A Goto.com Time Capsule: Looking at a Four Year Old Vision of Paid Search

Back before there was Yahoo! Search Marketing, and prior to Overture, there was Goto.com. Goto.com changed its name to Overture in September of 2001, and was purchased by Yahoo! a little over two years later for the small sum of $ 1.6 billion.

goto logo

John Battelle’s book, The Search paints an interesting picture of what this search engine was like, and he posted an excerpt on his site this summer, to give you a glimpse: The Sugar Daddy: It’s All About Arbitrage.

A couple of posts ago, I noted that I was surprised by seeing Stephen Jobs name listed as an inventor of one of the patent applications I looked at. I was even more startled to see Goto.com listed as the assignee in another patent application this morning. This one was originally filed back before the October 2001 name change, and wasn’t published for the public to get a gander at until today.

In many ways, coming across it was a little like unearthing a time capsule. You have to look in the internet archive to get a first hand taste of what it was like, and be reminded that it has an even longer history under an older name. In How We Got To GoTo, we are told that the site’s original name was the World Wide Web Worm, and before it was acquired, it was one of the first searchable sites that automatically indexed the web with its own web crawler.

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Correction of Spelling Errors in Non-Roman Languages in Search Queries

The following patent application was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office earlier today:

Systems and methods for spell correction of non-roman characters and words


Systems and methods to process and correct spelling errors for non-Roman based words such as in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages using a rule-based classifier and a hidden Markov model are disclosed.

The method generally includes converting an input entry in a first language such as Chinese to at least one intermediate entry in an intermediate representation, such as pinyin, different from the first language, converting the intermediate entry to at least one possible alternative spelling or form of the input in the first language, and determining that the input entry is either a correct or questionable input entry when a match between the input entry and all possible alternative spellings to the input entry is or is not located, respectively.

The questionable input entry may be classified using, for example, a transformation rule based classifier based on transformation rules generated by a transformation rules generator.

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Apple Meta Data and RSS Patents

I’ve recently started thinking about getting a Mac notebook. I’m just in the beginning research stages, and really don’t know much about how they differ from Windows PCs. I had a Mac cx years ago, but haven’t used one much since.

This does seem to be a good year for the folks at Apple, and I was checking out some laptops at the Apple Store in my local mall last week while doing some last minute Christmas shopping. I liked what I saw.

As I was searching and sorting through the latest patent applications from the US Patent Office this morning, I saw a name I recognized on one of them – Steven P. Jobs. I noticed a few others seemed to share some inventors, and figured that I had better bookmark them to look at later.

I ran across this article, The Devil’s Advocate – Spotlight: Is Your Mac Going To Rat On You?, while checking to see if the topics raised in the patents where timely, and figured that they might be. How much of a privacy concern might these multiple levels of meta data be?

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Yahoo! Acquisitions since Overture

Yahoo! has a history of looking for, and acquiring companies and their technology and hiring employees from those businesses. I focused upon the most recent companies with this post, and will followup sometime in the near future with the rest that I can uncover. Here are a number of the Yahoo! acquisitions since October 2003:

3721 Network Software Co.

3721 Network Software Co. (November 2003) 3721 NSC is a Hong Kong based language keyword search engines and real name address system. This company owned the Chinese company, Beijing 3721 Technology Co. Ltd (aka 3721). There’s a nice illustration on the Beijing page on how their real names translation (Chinese keywords are typed in the browser address bar instead of a URL) from English to Chinese works.

I’m not certain if the Beijing branch was sold to Yahoo! in the purchase. I’ve seen a couple of conflicting reports on that part of the acquisition.


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Happy Happy Holidays

There’s a lot to do over the next couple of days – some last minute shopping, some wrapping of presents, visiting with friends and family, unwrapping of presents, sharing tales of the past year, eating some great food, watching a little football, talking about the year to come.

It should be a fun time, and I hope that your holidays are happy ones, too.

Posting may be a little light over the next couple of days, but I do have a couple of posts brewing.

It’s been a wonderful year, and I’ve had the chance to work with a great group of people for most of it. I’ve had a lot of fun posting and moderating at Cre8asite Forums. The forum is blessed with a wonderful crew of folks behind the scenes, and a great membership that make the whole place my home away from home. I also got to meet a bunch of people in the Search Marketing industry this year at the Search Engine Strategies conference in March in New York City, and at one of Jill Whalen’s Seminars in nearby King of Prussia, Pa.

This is starting to sound like a New Year’s post, so I better stop. I plan on making one of those, looking back on the last year, and looking forward to the new year posts before the calendars change from ’05 to ’06.

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Can Google Read Your Mind? Processing Predictive Queries

A new patent application published this morning doesn’t involve ESP, but it does attempt to anticipate what searchers are looking for. The document has the names of some prominent Google employees on it.

Anticipated query generation and processing in a search engine
United States Patent Application 20050283468
Published: December 22, 2005
Filed: June 22, 2004

The focus of this document is on returning search results quicker, and enabling personalization to make those results more relevant for the person searching.

In my recent Google Acquisition post, one of the companies I mentioned, Kaltix, specialized in personalization and speeding up search results. I also linked to a patent application there, assigned to Kaltix, which covered those types of issues.

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Python Creator Joins Google

Dirson reports about a usenet thread noting that Guido van Rossum, the inventor of the computer language Python, has joined Google.

There hasn’t been an official announcement, but a Googler responding to the thread notes that Guido van Rossum sits about 15 meters away from him.

Python is a popular language at Google these days, used in a number of their programs, perhaps most visibly in the software they are distributing to help people create sitemaps.


Textrank and Google Book Search?

One of the challenges of the Google Book Search project has been to find a way to index all of the books included within the project.

We don’t know the details of the technology used to index those books. A little research uncovers some interesting information.

A post at Search Science this November involved the award of a grant of $107,112 by Google to Rada Mihalcea. Xan Porter noted there that Professor Mihalcea’s research involving “automatic extraction methods to retrieve significant information in books stored in electronic format” is what likely interested Google in getting her help for Google Print, or Google Book Search, as it is known now.

As a co-inventor of textrank, she seems to have been the ideal candidate for Bringing Order into Texts.

It’s impossible to tell whether or not textrank is what is being used to index those books.

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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines