Google Cross Device Tracking and Audio Watermarks

Historical recording Aboriginal Corroboree,  ,a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/abcarchives/">Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Some rights reserved
Historical recording Aboriginal Corroboree, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Some rights reserved

Advertising on the Web is going through some changes because of how smart phones and tablets track visitors on a site, and how advertisements may broadcast high-frequency sounds that may act as audio watermarks that other devices can pick up upon. Imagine watching TV, and your TV broadcasts a high-frequency sound from an advertisement that your phone hears, and shares with the advertiser, who may then track whether you search for or purchase the product offered on a web site?

These are well described in the following Irish Examiner article, Future of Mobile: Advertisers and the quest for your data. If you read that and have some familiarity with how Google works, you may ask yourself if Google has followed such practices, or shown any sign of doing so.

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How Google Might Make Better Synonym Substitutions Using Knowledge Base Categories

Shea Stadium
Leigh Miller – Yankee Stadium, francis_leigh, Some rights reserved

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a Google patent that involved rewriting queries, titled Investigating Google RankBrain and Query Term Substitutions. There’s likely a lot more to how Google’s RankBrain approach works, but I came across a patent that seems to be related to the patent I wrote about in that post, and thought it was worth sharing and starting a discussion about. The patent I wrote about in that post was Using concepts as contexts for query term substitutions. The title for this new patent was very similar to that one (Synonym identification based on categorical contexts), and the more recent patent was granted on December 1st of this year.

The new patent starts off describing a scenario that is a good example of how it works. The inventors tell us:

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Do Search Click-Throughs Help Determine Whether a Page Appears in Google Search Results?

In a recent article at Search Engine Land we were told that Google Posts That Local Results Are Influenced By Clicks, Then Deletes That. It caught my attention, and had me investigating further.

Patents Involving Clicks Influencing Search Results

It made me recall three patents which described when clicks might influence whether or not pages appeared for certain queries.

The first patent I wrote about in a post titled Google Patents Click-Through Feedback on Search Results to Improve Rankings. The patent that post was about was Modifying search result ranking based on a temporal element of user feedback

Google User Feedback Relevance

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Will Google Start Reading Text in Images on the Web Soon?

Googlebot Doesn’t Read Pictures of Text During Web Crawls

When I was an Administrator at Cre8asiteforums (2002-2007), one of my favorite forums on the site was one called the Website Hospital. People would come with their sites and questions about how they could improve them. One problem that often appeared was people having problems being found in search results for their sites for geographically related queries. One symptom for many sites experiencing that problem was that the only time the address of their business appeared on the site was in pictures of text, rather than actual text. This can be a problem when it comes to Google indexing that information. Google tells us they like text, and can have troubles indexing content found within images:

Most search engines are text-based. If you use JavaScript, DHTML, images, or rich media such as Silverlight to create navigation and links, Googlebot and other spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

Google’s web crawler couldn’t read pictures of text, and Google wasn’t indexing that location information for their sites’ because of that. Site owners were often happy to find out that they just needed to include the address of their business in text, so that Google could crawl and index that information, and make it more likely that they could be found for their location.

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Recalculating PageRank

A Google patent was granted on October 20th, 2015 titled Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a Web-link graph. It presents some changes to Google’s original PageRank.

I wrote about the very first PageRank patent in my post The First PageRank Patent and the Newest, where I posted a link to the original provisional copy of Lawrence Page’s Improved Text Searching in Hypertext Systems (pdf – 1.7m)

Under this new patent, Google adds a diversified set of trusted pages to act as seed sites. When calculating rankings for pages. Google would calculate a distance from the seed pages to the pages being ranked. A use of a trusted set of seed sites may sound a little like the TrustRank approach developed by Stanford and Yahoo a few years ago as described in Combating Web Spam with TrustRank (pdf). I don’t know what role, if any, the Yahoo paper had on the development of the approach in this patent application, but there seems to be some similarities.

Links from seed pages
Ranks would be based in part upon distances of links from seed pages.

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Google Files Patent for Drone Delivery Platform

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news, you may have seen a Reuters article about Google planning for the use of Drones titled Google aims to begin drone package deliveries in 2017 You may also have seen another article from Time Magazine that tells us it might be a while till we see drone delivery happening; Here’s Why Drone Delivery Won’t Be Reality anytime Soon. The thing I’ve been wondering is how do you end up getting a package from a drone? Where would it drop it off?

Drone and Moon
Drone and Moon
Don McCullough
Some rights reserved

Google published a patent application this morning that gives us an idea of how they envision that taking place. The patent application is:

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Move over Google Author Rank, Make way for Google Authoritative Rank

Dr, Seuss
Ted Geisel, who wrote under the name Dr. Seuss, Authoritative for Green Eggs and Ham?

An authoritative user is a user of one or more computer-implemented services (e.g., a social networking service) that has been determined to be authoritative (e.g., an expert) on one or more topics that can be associated with one or more queries

This quote comes from a patent that was granted on Tuesday at the USPTO titled, Showing prominent users for information retrieval requests

I read the patent Tuesday, and thought to revisit it after reading a post this morning by Mark Traphagen at Moz, titled Will Google Bring Back Google Authorship? It’s a good question and Mark brings up a fair amount of evidence to support the idea that they might bring back the concept of author authority in search results, even if they don’t bring back or rely upon authorship markup (adding a rel=”author” to a link to your Google+ profile from a page you write at, or linking to pages you contribute to from your Google+ profile). As Mark notes:

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How Google May Use Schema Vocabulary to Reduce Duplicate Content in Search Results

One of the challenges of optimizing an e-commerce site that has lots of filtering and sorting options can be to try to create a click path through the site so that all the pages on the site that you want indexed by a search engine get crawled and indexed. This could require setting up the site so that some URLs are stopped from being crawled and indexed by use of the site’s robots.txt file, the use of parameter handling, with some pages having meta robots elements that are listed as being set as noindex.

If that kind of care isn’t performed on a site, a lot more URLs on the site might be crawled and indexed than there should be. I worked on one e-commerce site that offered around 3,000 products and category pages; and had around 40,000 pages indexed in Google that included versions of URLs from the site that included HTTP and HTTPS protocols, www and non-www subdomains, and many URLs that included sorting and filtering data parameters. After I reduced the site to a number of URLs that was closer to the number of products if offered, those pages ended up ranking better in search results.

Faceted Search organization
The structure of a site, and filtering and sorting options may cause lots of duplication.

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