The Google Image Treasure Hunt?

When a search engine indexes an image on the Web, it often has to rely upon the words that it finds associated with that picture. Those words could include the file name, alt text for the image, a caption, as well as other text on the same page.

Those words can be misleading, however, and search engines are trying other approaches to identifying the actual content contained within images. One of the approaches that Google has taken to index images is to have people play each other in a game to label those images. There’s a possibility that Google may add another image game, like the one seen in the screen shot below:

A browser screen shot asking a viewer to pick a car out of an image that also contains a building and some trees, with an address associated with the image.

The new game from Google is described in a patent filing published this week, incorporating a way to identify objects within images. The patent application is:

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Google’s Specialized Forum and Discussion Thread Search Results

Sometimes when you perform a search at Google, you may notice that search results shown from some forums might include additional information, such as how many posts are in a thread, how many authors participated, and when the last post was made, like in the following search snippet:

a Google search result from a forum, which shows information about the discussion thread in addition to the content from the thread, such as the number of posters and the date of the last post.

If you’ve seen those types of results and wondered why Google might include that kind of information, you’re not alone. I’ve been wondering as well.

A recent Google patent application provides some details on why Google is showing that kind of information, how they identify discussion threads, and the kinds of information they may potentially show in search results.

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Having Fun with -Onyms in Keyword Research

You’re writing a page about a new stadium in your City, soon to enjoy the sounds of crowds in the bleachers watching duels between batters and pitchers, hoping to watch balls batted over the center field fence, or shutouts pitched, or the perfect double play.

Your page could simply contain a picture, a street address, and maybe a schedule of games to be played for the season. Or it could include a skeletal list of links to simple pages about the team that will play there, an image of sections where tickets could be purchased, a page to purchase those tickets, and another page about parking and directions.

There’s nothing wrong with delivering just the facts, and providing simple information that fills needs.

But let’s imagine that your goal for the site is to make it more likely that people sign up for season ticket plans, that they get excited about attending games, that they consider driving for a few hours to see the stadium in person rather than kicking back and watching on TV. You want people excited about the new stadium, and you want to show and tell them what’s new. And you want to draw on the history of the players and team to draw old fans and interest new ones.

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How What you Tweet, Tag, or Blog May Determine What Ads You See

In my last post, I wrote about a patent application describing how Yahoo might come out with a widget that could be used with blogs, to recommend old posts on those blogs based upon your lifestreaming activities.

It appears that Yahoo may have even grander and more financially motivated intentions behind collecting information about how you blog, tweet, tag images, and leave other footprints on the Web about your life and interests.

Imagine Yahoo crawling the Web and grabbing information from APIs and feeds published by other sites that provide information about the movies you rent, the reviews that you publish, the pictures that you tag, and the sites that you bookmark. Along with your tweets, your status updates, and your other activities on the Web, this information could be used to build a profile of your actions online.

That profile might then be used to determine which banner ads, job postings, and other advertisements that you may be shown.

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A Yahoo Widget Using Social Network Activity to Recommend Blog Posts? Working with MyBlogLog?

Many blogs display a list of “recent” blog posts or “most popular” blog posts in their sidebars, using a plugin widget. But those lists of blogs stay the same regardless of who is visiting the blog.

Imagine a sidebar widget for a blog that can consider the online activities of visitors at sites like Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, Digg, and Netflix, and recommend older blog posts from the blog being visited.

This widget might not only look at tweets and status updates and digs, or tags posted for pictures and favorited videos, but it may also pay attention to what those visitors blog about on their own sites, or what they enter into a user profile, or which articles they may read on a site.

A Yahoo patent application describes how they might put together such a widget, and how it might gather information to use to make recommendations:

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Paid Search Results and Query Expansion using Synonyms and Related Concepts

Search for “cheap cars” at Yahoo in the future, and you might see web search results and paid search results for terms like “job searches” or “bicycles” in the future, according to a recently published Yahoo patent application.

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on Google search results lately, you’ve possibly noticed that sometimes when you perform a search at Google that the search engine might broaden the search results that you see to include synonyms for one or more of the terms that you used for your search.

I wrote a post about that, Google Synonyms Update, in which I pointed to a couple of patent filings that Google made which described a couple of different ways that Google might come up with synonyms for search terms. In the comments section of the post, a couple of people asked what kind of implications this query expansion might have for sponsored search results.

Good question.

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Virginia SEO and Internet Marketing Meetup for Small Business

In its very earliest of days, SEO by the Sea began as an idea to have a gathering of people interested in internet marketing and search engine optimization away from the big cities, the expensive hotels, costly conferences, and crowded conference centers.

The idea of returning to those roots is something I’ve been considering for a while.

On Sunday, I took the first step by registering at meetup.com the Virginia SEO and Internet Marketing for Small Business. Meetup.com hasn’t officially announced the group yet by sending out emails informing meetup.com members of the new group, but should within the next day or two.

The meetup group is for small business owners and website developers and designers around me in Virginia who might be interested in learning more about internet marketing and search engine optimization. If you work on local government or nonprofit sites, or have a personal or professional blog, and are interested in learning more about SEO or internet marketing, it would be great to see you as well.

I have some ideas on places to hold local meetings, and am hoping to get some local businesses and business organizations involved.

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Facebook Patent Filings (Updated)

Added 2-26-2010 – Two more pending patent applications assigned to Facebook were published yesterday, and one of Facebook’s pending patent applications was granted earlier this week. I’ve added the patent applications, and moved the granted patent on “Dynamically providing newsfeeds” from the list of pending patent filings to the list of granted patents at the bottom of the post.

In addition, Facebook was assigned 9 granted patents from Hewlett-Packard Company, recorded at the USPTO on February 15, 2010, and was assigned a previously published patent application on February 11, 2010. Thanks to @TwiterHero for pointing out these additional patent assignments to me.

The last time I wrote about Facebook’s intellectual property was in a post from August of 2007 titled Facebook Timeline and Patent Application. At that time, Facebook only had one patent filing published at the US Patent and Trademark Office, Systems and methods for social mapping, which focused upon how members of the social network requested and confirmed relationships with others.

I thought it was interesting that the patent filing’s focus was on protecting the private information of others given the history of the development of Facebook, and that of its predecessor, the short-lived Facemash.

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