Ending Gridlock with Google Driving Assistance (Zipdash Re-Emerges)

Can Google provide us with a new approach to how we commute to and from work, and travel to other destinations?

It’s something that they appear to be working upon.

In one of my previous lines of employment, I had a twenty minute commute that often took closer to an hour, based upon traffic.

One approach was to take public transportation, which was very convenient because the place to catch the bus was nearby both home and work, but this took a fairly long time. Another was to leave early in the morning to avoid the crush of traffic, and to take less traveled alternative routes in the evening. Leaving early meant arriving early, but it was better than sitting in traffic. Taking alternative routes sometimes resulted in surprising delays, and travel times that weren’t significant improvements.

Imagine being able to quickly and easily gauge how much traffic was on different routes at different times, and to be provided with viable alternative routes. That’s the focus of a new patent application from Google.

Transportation routing
Inventors: Henry Rowley and Shumeet Baluja
US Patent Application 20060149461
Assigned to Google
Published July 6, 2006
Filed December 31, 2004

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New Papers at Google Labs

From the nice-to-finally-see-an-update department, comes news that Google has updated the list of papers from Googlers over at Google Labs.

The good folks over at ResourceShelf noted the appearance of new papers over there earlier today. Sadly, many of the papers listed aren’t available, but instead link to Google searches for the names of the documents.

A New Personalized Recommendation System

One paper that is available, and looks to be worth a look is Retroactive Answering of Search Queries, (pdf) from Beverly Yang and Glen Jeh, which was presented at the WWW 2006, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Become Explores Spring Networks to Rank Pages and Avoid Spam

It’s fun to see something interesting come from a search engine that isn’t one of the big names.

A new patent application from Become, Inc., looks at links in a different way, so that while links play a role in the rankings of pages, not every link holds the same value.

The summary of the patent points out some of the problems with on page factors analysis and link structure analysis. They also write about the “artificial web,” which involves the use of scripts to write:

…millions or billions of simple web pages that contain links to a few websites to be promoted. As the number of these artificial web pages can be comparable to that of the major portion of the real Web, the spammers can wield undue influence in manipulating the link structure of the entire Web, thereby affecting the computation of PageRank.

We’ve seen this “artificial web” as a significant issue recently with Google, as reported on Search Engine Watch in Google Yanks Sites 5 Billion Pages After Spam Complaint. Does Become.com have a solution to this type of problem?

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Google’s Holy Grail of Shopping?

Sometimes patent filings from the search engines don’t describe some hidden algorithm or behind-the scenes-technology, but instead detail a whole new way of doing business. Here’s one such document published yesterday by Google that looks at shopping for products and services in a completely different manner.

Keep in mind that previously, Google’s product and shopping services have included Froogle, Google Catalogs, and Google Local. If something like what is described here is developed, it could change around the way many people shop.

This patent filing expands upon those offerings in a dramatic manner, from assistance inside of stores, restaurants, resorts, travel terminals and others, through driving and walking directions that tell you about sales and promotions at the end point of the trip, and along the way. It allows stores to dynamically offer promotions across a chain, or manually enter specials at specific locations.

Generating and/or serving dynamic promotional offers such as coupons and advertisements
Inventors: Ashutosh Garg and Allen Romero
US Patent Application 20060143080
Published June 29, 2006
Filed December 29, 2004

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New Blog On Information Retrieval

I’d like to welcome Dr. E. Garcia to the world of blogging.

I met Dr. E. Garcia at the New York Search Engine Strategies in March of 2005, and he spent a number of hours with me and Ian McAnerin one night explaining some of how Information Retrieval can be helpful to people who are involved with marketing on the web. I think that we stayed up until 2:00 or 3:00 am in the hotel lobby, surrounded by Venn Diagrams drawn out on bar napkins, showing how search engines treat different types of queries differently, and how similar queries can be compared to each other using information retrieved from the search engines.

Dr. Garcia sent me an email yesterday, telling me that he has just started a blog, IR Thoughts. He’s written a couple of posts in the first two days of the blog’s existence – an introduction, and a post on the vector space model. His site also has a number of very good tutorials on Information Retrieval, focusing on providing information for Information Retrieval Students and Search Engine Marketers.

I’d also recommend very highly Dr. Garcia’s article on keyword density, titled The Keyword Density of Non-Sense.

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How to Personalize Web Search

When you perform a search on one of the major search engines for a particular query, and when I perform the same search, chances are that we will see the same pages appearing on the search results pages. Then again, we may not. Chances are also good that in the future, the results that each of us sees will be different.

One of the areas that many in academia, and at commercial search engines are exploring is how to personalize web search.

We see that most visibly in the personalized search pages that the major search engines have released. They explain how to receive personalized searches on the following pages:

Google Help Center – Personalizing your search results

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Content Planning for Search Engine Optimization

This post doesn’t describe the actual creation of content for a site, from an SEO stance, but it does detail some of the planning and steps that can be taken to help in the process.

It also doesn’t discuss some of the technical aspects of SEO that should be planned for to make a site easier to be found by search engines. But it does provide a number of questions that may make it easier for someone who is considering optimizing their site for search engines as they are putting together content for the pages of their site.

One of my favorite articles of the past few years on design is a Digital Web article from 2003 by G.A. Buchholz, titled A Content Requirements Plan (CRP) helps Web designers take a leadership role.

I think that part of the planning of the content of a site also should include an awareness of search engines, and a knowledge of some SEO goals. Those goals aren’t too difficult to keep in mind when it comes to creating the words for a site, but are definitely worth considering:

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Should Search Engines Help Searchers Avoid Malicious Sites?

How safe are search engines? One recent answer might surprise you.

Back in May, Ben Edelman wrote about Search Engine Safety. In part, he was writing about how search engine paid advertising for some products, like screensavers, may lead to sites that would put spyware on the computers of visitors who download the screensavers. He wrote more on that practice in a January post titled Pushing Spyware through Search

He was also announcing a study that he had worked on with McAfee, about The Safety of Internet Search Engines. If you missed this report in May, it’s worth a visit. It discusses the safety of organic results through search engines, as well as paid results.

What’s a search engine to do?

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Getting Information about Search, SEO, and the Semantic Web Directly from the Search Engines