Category Archives: Local SEO and Maps

How Google May Respond to Reverse Engineering of Spam Detection

The ultimate goal of any spam detection system is to penalize “spammy” content.

~ Reverse engineering circumvention of spam detection algorithms (Linked to below)

Four years ago, I wrote a post about a Google patent titled, The Google Rank-Modifying Spammers Patent. It told us that Google might be keeping an eye out for someone attempting to manipulate search results by spaming pages, and Google may delay responding to someone’s manipulative actions to make them think that whatever actions they were taking didn’t have an impact upon search results. That patent focused upon organic search results, and Google’s Head of Web Spam Matt Cutts responded to my post with a video in which he insisted that just because Google produced a patent on something doesn’t mean that they were going to use it. The video is titled, “What’s the latest SEO misconception that you would like to put to rest? ” Matt’s response is as follows:

I’m not sure how effective the process in that patent was, but there is a now a similar patent from Google that focuses upon rankings of local search SEO results. The patent describes this spam problem in this way:

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Do Search Click-Throughs Help Determine Whether a Page Appears in Google Search Results?

In a recent article at Search Engine Land we were told that Google Posts That Local Results Are Influenced By Clicks, Then Deletes That. It caught my attention, and had me investigating further.

Patents Involving Clicks Influencing Search Results

It made me recall three patents which described when clicks might influence whether or not pages appeared for certain queries.

The first patent I wrote about in a post titled Google Patents Click-Through Feedback on Search Results to Improve Rankings. The patent that post was about was Modifying search result ranking based on a temporal element of user feedback

Google User Feedback Relevance

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Google Fights Keyword Stuffed Business Names Using a Surprisingness Value

A Google patent granted this week targets map spammers, who submit information about businesses to Google Maps, in a manner referred to as keyword stuffing.

The patent attempts to find words submitted by business owners as titles for businesses names that trigger a surprisingness value for combinations of words within a business title to determine whether a business listing is legitimate or fraudulent.

Traditionally, in Google Maps, the ranking signals used by business listings to include those businesses in search results depend upon their distance from a searcher, how prominent a business might be on the web, and how relevant the title for a business might be to the query used in a search to find the business.

When someone searches for a business. Google Maps may show off prominent businesses based on the searcher’s location. This patent targets people who might use that information to attract people to unrelated websites, by faking information in business listings. This patent targets people trying to take advantage of the use of well-known businesses located in a specific area:

Continue reading Google Fights Keyword Stuffed Business Names Using a Surprisingness Value

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.


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:

Continue reading Uber Assigns Nine Mapping Patents to Microsoft

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

Continue reading Google Maps Using Photos to Identify Spam?