SEO by the Sea First Anniversary

SEO by the Sea was created in the heat of last year’s summer, with a breeze blowing off the Chesapeake Bay, and an idea to try to get a few marketers to join together to share a few stories, a journey out on the Chesapeake, and some good food and drink.

The early days, and early pages of the blog are about the event, and places to see and stay at, and things to do in Northern Maryland. Once the event ended, the web site was probably going to go into hiatus, possibly for another gathering this year.

Posting was slim in the months following a cruise on the Chesapeake, but an occasional post made it on to the site, and as the weather turned colder, a few more started appearing. A post about Google Acquisitions drew some attention from a few thousand people at Digg, and a nomination from Search Engine Journal (thanks, Loren) drew some more readers to the site.

I had been watching out for new patents and patent applications, and whitepapers on search for a while, and it made some sense to start writing about some of those here. The response seems to have been pretty positive, and I was invited by Danny Sullivan to speak at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York this past spring, and surprised by him there when he asked me if I would like to write about search patents and search research for Search Engine Watch. I’ll be traveling to San Jose for another SES in August, and I’m looking forward to a visit to the west coast. Thanks for those opportunities, Danny.

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Mining Searchers’ Queries for Information

Search engines, and the people who constantly improve and update them are getting smarter and smarter when it comes to finding ways to make the results of those search engines more relevant.

One area they are paying more attention to is in search engine log files, watching how searchers interact with the search engines. I wanted to do some more research on how researchers might be looking at queries, and collected some citations to a number of pages involving that type of research.

This is by no means the canonical list of search engine/user behavior papers, but it’s a start…

More on Deletion Predictions

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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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