. I haven’t seen anything anywhere else that explains this transaction or says anything about the cost behind it.

I tried making sense of it by looking at articles about Uber and Microsoft, but they seemed to show a good relationship between the companies:

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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.

The patent tells us that current approaches to determine indoor locations of mobile devices are based on interior scans of wireless access points. Theses scans could be used to build a database that can model an indoor space by determining locations of the access points and their corresponding signal strengths at those locations. To create a database like this, an indoor wireless location provider would have to conduct site surveys at selected locations.

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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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Google Maps Using Photos to Identify Spam?

A couple of interesting patent applications surfaced at Google recently, involving the use of photography in Local Search, to identify whether or not businesses actually exist, or might be closed, or might be Web Spam.

Google Street View Car
Google Street View Car in Bristol, Byrion Smith, Some rights reserved

The first of these looks at Street Views images, and is:

Systems and Methods of Correlating Business Information to Determine Spam, Closed Businesses, and Ranking Signals
Inventors: Andrea Frome, Howard Wellington Trickey, Melanie Clements, Ethan G. Russell, Paul Eastlund, Diego Ariel Gertzenstein, Douglas Richard Grundman, Baris Yuksel
Assigned to: Google, Inc.
US Patent Application 20150154607
Published June 4, 2015
Filed: February 24, 2011

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How Google Finds ‘Known For’ Terms for Entities

Google finds terms and phrases to associate with entities that can be considered terms of interest for businesses, locations, and other entities. These terms can influence what shows up in search results and in knowledge panels for those entities. Consider it part of a growing knowledge base of concepts, entities, attributes for entities, and keywords that shape the new Google after Hummingbird. Semantics play a role as things that specific entities are known for are identified.

The Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, Virginia

For example, the Warrenton, Virginia, Red Truck Bakery (local to me) is known for:

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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.

A screenshot from the patent that shows the different parts of a ranking system for local search that includes directions and reviews.

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How Google May Diversify Search Results by Merging Local and Web Search Results

Google has come under fire the last year or so from critics who claim that the search engine has been providing too many pages from some of the same domains in search results. It appears that this has had them looking at ways that they could provide more diversity within those results. A patent granted to Google earlier this year describes one approach that could have an impact on both local search rankings and Web rankings for authority pages for business entities.

The impact of this approach would be that when these authority pages ranked highly in both Web results and local search results, Google might merge listings for the two, so that the Web search result no longer appears within search results for a specific query and the local search result is potentially boosted higher in results as well.

In the past, I’ve written about How Google Universal Search and Blended Results May Work, describing how Google might decide when and where to include multiple listings within Web search results from different vertical search types, such as local results, images, news articles, videos, and others. Each of these different types of results might be ranked based upon their relevance to a query, and might be included within results based upon how meaningful those results might be to the query and the intent of a searcher.

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