Google Autolink Patent

A patent application filed at the end of last week appeared to describe how Google Autolink worked – Providing useful information associated with an item in a document.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office assignment database shows that this document was assigned to Google in December of 2004, but, as close as it seemed to describe how autolink worked, I wasn’t completely convinced.

At least until I looked closer at the “figures” filed with the document. Note the “autolink” button on the bottom toolbar in the picture of a browser window below.

A browser window, with a Google Autolink button from the patent application.

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User Behaviour: Deletion Predictions

Many of the searches conducted on a search engine involve using more than one word in a query, and search engines pay attention to which words are being used. And, it’s possible that they are tracking and counting those words used in queries, as well as which pages are selected as a result of that search.

But search engines can pay attention to more than just the words being used. They can also look at user behavior from one search to another.

The Importance of Deleted Query Terms

Imagine that a Yahoo or a Google is watching and connecting how a searcher acts in a string of searches. Someone performs a search that involves more than one word, looks at the results, and then deletes one of the search terms, and searches again. The searcher then selects a result from that second search. What does that tell the search engine about the original search query, the deleted term, and the result chosen?

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Thanks to David Laws

You may have noticed some tweaks to the design of SEO by the Sea over the last day or so.

I have David Laws, of 1 Cog, to thank for doing some fine tuning of the CSS file here. David graciously volunteered his services to make those changes primarily to make links stand out a little more than they had in the past.

He also made some changes to colors for parts of the blog. I’m not sure that I initially liked the highlighting on links that had been visited, but they’ve been growing on me this morning.

Thank you very much, David.

On a related topic, I updated the version of “Did You Pass Math”, which had at least two important changes. One was that it now allows trackbacks, which were broken under the old version. The other is that it moves the question and the field for an answer to the top of the comment form.

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How Google Manages Large Amounts of Data?

If you get excited over thoughts of how large amounts of data may flow from one part of a network to another, with multiple master and slave machines, you might find getting a glimpse of how Google might handle infomation interesting. A patent application published yesterday may provide some ideas on how Google shares terabytes of information across a very widely distributed network.

The inventor listed in this document is Arvind Jain, who is the the Centre Head of Research and Development for Google in Bangalore. According to his profile at the 2005 International Conference on High Performance Computing, held in December:

At Google, he has worked on various infrastructure projects including the crawl and indexing system, distributed file replication system, and compression techniques for large scale storage systems.

Here’s the patent application:

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Innovating Product Reviews at Google

Some sites on the web do reviews of products and services pretty well, such as amazon.com or rottentomatos.com.

Imagine Google wanting to provide reviews. One of the mantras that we often hear coming from their Mountain View offices is that they wouldn’t get into a field unless they can do something innovative.

So, how might Google handle reviews? A new patent application from the company gives us some insight into what they might do. It includes reviews of things such as:

  • consumer products,
  • business products,
  • movies,
  • books,
  • restaurants,
  • hotels, and;
  • travel packages.

Why bother with this patent application?

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Sébastien Billard’s Interview with Danica Brinton of Ask

Sébastien Billard sent me a heads up on an interview that he has conducted with Danica Brinton, who is the head of International Product Management and Localization for Ask.com – Interview avec Danica Brinton (Ask.com).

While the original is in French, Sébastien has also translated it into English. There’s a link to the English version in pdf format in the first paragraph of the French version. There’s some great information here on how Ask’s blog search works. Here’s a snippet:

Because Bloglines is the largest and longest established major blog reading community online, Ask Blog & Feed Search also has the most robust index of content on the Web: articles are indexed from 2001 through five minutes ago (or less). New posts are added at a rate of four to six million per day, with a total index in excess of 1.5 billion articles, with 4 to 6 million added every day.

The interview also describes different ways that search results can be sorted, and provides some insight into the ExpertRank algorithm.

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Spam Email Filtering Based Upon Links

Can links in emails help reduce email spam? Possibly.

A patent application from Google last week, that I missed until I checked carefully through the patent assignment database, describes an interesting approach to checking for the presence of spam in emails.

If an email has a link within it, the page that it is linked to can be looked at using a concept categorization of that linked content.

When an electronic message is received, hyperlinks within the document are indentified, and information about the link is categorized based upon “semantic relationships” from that information. That categorization, and other information can then be used to determine whether or not the message is undesired and should be filtered.

Method and system to detect e-mail spam using concept categorization of linked content
Invented by Johnny Chen
US Patent Application 20060122957
Published June 8, 2006
Filed: December 3, 2004

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Interviewed, and Some Other Random Musings

Aaron Pratt, of SEO Buzz Box asked me recently if I would answer some questions for him in an interview. He asked me some easy questions, like if I do live near the sea, and some tougher questions, such as how Google might be able to tell if a link is natural or unnatural. It was an enjoyable experience, and I would like to thank Aaron for giving me the chance to share some answers to questions on his site.

Aaron Wall of SEO Book has an excellent new article on Search Relevancy Algorithms: Google vs Yahoo! vs MSN, in which he takes a closer look at the business models and search algorithms of Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask. As a stand-alone article it’s very good. It might be the excellent start of a book on search, if Aaron would consider expanding it.

Jaron Lanier, over at Edge, wrote an essay published at the end of May on some of the problems with the Wisdom of Crowds and the harnessing of collective intelligence, titled DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism. Interesting comparison of some of the similarities and differences between the Wikipedia, My Space, and Google, and how those sources rely upon the interactions of massive amounts of people.

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