Will Google Pursue Chillaxn’s Social Application Patent?

Last August, Google announced that they had purchased social network application creator Slide, in a post titled Google and Slide: building a more social web. Since then, Slide appears to have been running independently of Google, to the point where they’ve launched a Group Texting application named Disco.

While searching through patents granted this week, one of the titles grabbed my attention. System for targeting third party content to users based on social networks (US Patent 7,941,535) was granted on May 10, 2011 and originally filed back on May 7, 2008. It’s not assigned to Google, or even Slide, but one of the inventors named on the patent, Doug Sherrets, has been a Slide employee since 2007. His LinkedIn profile also discloses that he has been a Facebook Shareholder since 2005.

A social search and networking interface that includes a column showing where friends had recently visited, and where they've left comments or ratings or posts.

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Google’s Paraphrase-Based Indexing, Part 2

Paraphrases happen.

People write news exploring a particular event, and use slightly different words to convey the same or a similar meaning based upon their own personal style, different levels of expertise or background knowledge, or a desire to try to be somewhat unique.

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Bloggers may cover a particular concept or story and add their own unique touch to a headline or post about a topic.

Ecommerce site publishers may craft their own description of a product that shares some words and ideas with others.

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Google’s Paraphrase-Based Indexing, Part 1

Imagine if Google could identify similar snippets of text when it comes across them in its index and recognize that they might be related in a meaningful way. For example, the search engine might see a headline on a news article that says, “Soviet troops pulled out of Afghanistan,” and another one noting that, “Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan.” Is Google capable of understanding paraphrases like that?

Is paraphrase-based indexing influencing the search results below?

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Microsoft’s Approach to Identifying Quality Search Results Based on User Feedback?

When we see a change at one of the major search engines like the Panda update at Google, it’s not a bad idea to look at whether or not one of the other search engines has done something similar, or at least published some research on a similar approach.

A flowchart from the Microsoft patent showing how patterns involving user-behavior might influence dynamically improving search results.

Interestingly, a patent granted to Microsoft this week (though originally filed back in 2004) describes how the quality of search results might be judged, and those results possiblity changed, based upon user feedback. The patent is:

Automated satisfaction measurement for web search
Invented by Oliver Hurst-Hiller, Eric Watson, and Susan T. Dumais
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent 7,937,340
Granted May 3, 2011
Filed March 22, 2004

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The Google Video Patent

Back in 2005, Google filed a patent application on Ranking video articles which gives some insights into Google’s future plans for what they might do with video, and some of the possible ranking algorithms they would consider using.

Google Video search went live in January of 2005, and its focus was in helping people find videos on the Web and on television, and providing a place for people to upload videos that could be watched from the service or embedded on other sites. The patent shows a screen that would allow you to enter your local TV provider:

A Google Video Preferences set up screen that would allow you to enter your zip code and TV listings provider.

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A Hint of What Google’s Social Network Might Look Like?

Google is becoming more social on a number of levels, but really doesn’t have a central hub where those social interactions can all be seen at once. That may change in the future, and a new patent application from Google shows an example interface that such a system might use. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Twitter seeing this screenshot from the patent filing:

A screenshot from the patent showing messages, snippets, and updates from a number of people in a twitter like view

Another look shows icons that indicate a wider range of status updates and snippets and notifications that might be available:

The same view as in the image above, except a number of icons indicating different messaging options is revealed

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Turning Fireworks into Submarine Horns

The Washington Nationals no longer set off fireworks after someone hits a homerun at one of their games or when the team wins, and I think it’s great. Instead you hear three blasts from a submarine horn. The team is creating its own unique identity.

Nationals Park is located next to the Navy Yard in Washington DC, and many of the teams fans are from the military. According to Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post, who wrote about How the Nats went from fireworks to a submarine horn this morning, the team visited the Navy Yard looking for alternatives, and found one with the sub horn.

The hope is to have something unique, distinctive, and appropriate to the team, its location, and its fan base. If you were switching channels on TV without necessarily watching the screen, and heard three blasts from the horn, you should be able to recognize that a Nationals game is on, and either the team just won, or someone hit a home run.

My last post inquired about web site quality, and exactly what “quality” might mean. The Panda updates from Google seem to focus upon the quality of pages found in the search engines index, and boosting pages in search results based upon quality signals. Something that might be tempting to web site owners is to emulate or imitate quality sites. Perhaps too much. A thoughtful article from Dr. Jakob Nielsen last year, Should You Copy a Famous Site’s Design? points out a number of reasons why that might not be such a good idea. Perhaps the most important is knowing your audience, and focusing upon who they are.

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Just What is Web Site Quality?

How credible is your website? How likely are people to believe what they find on your pages, or contact you to learn more about what you offer, or conduct a transaction on your site? Would you consider your site to contain high quality content? How do you measure the quality of the content on your pages?

Search engines seem to be placing more emphasis on the quality of web pages, such as with the recent Panda updates at Google, as described in a couple of blog posts on the Official Google Blog:

If Google is now looking at the quality of content on pages as part of what they consider when showing pages in search results, just how do they calculate the quality of pages?

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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines