How Google May Classify Pages Using Hierarchical Categories in URLs

Google was granted an updated version of a patent this week that looks at how the search engine might use directories in URL structures to help it better understand the categories on a Web site, and to categorize new pages and directories that might be added to a site. The patent tells us that this might enable the search engine to add supplemental information to pages, such as advertisements that fall within the categories displayed upon the site.

Some other patents I’ve written about in the past shows that the search engines might be doing more with categories than just deciding upon which ads to show on a page

Imagine that you have a site about car parts, and you decided to organize the pages of the site first by car make, so the main categories on your site are different brands, and your second level of directories is organized by car models. You might then have sub-sub-categories that are organized by different systems within cars, such as “electrical,” “transmission,” “cooling,” “suspension,” and so on. URLs for a couple of your pages might look like:

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Context is King: Google Parameterless Searches

In the very near future, you may be able to perform searches at Google without bothering to type or speak a query. Instead, you might be able to just shake your phone, or hold down a button for a certain amount of time, and tell your phone something like “search now”. Known as parameterless searches, this type of search can depend upon the context within which the search is performed.

Screenshot from the patent showing someone shaking a phone, context information for that search, and a search result

For instance, imagine being driven to work at 50mph, and you shake your phone. It tells you that there’s congestion ahead, and offers an alternative route.Or it shows you a map with color-coded traffic information for different streets nearby according to traffic conditions. Or, you may have an appointment with a client made by email and included on your calendar, and you want to find and check the email to make sure that you have the right phone number. It could show the number and offer to make the call on your behalf. If you regularly take a train at around 8:00 am on weekday mornings, shaking your phone at 7:50 am might trigger a realtime schedule for the rails.

Context information for a parameterless search could include things such as:

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Google Plus as Tomorrow’s Social Ebay?

Will Google Plus morph into a social version of eBay, where people can post things for sale, write reviews of their belongings and show them off to their circles?

A few days ago, the Google File System Blog reported upon a new application from Google, which it referred to by the name Google Mine (as in, “it’s mine,” rather than as in Google mining more information about your life). The post also mentions a version for Android on Google’s internal Play store. The post tells us that the app allows you to be pretty active about posting your belongings.

A screenshot from the patent showing the user interface for showing off your belongings.

As you can see, the service lets you enter a lot of information about your objects. For example, you can change the status of an object to “lent”, “given away”, “got it back”, “lost it”, “had in the past”. You can post videos about the object, write reviews, add it to a wishlist and maybe others can buy it using Google Shopping. You can also check popular items and the items others have shared.

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Google Patents on Author Signature Values and Authority Scores

Last week, Google was granted a number of patents exploring different aspects of how documents on the Web might be ranked in part based upon topics identified for those documents and the expertise and/or authority of authors involved in the creation of the documents. The process also describes how Google might use different methods to determine the authority of multiple authors who may have worked to create the documents.

This sounds very similar to some statements that Google’s Matt Cutts made at the start of May in a video about What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?

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George Bush is a Miserable Failure Again, in Google’s Knowledge Base

I’ve written about Google Bombs in the past, and how a bio page featuring President George Bush ranked highly on a search for “Miserable Failure” as a result of a Google Bomb, in a post from 2011 titled How a Search Engine Might Fight Googlebombing.

In a post from earlier today, Nemek Nowaczyk wrote a post Google Bombing the Knowledge Graph: Who’s a Liar? He noticed that on a search for “liar” (in Polish), Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk appears in the knowledge base results for the search. Nemek sent me an email with a link to his post. Within seconds, I was typing one of the better known English language Google bomb phrases into a Google search, with a guess as to what I would see there.

knowledge-base-result-miserable-failure

Ok, so the top knowledge base result on a search for “miserable failure” wasn’t George Bush. But a smiling George Bush was close enough to be a “see results about” disambiguation knowledge panel result.

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Google Files Patent for Understanding Multiple URLs for the Same Page

The great thing about HTML is that it’s so flexible and offers so many ways to do things. The worst thing about HTML is that it’s so flexible and offers so many ways to do things. I’ve looked at a lot of websites and I still see people doing things new ways.

An issue that’s often common to many websites is when a page on a site can be found at more than one URL. This might be done by a site owner for a number of reasons, and in a number of ways. It might be an issue related to a content management system that’s being used as well.

A patent application published by Google explores how the search engine might recognize when it finds a URL through a web crawl and another URL through a feed, such as a product feed, with both URLs referring to the same page, but those URLs are structured differently.

This seems like potentially a lot of work to me, and the patent filing has me shaking my head that Google might use resources to figure out duplicated content on a site, even if it potentially might enable the search engine to understand URLs and associated products and other information that it might identify better.

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How Google May Rank Web Sites Based on Quality Ratings

Google was granted a patent this week that describes how web sites might be given quality ratings, based upon a model that looks at human ratings for a sample set of sites, and web site signals from those sites.

The patent tells us that the advantage of such an approach would be to:

  • Provide greater user satisfaction with search engines
  • Return sites having a higher quality rating than a certain threshold
  • Ranking sites appearing in search results based upon quality
  • Identifying quality sites without having a human view the site first

This patent was originally filed in 2008, and the use of quality signals sound similar to what Google has shared with us regarding the Panda Update. It’s more of a search quality “improvement” than a web spam penalty.

The patent uses blogs as a type of site that it can be applied to within its claims and description section. One of the inventors, Christopher C. Pennock was a Senior Software Engineer on Google Blog Search, according to an early 2009 SMX Session with him which discusses ranking signals in Blog Search.

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Avoiding Misinformation While Learning from Search Related Patents

On May 1st, Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts published a video in his series of Google Webmaster Help videos, answering the question, “What’s the latest SEO misconception that you would like to put to rest?”

For some reason, Matt decided to focus upon patents, with a video about people possibly placing too much faith in what is uncovered in patents related to search engines. To a degree, I agree with his response, but I was reached out to by a number of people who saw the video as something aimed specifically at me, since I write about search related patents so often. I felt that I had no choice but to respond. Here’s the video from Matt:

Jennifer Slegg gave me a chance to respond to Matt’s video, in her post, Matt Cutts Tells SEOs to Stop Worrying About Google Search Patents, and I appreciate her letting me say a few words there, but I wondered if it was enough. I reached out to Matt on Twitter, and he provided some of his thoughts about the video there:

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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines