How Google Might Index Link Behavior Information

Under a conventional approach to indexing links by a search engine, information about the targeted address that a link is pointed towards might be included in a search engine’s index, as well as the anchor text displayed within the links, and possibly even some text near the link itself. The Google Reasonable Surfer model points to the possibility of other information being collected about a link as well, which could be taken together as a whole to calculate how much value or weight might be passed along by the link to another page under a PageRank link analysis model or even in determining how much weight the anchor text used to point to a link might carry.

The question, Just How Smart are Search Engine Robots has been asked with more frequency lately, and a pending patent application published by Google shows how the search engine might be collecting a whole different type of link behavior information about links that are found on the Web. Given Google’s move towards building their own Chrome Browser and providing access to web pages via alternative screens such as those on smart phones and other handheld devices and television screens, it makes sense for the search engine to capture this kind of information as well. The image from the patent filing below shows sections of links, including target and onclick attributes that the search engine might now be indexing.

A screenshot from Google Maps showing an information box over the map that appears after clicking upon a link in the column to the left.

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Google’s Comment Patents and How Pages’ Web Rankings Might Be Influenced by Commentors’ Reputations

A rumor surfaced last week that Google would launch a third party commenting platform to rival Facebook’s. Coincidentally, Google was granted two patents this week describing comment systems, and how comments might be ranked under those systems. But the patents appear to describe comments on two different services from Google that have been discontinued. One of the patents appears to involve Google Sidewiki, which had more of a Web annotation service feel than that of a commenting system, and and the other involves comments on Google Knol.

Google Sidewiki and Google Knol and Commenting

Google Sidewiki enabled people to leave a comment on virtually any page on the Web, and could be accessed through the Google toolbar. A 1999 survey of Web annotation services showed that they have been around since the earliest days of the Web, and they differ from commenting systems in that they’ve been aimed at providing ways for people to leave private or public notes about web pages, sometimes but not necessarily with the participation of the authors of those pages. When Google announced that they were closing down Sidewiki last September, they told us that:

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Google’s Social Search Patent Application

A newly published pending patent application from Google provides some insights into the display of social search results. Before digging into it, here’s a quick peek into the evolution of social search on Google.

The Evolution of Social Search on Google

In December of 2009, Google introduced social search, showing social search results to searchers at the bottoms of those search results. The people who were included in those results came from a few different sources according to the Official Google Blog post announcing it. This “social circle of friends” would come from connections listed upon your public Google profile, such as a link to your Twitter profile or FriendFeed profile, or people you chat with or email on Gmail, or from some websites that you might subscribe to on Google Reader. Those social results are specific to the people viewing them, so you would need to be signed into your Google Account to have them displayed to you.

Google also introduced “real time” search results in the same month, which displayed a scrolling set of results relevant to a query that you performed from a number of sources including news sites, blogs, and social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others:

Our real-time search features are based on more than a dozen new search technologies that enable us to monitor more than a billion documents and process hundreds of millions of real-time changes each day. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our new partners that we’re announcing today: Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, Jaiku and — along with Twitter, which we announced a few weeks ago.

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Most Important SEO Patents Part 10: Just the Beginning

I’ve been faced with a pretty difficult decision, choosing the last of the patents, or patent families to include in this series of posts about the most important search-related patents to people who promote sites on the Web. I find I just can’t choose one.


For the last few weeks, I’ve been arguing with myself over a choice of at least two sets of patents. One patent that I wanted to include involved responding to informational needs by going beyond matching keywords to expand the query terms used in search results to include synonyms and pages on related concepts. There are a number of related patents granted to Google that describe how the search engine might identify synonyms, and it’s worth spending some time with all of them.

Large Data Sets

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Google Near Realtime Hot Queries Patent

One of the interesting features at Twitter is the near real-time trending topics section which enables you to see hot topics that are the subject of tweets. Twitter allows you to see tweets about these topics on a world wide scale, or nation wide, or even on a smaller regional scope. With Google Trends, you can see topics that are recently popular at the search engine as well. But many of those are popular topics over a period of hours or even days. What if instead you could see hot topics in Google searches in much shorter periods, such as over the last 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes? What if you could see these trending searches on a nation wide basis or for much smaller regions? I’d love to see what hot searches were taking place over the last half hour in my part of Virginia, for instance.

A Google patent granted this week explores the topic, and describes such a hot query system.

Method and system for displaying real time trends
Invented by Hiroshi Kuraoka and Takayuki Tei
Assigned to Google Inc.
US Patent 8,140,562
Granted March 20, 2012
Filed: March 24, 2009

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Predicting SEO Changes in Rankings, Algorithms, and Penalties

Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published a couple of articles that point to a new direction in the future from Google, With Semantic Search, Google Eyes Competitors, and Google Gives Search a Refresh. On Friday, Barry Schwartz reported at Search Engine Land that Google’s Head of Spam, Matt Cutts announced that Google was working upon an “Over Optimization” penalty for websites that were stuffed with too many links and had excessive links pointed to them, in the post, Too Much SEO? Google’s Working On An “Over-Optimization” Penalty For That.

Thursday evening I visited the Philadelphia offices of Seer Interactive to give a presentation on some of the changes in Search and Social activities involving SEO in a free presentation hosted by Wil Reynolds and the Seer Interactive team. Amongst the possible changes I pointed out included more emphasis on search as a knowledge base, with more Q&A results, and a greater emphasis on information extraction around entities as described in the Wall Street Journal article.


Yahoo Patents in Facebook Patent Infringement Case

There’s been some chattering on the Web recently that Yahoo! might pursue a patent infringement case. If true, I suspected that the Overture patents on Advertising might be part of any case brought. Looks like I was right in thinking so.

Earlier today, AllThingsD published a fairly detailed post titled Yahoo Sues Facebook for Patent Infringement, Which Social Network Calls “Puzzling” (Including Filing) which tells us about the some of the history, implications, and reactions to a legal complaint filed earlier today which lists 10 patents that Yahoo! claims Facebook is infringing upon. The article includes a copy of the complaint which listed the patent numbers involved, and specific claims based upon each of those patents.

The patents included Overture’s advertising patents as well as Yahoo! patents on advertising, social networking, customization, privacy, and messaging.

After reading through the complaint, I wanted to take a look at the patents and share them. What implications does this patent infringement case have for Facebook, not only focusing upon advertising, but also upon acting as a social network? Here are the patents involved in the case:

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How Google Data Centers may be Split between Regional and Global Data

A Google patent granted last week describes how the indexes at different Google data centers may contain pages that are indexed and classified as global, and pages that are indexed and classified as regional. Last summer, I wrote about how Google may predict which data center might provide the best results for a query. Google was also granted a number of patents last August that provided some insights into how Google’s Planet Scale Distributed Storage of Data may work.

A screenshot from Google's patent on regional indexes showing that different data centers contain both regional and global content.

Those patents from last summer give us an intriguing but incomplete look at the pages contained in Google’s data centers. The newly granted patent appears to fill in some significant gaps. Imagine that each data center might contain some unique pages and content that’s regional in nature, and some content that might be replicated across more than one data center that’s global in nature. The global content could potentially take up between 50% and 75% of storage area on each data center.

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Getting Information about Search, SEO, and the Semantic Web Directly from the Search Engines