Many patent filings and papers from the search engines discuss ways that they might shuffle around search results to try to provide more relevant responses to people’s searches.
Imagine a search engine changing around the results that you see, not based upon the time that a page is published, but rather on some estimate of the importance of a page to you, and how that importance might vary with time and your personal calendar. Sounds like a tricky proposition, doesn’t it?
Microsoft adds an element of time to search results by introducing a search system that pays more attention to what is happening on your computer and within your company intranet.
This more complex search system could be used to index both search results and information found on a person’s desktop and local network. The search system would pay more attention to the context of searches and add personalization to those searches by building a user profile to distinquish how important different information might be to each individual searcher.
When you start typing a query into the search box at Yahoo, you’ll see a dropdown appear under the search box with some suggestions predicting queries that you may want to see Web search results even before you finish typing.
But presently you only see those suggestions for Web search results. I wrote about those Yahoo search suggestions in Predictive Queries versus Unique Searches.
It would be interesting to see suggestions from some of Yahoo’s other databases appearing, such as image search or local search.
A couple of recent patent applications from Yahoo, related to the “predictive queries” patent filing, explore showing how the context of a search and historic search patterns may cause suggestions from other search databases.
I write a lot about patents and white papers from search engines, and sometimes the subjects covered in those documents can get technical pretty quickly.
I encourage people who are just starting out in SEO to leave comments, and ask questions, but I know that sometimes a closer look at some of the basics may be what visitors here might be looking for.
Fortunately, there are a lot of flavors of blogs focusing upon search engine optimization and internet marketing, and my blog roll is filled with blogs from people taking many different approaches, from different perspectives.
A friend of mine, Kimberly Bock, has a compelling blog focusing primarily upon Responsible Networking (no longer available).
Some recent recommended posts from Kim include:
Not too long ago, if you entered in Google the phrase (without quotation marks) “a room with a view,” you might have received some warnings that your query contained “Stop Words.”
Stop words are words that appear so frequently in documents and on web pages that search engines would often ignore them when indexing the words on pages. These could be words like: a, and, is, on, of, or, the, was, with.
Good bye to stop words?
In that search for “a room with a view,” you might have received results like “a room for a view,” or “room to view,” or other phrases that replaced some stop words with others. That made it less likely to find exactly what you were looking for when you searched for a phrase with stop words in it.
Choosing the right character set for your web page might mean that it is easier for a search engine to understand what language your page is in, though there are also other ways that it might be able to determine that.
But, what about when someone types in a query?
- How does a search engine know what language a search query might be in?
- How does it handle queries in different languages made on devices that might not be capable of creating some special characters outside of the latin alphabet?
Also, do webpages that use a certain charater set (something that webmasters can choose in their HTML for a page) stand a better chance of having the language that they use be identified more easily by a search engine?
A new Microsoft patent application has some interesting statements within it about blogs. First it tells us of the value of blogs and blogging:
Blogging has grown rapidly on the internet over the last few years. Weblogs, referred to as blogs, span a wide range, from personal journals read by a few people, to niche sites for small communities, to widely popular blogs frequented by millions of visitors, for example.
Collectively, these blogs form a distinct subset of the internet known as blogspace, which is increasingly valuable as a source of information for everyday users.
Then it goes on to tell us that search engines work to limit results from blogs in searches, and the difficulties that search engines sometimes have in identifying blogs:
There are often three pieces of information about pages displayed in search results to searchers in response to a search:
- Page title,
- The URL where that page can be found, and;
- A summary of the page in the form of a snippet or snippets, taken from either a meta description tag, or a description of the page from a directory like the DMOZ, or actual text from the page itself.
One mystery involving search engines involves how a snippet might be generated when it is taken from a page.
How does a search engine use information from anchor text in links pointed to pages?
Why and how do some pages get crawled more frequently than others?
How might links that use permanent and temporary redirects be treated differently by a search engine?
A newly granted patent from Google, originally filed in 2003, explores these topics, and provides some interesting answers, and even some surprising ones.
Of course, this is a patent, and may not necessarily describe the actual processes in use by Google. It is possible that they are being used, or were at one point in time, but there has been plenty of time since the patent was filed for changes to be made to the processes described.
It has long been observed and understood that different pages on the web get indexed at different rates, and that anchor text in hyperlinks pointing to pages can influence what a page may rank for in search results.