Will Social Networks invade Your TV?

Maybe a better question is when will TV set top boxes give people the ability to interact with others on their TV screens when watching? A patent filing published at the end of May shows one possibility that we might see in the future for making TV more social.

A screenshot from the patent showing a TV screen with an image from a movie as well as a chat interface, a request for an incoming video conference, an online status, and other social options.

In addition to enabling television and social networking to be available via a real time interface, the set top box might allow people to preconfigure access to different social networks based upon channels on the television or certain time ranges.

For instance, you might associate ESPN with a Twitter Red Sox Fan Group at @Rdsxfans, as seen in the user interface screen below, or chat access to a specific person on Facebook between the hours of 7-10pm:

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Looking Back after 6 Years and 1,000 Posts

Almost 6 years ago, SEO by the Sea was born in a thought inspired by the sight of sails bobbing up and down on waves where the Susquehanna River meets the Chesapeake Bay, in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

The town is a sleepy historic place, which comes alive during weekends, when many visit the antique shops and docks and bed and breakfasts. Most of it burned down during the War of 1812, when nailmaker and militia lieutenant John O’Neill attempted to singlehandedly hold off British ships intending to sail up the River after their attack on Baltimore (the attack that inspired Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner).

O’Neill was eventually captured, and in retribution, the British set the buildings of Havre de Grace afire. Little of it remained unscathed, but the residents rebuilt the town, which originally got its name from Marquis de La Fayette, who called it Havre de Grace, or the “Harbor of Grace.”

Concord Point Lighthouse, which sits at the mouth of the Susquehanna River in Havre de Grace.

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How Google Might Choose High Quality Reviews to Display for Products and Businesses

If you want to write a review that more people might see, and that might be selected by a search engine as a “representative review” to display for a business or product or service, there are probably a few things that you might want to keep in mind while writing. At least according to a patent filing from a couple of Google employees. It isn’t officially assigned to Google at this point, but it lists a Google patent application that I wrote about last November on Reputations for Reviewers and Raters as a related filing.

The patent is filled with descriptions of “quality” signals that describe the ideal review, and it provides some good advice regarding what Google might look for in a review.

Run your review through a spell checker and grammar checker – chances are that Google will.

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Google Research Paper on Online Reviews for Merchants and Products

People often search the Web for reviews of products they might buy and merchants from whom they might purchase goods and services. It’s easy to lose track of time reading reviews on sites like Amazon, where people seem to enjoy sharing their opinions about almost anything. It’s not so easy to find online reviews of merchants surrounding me in a somewhat rural community.

Reviews are interesting when it comes to how they might be treated by search engines, how they could possible impact local search rankings, how a search engine might identify review spam, and the potential impact of those online reviews upon word of mouth and the reputations of businesses and the sales of goods and services.

For instance, Google Rich Snippets allow snippets to show the number of stars a place might have received in reviews from a particular resouce such as Yelp:

A screenshot of Google search results showing results for two different restaurants in a search for [pizza] in New York, indicating a number of starred reviews.

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Google Quality Scores for Publishers: The Carrot and the Stick?

Google’s Panda update has web publishers concerned about how Google is ranking their pages based upon features found on those pages that Google might use to “measure” the quality of those pages. A Google Webmaster Central blog post published earlier this month from Google Fellow Amit Singhal, More guidance on building high-quality sites, tells us:

Our site quality algorithms are aimed at helping people find “high-quality” sites by reducing the rankings of low-quality content. The recent “Panda” change tackles the difficult task of algorithmically assessing website quality.

The blog post includes a large number of questions that publishers might ask themselves about the quality of the content and the user experience on their websites, to give them some ideas on how they might improve both the content and the user experience. In some ways, this reranking of lower quality content has been a stick from the search engine, but what if Google used a carrot instead?

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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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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines