Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization tips and strategies and information, from SEO by the Sea, to help make web sites easier to find.

Google Reviews: Reputation + Quality + Snippets + Clustering

You’ve likely seen reviews of businesses in Google Maps, and Seller Ratings in Froogle for merchants. For a few products listed in Google Reviews, such as MP3 players, you will also see product reviews.

I’ve written previously about the Growing power of online reviews, and wrote a detailed breakdown of a Google patent application on how they may find and aggregate online reviews.

That patent application left a lot of questions unanswered about topics such as how reviews are ranked and valued. Google has had five new patent applications published which look like they might answer some of those questions, with some interesting insights.

Tagging Content On Webpages, Print, and Television, with Yahoo’s Y!Q

A recent advertising campaign from Pontiac told viewers that if they wanted to learn more about what Pontiac had to offer them, that they should go to Google and search for Pontiac.

For the first time that I’ve seen, a patent application has done the same thing:

For additional information on “Y!Q” elements, the reader is encouraged to submit “Y!Q” as a query term to a search engine

So, what’s the big deal about this, and why is it relevant to the discussion of a couple of patent applications from Yahoo? It’s a hint at what Yahoo has planned for the way that people can find more information online for sources that they see offline.

Imagine seeing commercials on TV or in print with a Yahoo Y!Q icon on them, with a keyword or two listed along side of it. Advertisers can “rent” those keywords to have them appear in a Yahoo Y!Q search.

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Baseball, SEO, and Redirects: Throwing the Gyroball

The baseball season is almost upon us, and I’m really looking forward to the cry of “Playball” from the umpires. I also want to see Daisuke Matsuzaka, who joined the Red Sox this year, and his mythical gyroball. I’m also rooting for Josh Hamilton to turn his life around with the Cincinnati Reds.

A little over a year ago, Matt Cutts used a baseball example to talk about how search engines might handle something known as a 302 redirect.

When someone types in http://www.sfgiants.com into their browser address bar, they are taken to that page, and then redirected to another page with a much uglier address: http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=sf

That happens because the server that you visit, when you type in the sfgiants.com page, has an instruction in it to redirect visitors to the different address. There are a couple of different kinds of redirects – a temporary one, and a permanent one. The temporary one, which uses a server code of 302, is supposed to be an indication that the new address is only temporary. The permanent one uses a server code of 301.

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Yahoo Research Looks at Templates and Search Engine Indexing

There has been a tremendous amount of growth, over the past few years, of web sites that use content management systems, such as blogs, ecommerce shopping sites, wikis, and others. How might that affect how search engines index the pages of those sites?

A new Yahoo Research paper, Page-level Template Detection via Isotonic Smoothing (pdf), discusses some of the problems that exist with so many sites using templates, and a method to use to try to understand if a page is using a template. Here’s a snippet from the paper:

The increased use of content-management systems to generate webpages has significantly enriched the browsing experience of end users; the multitude of site navigation links, sidebars, copyright notices, and timestamps provide easy to access and often useful information to the users.

From an objective standpoint, however, these “template” structures pollute the content by digressing from the main topic of discourse of the webpage.

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Is Microsoft Removing Web Results When the Same Page Also Appears in Paid Results?

This is a discussion of a Microsoft patent granted today that may not have been implemented, and may never be. It’s unclearly written, but worth discussing…

When you perform a search at a search engine, the page that shows the results of your query is often referred to as a search results page.

Live.com search result page showing a paid result and a Web search result.

Search engines don’t like to show a link to the same page more than once in their search results pages – at least in the unpaid Web search part of their pages. But, most search engines also show advertisements on many search results pages, which look similar to the Web search results.

It’s also possible that a search query using multiple terms, each of which an advertiser may be bidding upon, may cause a page to show up in paid results more than once.

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Ask.com Patent on Optimizing Search Results Pages Based Upon User Activity

As a web site owner or online advertiser, it often makes good sense to look over statistics involving how people use your web site or your ads to see if pages might be changed to make them more user friendly, and increase the amount of sales or conversions that you make.

You might test different landing pages when you used paid advertising, or move different elements around on your site’s pages to see how people react to those changes.

Search engines often do the same type of thing, not only with the layout of their pages, but also with the results that they may present to searchers.

A new patent assigned to IAC Search and Media, Inc. (owners of Ask.com) describes how user data might be analyzed to help improve the look and feel of results pages, and the rankings of results, shown to users of a search engine.

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Google Patent on Extended Search Indexes

If you like taking a peek under the hood of a search engine, and seeing how it might work, a new patent granted to Google provides some interesting insights.

It describes how a search query might start at a standard index, and if there aren’t enough results within that index, look for more in an extended index to return to a searcher.

System and method for searching an extended database
Invented by Kourosh Gharachorloo, Fay Wen Chang, Deborah Anne Wallach, Sanjay Ghemawat, and Jeffrey Dean
Assigned to Google
US Patent 7,174,346
Granted February 6, 2007
Filed September 30, 2003

Abstract

Once a search query is received from a user, a standard index is searched based on the search query. The standard index forms part of a set of replicated standard indexes having multiple instances of the standard index. A signal is then determined based on the search of the standard index. When the received signal meets predefined criteria, an extended index is searched. The extended index forms part of a set of extended indexes having at least one instance of the extended index. There are fewer instances of the extended index than instances of the standard index. Extended search results are then obtained from the extended index and at least a portion of the extended search results is transmitted towards a user.

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Difficult Queries and Identifying Missing Content in Search Engines

There are times when you perform a search in a search engine, and the results just aren’t very relevant.

When you don’t get the results that you expect from a internet or intranet search engine, is it because the search engine isn’t very good, or is it because there isn’t much indexable information on the web or intranet document repository that contains content related to that search?

A new patent application discusses how the folks who run search engines might identify difficult queries where there may not be much content collected by the search engine on certain topics. The process in the patent filing provides search engines the chance to offer searchers suggestions for queries where they may find an answer to questions that they may be searching for, or to allow indexing efforts from the engines to work on filling those gaps.

The best introduction to the patent filing is probably a couple of pages from IBM which discuss the efforts of the researchers who came up with this process:

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