Authority Documents for Google’s Local Search

There are a couple of mysteries associated with Google’s local search. One of them is, “How does the search engine decide which web pages should be associated with a specific business and location?” The second is, “What location should be associated with a business?”

If you’ve tried to get a page to rank well in local search, some of the details of this post may not surprise you. If you’ve tried to unravel the mystery of why a business is associated with an old address, and noticed that the old address still appears all over the pages of the business web site, some of the details won’t come as a shock.

Google introduced some new ideas on what it means to be an authoritative source for local search in a patent application that was published this week.

Some Local Optimization Tips Pre-Patent

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Google and Document Segmentation Indexing for Local Search

Imagine a regional magazine writes up a number of reviews of restaurants from a certain city neighborhood, on a web page, and those reviews provide information for each restaurant about their hours, specialties, locations, wine lists, menu choices – but all of the reviews are on one page.

This kind of information would be great for a local search site to collect and show to users looking for places to eat in that area. Except that all of those reviews are on the same page – how does the search engine identify which information goes with which restaurant?

And if they can make that kind of distinction, can they use the process developed for more than just local search?

Visual Segmentation

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Automated Search Ad Approval Process

A search engine manually checking ads to be served with search results, or on web pages could be a pretty labor intensive proposition. What’s the best way to automate such a process?

And what about followup checks on the advertisments, and the landing pages that they may point to?

A new patent application from Google, published today, describes how such an automated system might work.

Advertisement approval
Inventors: Gregory Joseph Badros, Robert J. Stets, and Lucy Zhang
US Patent Application 20060149623
Published July 6, 2006
Filed: December 30, 2004

Abstract

An advertisement for use with an online ad serving system may be automatically checked for compliance with one or more policies of the online ad serving system. If the advertisement is approved, then it is allowed by be served by the ad serving system. Follow up checks of the advertisement may be scheduled. One follow up check may be to test a landing page of the advertisement for compliance with policies. If the advertisement is not approved, hints for making the ad comply with one or more violated policies may be provided to an advertiser associated with the ad, and/or an ad serving system customer service representative. Determining whether or not to approve the advertisement may include determining violations of one or more policies by the advertisement, and, for each of the violations, determining whether or not to exempt the violation.

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Google Ads on Handheld Devices, For Local Area Advertisements

I’m a big fan of location based web sites for businesses that serve one geographic area, but I find that many of those aren’t optimized very well for search engines, and many of the business owners behind them don’t take steps to make those sites easily found in search engines.

Many of those site owners also don’t seem to consider using paid search advertising to draw more attention to their sites, or their businesses.

A new patent application from Google looks at some of the reasons why local advertising hasn’t taken off on the web, and tries to come up with some solutions, based upon the use of mobile phones, internet connected PDAs, and other handheld devices.

Here are three reasons why the inventors of this patent claim that local advertisers aren’t enthusiastic about advertising on the the web:

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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

Continue reading Google’s Holy Grail of Shopping?

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