If I were to tell you that the major search engines have a bigger and richer database full of information than their index of the World Wide Web, would you believe me? Chances are that you’re one of the persons who helped build it. The information that Google and Bing and Yahoo collect about the searches and query sessions and clicks that searchers perform on the Web covers an incredible number of searches a day. When Google introduced their Knowledge Graph this past May, they gave us a hint of the scope and usage of this database:
For example, the information we show for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of next queries that people ask about him. In fact, some of the most serendipitous discoveries I’ve made using the Knowledge Graph are through the magical “People also search for” feature.
When someone performs a search for a query that doesn’t produce much results at Google or Bing, the search engines might remove some of the query terms to provide more results, or they might look for synonyms that might help fill the same or a similar informational need. But chances are that such approaches still might not produce the kinds of results that searchers want to see.
Continue reading How Search Engines Might Use Knowledge Base Information for Underserved Queries
Can the quality of links that your pages or videos or other documents link to influence the ranking of your pages, based upon a reachability score? A newly granted patent from Google describes how the search engine might look at linked documents and other resources reachable from a page or video or image to determine such a reachability score.
Search rankings might be promoted (boosted) or demoted in search results for a query based upon that reachability score calculated based upon a number of different factors.
Someone clicks on a search result, and while there they find links to other resources that they might click upon. Different user behaviors recorded by a search engine might be monitored to determine how people interact with the first, or primary resource visited, and similar user behavior signals may also be looked at for pages or videos or other resources linked to from that resource. Reachability scores might also be calculated for those secondary resources linked to from the first resource, looking at the third or tertiary pages and other resources linked to from the secondary resources.
Calculating reachability scores may follow a process like the following:
Continue reading Does Google Use Reachability Scores in Ranking Resources?
Imagine that a search engine might insert place markers into a web page, perhaps with the use of something like the new Google Tag Manager? These markers could enable a search engine to calculate how long it might take someone to read that page. A newly granted patent from Google describes why they might insert such markers (without really telling how how it might insert those), to determine the reading speed of a page.
The process described by the patent might try to understand how different features associated with a page might cause it to take less time or more time for a visitor to read a page. It would then use that understanding to predict how such features might influence the reading of other pages that don’t have markers inserted into them. These types of features could include language, layout, topic, and the length of text of those documents. These are all things that could affect traffic across the web or at specific websites.
Continue reading Is Google Measuring Our Reading Speed of Web Documents?
I’m on the second day of a trip to New York City, giving presentations at SMX East on both the potential impact of mobile devices to the future of search, and on how reputation and authority signals might impact the rankings and visibility of authors and publishers and commentors on the Web.
My first presentation was in the “local and mobile” mobile track of the conference as part of a session titled “Meet Siri: Apple’s Google Killer?” where I joined Bryson Meunier, Will Scott, Andrew Shotland, and moderator Greg Sterling in discussing the potential impact of Apple’s Siri and voice search on SEO and search.
When I read the title for this proposed session a couple of months back, I couldn’t help but start to draft a pitch to join in on the conversation. I’ve been carefully watching patents and papers from Google and Apple and others about inventions and interfaces that might transform the way we search in the future, and the way that people might share information and market businesses online.
Continue reading Spoken and Visual Queries The Future of Search?
Google is experimenting with including emails in your search results. Of course, the emails you see will be personal to you, and won’t be shared with others. The emails will only be the ones that you received via Gmail, and the service is opt-in only. The announcement was made on August 8th, in the Google Official Blog post, Building the search engine of the future, one baby step at a time
Chances are that the rankings used to decide which emails to show, and the order of those emails is probably very similar to the importance rankings used to display different colored markers on your emails in Gmail. One of the good things about those importance ranking markers is that if you want, you can search and filter your Gmail emails by them if you want, as well as using other advanced search filters. But we don’t know exactly if the search from Gmail provides the same kind of ranking and results as the search results you might see when GMails are integrated into Google Web search.
Continue reading GMail Rank and the Importance of Good Subject Lines
For many search queries, very recent search results (such as from the last 6-12 hours) are preferred over older and more stale results that might rank well based upon popularity signals, including significant past user traffic that might cause them to have been assigned a high ranking. That may work fine if you think of search engines as a repository of pages that might be relevant as references, like a library.
But with the Web becoming a place where people frequently tweet social networking updates, with news sources striving to be the first to publish about breaking topics, bloggers publishing on new topics, merchants offering new products and discounting old ones, and other content online appearing with an emphasis on freshness, search engines are becoming increasingly a near real-time monitor of the World around us.
Continue reading Indexing Recent Content in Search Engines
Search engines look at Relevance and its dynamic nature in ranking web pages. But there’s another element that’s important to consider when looking at how pages are ranked and ordered.
Materiality and Evidence
When evidence is introduced into a civil or criminal case, a judge not only weighs how relevant that evidence might be before it’s turned over to a jury, or before he or she considers it. The judge also decides how material that evidence might be.
For example, a defense attorney might try to introduce good character reference testimony in a case while defending a 30 year-old accused of murder. The testimony is relevant because it’s about the defendent. It goes to show something about him that a finder of facts might find useful. But, what if the person being offered to testify is the defendant’s kindergarden teacher? What if the teachers testimony is about how the defendant would always take his naps on time, played well with the other kids, and never showed signs of anger. While relevant, the testimony just really isn’t material. As testimony about the defendent from around 25 years earlier, it just isn’t that important.
A judge may also look at other factors in deciding whether evidence is material or important enough to enter into a case. One of these is called judicial economy. As an example, let’s say that our accused murderer from the last paragraph committed his crime in the middle of the infield at Yankee stadium in front of a crowd of 50,000 baseball fans. Almost everyone in attendence witnessed the crime. But you won’t see all 50,000 being summons to appear in court to testify. Their testimony is relevant, and material, but it doesn’t serve the best interests of justice to have that many people testifying if they are all going to give substantially the same testimony.
Continue reading On Materiality and Search Engines
Relevance matters to each of us on a daily basis. It enables us to focus upon the things that are important in our lives. It’s something that each of us learns about everyday, and have been since around the time that we first learned to crawl, but not necessarily consciously.
Relevance and Evidence
I first began purposefully studying relevance a number of years ago, but not to help websites show up in search engines. My introduction to relevance as something I needed to learn, and needed to learn well, came in law school, in classes like Evidence and Criminal and Civil Procedure. In Evidence, we spend the class learning about the rules of evidence. The test for relevance under the Federal Rules of Evidence is:
(a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and
(b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.
Continue reading On Relevance and Search Engines