How Google Might Determine Web Page Categories

Six years ago, Google started showing sitelinks for the top results for many queries. In a recent Google live experiment, Google started showing expanded sitelinks in search results with tabs above those sitelinks showing categories. These experimental results were written about last week by the team at SEO Consult, in the post Google’s New SERP Test: Tabular Mega Sitelinks.

In my last post, I asked the question Will Google Add Categories to Search Results, and Let You Edit Them? I didn’t anticipate Google testing web page categories within their presentation of sitelinks though. I did notice an interesting new version of an older Google patent published as a pending patent application on categories for AdSense-type advertisements.

The continuation patent filing had a fresh new claims section that detailed how Google might interpret the web page categories for purposes of showing AdSense advertisements. That process might not be the exact method that Google might classify web page categories for purposes of sitelinks, or even for the explicit categories that Google could potentially show in search results to enable searchers to limit the results of their queries based upon clicking on those categories. But it does show some possibilities of how Google might classify web pages.

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Would Google Offer Embedded Search Links to Site Owners?

There are a number of advertising services on the Web that offer contextual search link sevices, which identify terms on a site and embed links within them pointing to advertisers’ pages. A Google patent granted earlier this week describes a way that web site publishers could identify parts of their pages that they would allow links on from Google, which would point to Google search results pages.

This system could be set up so that if someone clicks on one of those links, and chooses an advertisment, the owner of the page the link appears upon might receive compensation based upon the visitor’s click.

The patent is:

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How Facebook Might Track Topics Supplied by Advertisers and Display Member Demographics Associated with those Topics

Is Facebook planning on sharing information about the words that people use on the site in messages, and demographics about the people behind those messages? A couple of patent applications published today at the US Patent and Trademark Office describe how the social network might analyze the messages of members, to identify popular topics and the words that co-occur in messages that contain references to those topics. They also describe how demographic information supplied by members might be used to graph those topics.

The following images are a couple of examples of one way that kind of information might be displayed (click on the images to see larger versions). The first displays mentions of President Obama from messages dating back 14 days from July 21, 2008, along with many of the most popular words or phrases that accompanied those messages, as well as information about what percentage of those mentions came from males graphed against the average age of those members. Topics displayed by this system can cover a wide range of topics included in Facebook messages, as the second image shows mentioning “Hip hop,” along with popular terms included in those messages.

click for larger version

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A Time and Season for Search: How Data Mining Can Influence Search Advertising

With more than 3 billion search queries a month, a search engine like Yahoo might be tempted to take a close look at, and analyze the data it receives in its search logs. That data might tell it what people tend to search for at different times of the day, and different days of the year. The search engine may also be able to tell sometimes whether those searches were performed by men or women, by people in different locations, and may look at other information they might have about those searchers.

That analysis, that collection of data, might be helpful in deciding what to show searchers in advertisements, and in other content displayed to people looking for information.

A flow chart showing different kinds of user data that could be analyzed to identify popular products and concepts that could be used to target advertising and the display of content on the Web.

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How What you Tweet, Tag, or Blog May Determine What Ads You See

In my last post, I wrote about a patent application describing how Yahoo might come out with a widget that could be used with blogs, to recommend old posts on those blogs based upon your lifestreaming activities.

It appears that Yahoo may have even grander and more financially motivated intentions behind collecting information about how you blog, tweet, tag images, and leave other footprints on the Web about your life and interests.

Imagine Yahoo crawling the Web and grabbing information from APIs and feeds published by other sites that provide information about the movies you rent, the reviews that you publish, the pictures that you tag, and the sites that you bookmark. Along with your tweets, your status updates, and your other activities on the Web, this information could be used to build a profile of your actions online.

That profile might then be used to determine which banner ads, job postings, and other advertisements that you may be shown.

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