Microsoft Patents Dynamic Ranking Changes

Infrastructure

I spent too much time this past weekend paying attention to the NFL draft. Television coverage of the two day event really isn’t “must see TV,” but there were some surprises. One of them involved the fourth pick of the draft.

According to the New York Daily News, the Jets view left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson as the infrastructure for their offense, which Matt Leinart was supposed to be a part of. The Jets were working the phones trying to move back into the top 10 to get the USC quarterback after selecting Ferguson.

The Jets got their lineman, but missed out on the marquee name quarterback. It wasn’t an exciting choice, but probably a good move. We’ve been hearing for months about changes to the infrastructure of Google, which is almost equally exciting. You know the lineman is going to help the team a lot, but you really wished they picked that flashy quarterback or speedy running back.

There’s nothing quite like a good infrastructure on a search engine. It isn’t quite the same as an update, but it opens up a lot of possibilities.

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Advertising on Electronic Billboards via the web

Imagine being able to tap into an advertising network on the web that allowed you to upload your ads for display where large numbers of people will see them offline. A new patent granted today describes a method for doing that.

You’re driving to work, and pass a billboard that would be an idea place for an ad for your business. You notice that it’s not presently showing an ad, but has a web address displayed, along with a message to “advertise here.” You repeat the address over and over a few times to try to remember it.

You get to your office, fire up a browser, and visit the URL that you’ve been chanting for a couple of minutes now.

The page shows the rates for advertising on that billboard, some editorial guidelines, and a way to register and accept pay for showing an ad. After registering, and brainstorming for a few minutes on what you would like the billboard to say, you create an ad using powerpoint, submit it, enter in your credit card information, and set the time and duration to display it.

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Improving the Wikipedia results for Search Engine Optimization

I’ve been unhappy for a long time with what is on the pages of the Wikipedia for Search Engine Optimization. I decided this weekend to start making some changes to present the subject from a more rounded perspective.

Some of the things that bothered me about the article as it was:

1. It presented the industry as one largely drawn into two different camps, mostly at odds with one another – white hats and black hats – or those who follow ethical practices as defined by search engine guidelines, and those who don’t.

Ethics aren’t defined by search engines, but rather by moral codes of conduct, and having search engines set the tone of that conduct probably isn’t appropriate. They are businesses, beholden to shareholders, reliant on advertisers, and dependent upon searchers. They’ve never set themselves up to be the moral policemen for the search engine optimization community, and it’s a role that I suspect that they don’t relish.

2. Search engines have expanded their offerings considerably in the past few years to include much more than just organic results, and someone practicing SEO can be helped by having an understanding of RSS feeds, local search, mapping, vertical search, shopping search, news, and paid advertising.

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Organizing social tags into hierarchies

Social tags like those used by Flickr or Delicious are interesting in that they allow people to categorize their own efforts (and those of others) and share material based upon those classifications.

But, the result of tagging can be a pretty flat list of many categories. There is a usefulness to a hierarchical ordering of information that enables people to browse and scroll down through categories. It can make it easier for people to find the information that they may be looking for.

A Ph.D. student from Stanford, Paul Heymann, has been working with Professor Hector Garcia-Molina to find a way to build Tag Hierarchies to make the efforts of tagging more useful. He notes that:

Tagging systems are excellent at the task that they were designed for—allowing a large, disparate group of users to collaboratively label massive, dynamic information systems like the web, media collections of millions of images, and so on. We are working to make these systems better by automating production of hierarchical taxonomies that describe the data from the raw flat tags generated by users.

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Yahoo patents load balancing, my computer breaks

I ran out this morning, and bought a new computer. The old one died on me yesterday.

It’s a good thing for external hard drives. I would have been pretty upset if I had lost all of the data on the old computer.

I did have to do a lot of updating and installation of software, and it might have been time to get a new computer anyway. I might have to pay more attention to how Yahoo handles their computers.

(Will be back to semi-regular posting as soon as I do a little catching up.)

In the meantime, I had a few minutes to take a look at the US patent office tonight. Yahoo! was granted a patent today on a filing from 1999 on coordinating information between multple servers that share information, and also on servers that may cache some of that information.

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25 links on Search and Design

Fun with graphs

This graph comparing Judas vs. Da Vinci is very interesting. I also enjoy the other graphs over at the data mining blog. This one uses data from blogpulse to see the reactions to the release of the National Geographic article on The Gospel of Judas compared to interest in The Da Vinci Code .

Interviews

The International Symbol for Man Tells All
Thoroughly enjoyed this Design Observer article, in which an icon is asked questions about what it’s like to stand for everyone.

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A Look at Google Midpage Query Refinements

In early April, Googleguy posted at the Search Engine Watch Forums, and his post was split off into a thread titled Google Confirms Mid-Page “See Results For” Section No Longer A Test; Suggest A Name!.

In his post, he tells us that:

In fact, this is no longer a test. We do this when we see a query (e.g. [katrina] or something similar) that we think might benefit from a refinement, (e.g. maybe you wanted to search for [hurricane katrina]).

If you haven’t seen the additional query results in question, they are links for some alternative suggested search terms, appearing in the middle of the top ten results that Google returns.

Those alternative suggestions had been referred to as user interface (UI) experiments, along with a number of other different ways of presenting Google results.

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Joining Search Engine Watch as a correspondent on patents

I remember back in 1997 when a friend of mine sent me a link to a site started by Danny Sullivan, named Search Engine Watch.

We were just getting our hands and minds wrapped around promoting a site on the web, and learning as much as we could about how the web worked, and about how to run a business online. It was exciting to see Danny’s post at the Search Engine Watch Blog yesterday on My Decade Of Writing About Search Engines, and it brought back some memories of resources like his “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines” that helped tremendously.

We had launched a site in 1996, and tried to learn and implement something new almost everyday. It’s ten years later, and I’m still excited about learning new things about the web, and marketing, and online promotion.

I’ve also tried to share some of what I’ve been learning as an administrator at Cre8asite Forums, and I discovered early on there that the conversations that evolve out of sharing ideas and information with others can be richly rewarding, and lead to friendships, career changes, and a deep satisfaction in finding something that you love to do.

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