What concepts does your website cover?
A search engine might look at phrases that you use on your pages to get an idea of the concepts covered by your site.
The search engine might try to decide that certain phrases you use are the “top phrases” that describe topics or concepts about your site.
But what if the search engine is wrong?
What if those top phrases don’t reflect the content of your site accurately? What if some other phrases more meaningfully indicate what your site is about?
If a search engine assigned phrases to your site which might affect the way that your pages are being presented to searchers in responses to queries at the search engine, would you want the search engine to give you the chance to make changes to those phrases that they think your site is about?
New Google Phrase-Based Indexing Patent Filing
Continue reading What are the Top Phrases for Your Website?
What’s the difference between icecream and ice cream, or paperclips and paper clips? How about sandpaper and sand paper, or thumbtack and thumb tack? A compound word comes about when two words can be joined together to form a new word.
In my examples, the meanings of each pair of two words joined together is the same as those two words as phrases.
When someone searches for icecream at Google, should they see the same search results for ice cream or icecream, given that the words mean the same thing? If a page about paperclips shows adsense advertisements, should the ads be for paper clips and paperclips? If an adwords advertiser runs adwords advertisements to show during search results, should their ads run both when someone searches for sandpaper and sand paper?
A few years back, I wrote about a patent filing that explored ways that Google might handle compound and hyphenated words and other spellings of words, in my post SEO and Compound Words, Inflections, and Alternative Spellings. That patent filing gave us a pretty high level overview of how it might treat compounds, but didn’t delve too deeply into the details.
Last week, another patent filing from Google came out on compound words, focusing primarily on describing how it might be used for search advertisements that it shows on web pages and during search results.
Continue reading Compound Words in Search Advertising and SEO
A woman says to a man, “It’s cold in here.” The man puts his arms around her and holds her. He could have turned up a thermostat, or brought her a sweater, or asked her if she wanted to go somewhere warmer. But imagine that the man and woman are in a relationship and have had that conversation a number of times in the past, and the intention behind the words was easily understood by both.
We can sometimes understand the intent behind certain words even though the words don’t actually match up well with the intentions of the people who voice them, though the intentions behind words can be difficult things to understand. Sometimes nonverbal communication that accompanies words can be helpful in interpreting them, though humans aren’t necessarily that good at reading nonverbal communication either.
Sometimes past experience can be informative in understanding what certain words might mean, like the man and woman in my example above.
If human beings can grow easily confused about the intentions behind words, how well can a computer understand the intent behind a handful or less words in a query at a search engine?
Continue reading Understanding Intentions and Microsoft Search Personalization
In September of 2007, Google research scientists Bill Schilit and Okan Kolak announced a new feature for Google Book Search which they called Popular Passages. The announcement came in an Inside Google Book Search blog post titled Dive into the meme pool with Google Book Search
Popular Passages provides us with the ability to find connections between books by taking interesting quotations or passages from one book or magazine or publication, and showing where those appear in other literary works. For example, the following passage shows up the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game:
As thus: lately in a wreck of a Californian ship, one of the passengers fastened a belt about him with two hundred pounds of gold in it, with which he was found afterwards at the bottom. Now, as he was sinking — had he the gold? or had the gold him?
Continue reading Exploring Connections Between Books in Google Book Search
Would it surprise you if over 40 percent of the queries entered into search boxes at search engines consist of proper nouns, such as the names of specific people or places or things?
Or that combinations of proper nouns and nouns might make up over 70 percent of most searches?
At least those are a couple of the conclusions from researchers at Yahoo who are trying to find effective ways to better understand the structure of search queries used by searchers.
A study of queries entered into Yahoo’s search engine in August of 2006 took a close look at The Linguistic Structure of English Web-Search Queries (pdf), and tried to get an understanding of the way that people phrase what they are looking for when they search.
The researchers behind the study came up with some interesting information about the queries that people use, and the structure of those queries.
Continue reading Study on the Structure of Search Queries
When you type a search query term into a search box at Google or Yahoo or Live.com, the search engines might go through their indexes, and try to find the most relevant and important pages in their databases for the word or phrase that you want to find out more about.
But those search engines might try to improve the results that they show to you by trying to understand the intent behind a search rather than just looking for pages that match keywords that you typed as a search query.
Search Engines and Searcher Intent
What do the search engines themselves reveal about the importance of considering the intent behind a search?
Continue reading How Search Engines May Try to Match Searchers’ Intents from Analysis of Search Engine Query Logs
I’m in a testing mood tonight, and put together a list of tests that you can run your blog or web site through if you feel up to learning more about your pages…
1. See what grade level your blog is at with a Readability Test. (The original link has been replaced with a more informative one. The older one kept on becoming unavailable, and there were some issues involving possible web spam associated with it.)
2. Find out if the Gender Genie can predict the gender of your blog’s author.
3. Gauge how well the HTML or XHTML of your blog validates with the W3C Markup Validation Service.
Continue reading Test your Blog
It’s a little unusual to see a document from a search engine discussing search engine optimization.
It’s even more rare to see one providing details on how that search engine might actually optimize web sites for search engines.
A patent application from Yahoo, published at the start of January, provides details on how the search engine could automatically optimize web pages for search engines.
The process described involves looking at queries performed by searchers in search engine log files and possibly also looking at the browsing activity of those searchers.
It would also involve looking at information that they have compiled about how words might be semantically related to each other as concepts or topics (or to use their word, as units), and the popularity or trendiness of those terms or units.
Continue reading How Yahoo Might Automate SEO