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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Google Textrank and Book Search?

What is Google Textrank

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 Google textrank is what is being used to index those books.

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Early Google Acquisitions

With all of the recent acquisitions by Yahoo! and Google, I decided to take a closer look at some Google Acquisitions. I’m glad I did. I came across a couple of papers I hadn’t seen before and learned a little more about some of Google’s employees that I didn’t know.

Many of the Google acquisitions we have seen appear to be influenced by Google attempting to acquire technology, and some Google acquisitions appear to have been made as a way to hire the employees of companies acquired. I’ve tried to indicate what kinds of technology Google acquired in these transactions. I didn’t include the financial details of these purchases either. I was mostly interested in the technology that was brought through these Google acquisitions.

2007 Google Acquisitions

Zingku
Postini
Grand Central Communications
Zenter, Inc.
Peakstream Inc.
Feedburner
Panoramio
Green Border Technologies
Marratech AB’s Video Conferencing Software
Tonic Systems
Doubleclick
Gapminder’s Trendalyzer Software
Adscape Media

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Designing with Profiles Inspired by Inuit Art

There are many different approaches you can take when developing the content for a web site. An interesting article from User Interface Engineering describes a method inspired by the Inuit.

The Inuit create works of art that often resemble people, out of stones found near where they are making these statues. These markers can tell later viewers something about the place, or the builder’s experiences there.

Is that something that can help give us ideas which inspire us when we design? It’s inspiring me.

Reassuring Users with Inukshuk Content describes a university site that decided to show what a student’s experience might be like at their school by using more than 40 detailed profiles of people who may have been students, or are associated with the school in some manner.

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Secure Conversion Tracking at Google

Search engine optimization and paid search advertising both share a similar goal. While both try to get the right visitors to web sites, even more important is that a visitor performs some action while there that fulfills some goal of a site’s owner.

The meeting of one of these objectives by a visitor is often referred to as a conversion, and can include viewing a specific page, buying something, downloading a file, signing up for a membership or newsletter, or another action as defined by the owner of the site.

In paid search, it can be difficult to tell how effective your campaign has been. Conversion tracking is an approach that can be taken by search engines like Google to help an advertiser understand how well their advertising is working. There’s a nice summary of how conversion tracking works in the O’Reilly article Understanding Google’s Conversion-Tracking Mechanism.

A deeper look into how it works is described on the Google AdWordsTM: Conversion Tracking Guide (pdf)

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New Category at SEO By the SEA

I saw a reference a couple of months ago to advertising on search engines as SEA – Search Engine Advertising. I hadn’t seen the term used that often, but it oddly fits into the title of this blog.

By itself, that wasn’t enough to get me to start writing about Search Engine Advertising. But, I’ve been coming across quite a few interesting articles on the subject, and it make sense to pay attention to how the search engines earn money, too. So, I’m rolling out the “SEA” category here at SEO by the SEA.

This new category may look at things like the incorporation of landing pages into the factors looked at by Google when they assign a Quality Score to an ad in determining a minimum bid. But it will do so from the stance of keeping an eye on what the search engines are up to, rather than trying to provide advice on how to do well at search engine advertising. Or at least, that’s my original intent.

And, my next post will take a close look at some of Google’s plans for their advertising.