Google Granted Patent on Mobile Machine Learning

That phone in your pocket is filled with applications, with sensors to measure movement and the world around us, with communications tools that put us in touch with work, home, family, friends, service providers and strangers.

That phone in your pocket is poised to teach itself how to work better, based upon how you use it, which applications you run, and how you use it to communicate with others.

A patent granted to Google last week explores different ways that parts and pieces of your phone can communicate with each other to remember settings in different contexts, to re-rank information based upon location and time and place, under a mobile machine learning system.

Imagine, for instance, landing at San Francisco International Airport to visit your brother. As you step off the plane, your phone resets its location and displays time and weather information on its home page for San Francisco. You open your phone, and the number for your limo appears at the top, with your hotel next, and then your brother’s home number (it would show his work number if it were earlier in the day).

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Ray Kurzweil Brings Poetry to Google

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a panel presentation on the future of SEO, in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event was the first Digital Marketing for Business Conference (and it was filled with some great sessions). The presentation wasn’t a PowerPoint and pitter-patter type talk.

Instead, I was joined by Russ Jones (The Google Cache) and Jenny Halasz (Archology) in somewhat of a free-for-all where we each exhibited our (biased) thoughts about where SEO would take us tomorrow. Conference Host and Q&A Moderator for the session, Phil Buckley had purposefully constructed a presentation where he asked questions and had each of us take turns answering, and responding to the other panelist responses as well. There were disagreements on some simple topics, and disagreement on some more complex topics, and oddly a lot of agreement as well.

Advice on the Future of SEO

In our final take-aways, as Phil asked for them, we had the chance to impart advice on one thing that people should pay careful attention to, and one thing that our audience members should absolutely do. I had the chance to start, and recommended that when people create content for their pages and research keywords that they carefully pay attention to the audience for their sites and the objectives of the sites themselves.

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The Noise Becomes the Signal – Voice Queries and Accent Scores

Might a twang or a drawl influence the search results you see at Google? If you’re prone to calling an elevator a lift, and tend to speak the Queen’s English in an accent similar to hers, you might see different search results than if you grew up in the Bronx or in New Orleans. If you sport a Polish accent, or a Spanish one, and you perform voice searches on your phone, would receiving results in Polish or in Spanish because of your accent be a problem or a benefit? If your accent is Australian, and you search for “football” while in the US, would it surprise you to see some Australian Rules Football results returned to you?

Search engines have been using something called an Automated Search Recognition (“ASR”) engine to try to eliminate or reduce accents in voice searches by treating those as if they were noise. But the value of that noise might also be recognized as another signal that might improve search results.

A new patent was granted to Google yesterday that explores the topic in more depth. For instance, it provides this example of how a search engine might use such accent information:

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Category Relevant Search Results, Query Suggestions, and Advertisements Based on Location?

A couple of days ago, Mike Blumenthal of Understanding Google Places & Local Search asked a pretty timely question with the post Google Local: Are Mobile Signals Actively used in Ranking Local Results? Mike mentioned a post I wrote about Google research on using driving directions as a local search ranking signal.

Mike can add another example of how location may play a role in the rankings of local results.

Street cars in San Francisco.

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Google Patent Granted on Fresh Related Search Suggestions

When you search at Google, in addition to search results, Google often returns a set of search suggestions that might be related to your query. Last month, I wrote about how some of those suggested query refinements might be created follow a method invented in part by Ori Allon, in the post How Google is Generating Query Refinements the Orion Way. But that’s probably not the only source of search suggestions. A Google patent granted this week looks at how Google could grab additional refinements from very recent sources.

For example, the following search for “North Korea” shows a couple of very recent earthquake listings:

A screenshot from the patent showing search suggestions that include a couple of very recent suggestions showing earthquakes.

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Improving Processes

Understanding processes and improving upon them to work smarter can result in lower costs, better outcomes, and less friction between participants. This is true with projects involving websites and SEO, and it’s true with most businesses. As an SEO, there are a lot of things I work upon to try to make a website better. That tends to bleed over into other things as well.

I was thinking back to some changes at the court I worked a few years ago which provide some good examples of how focusing upon processes can bring about positive changes.

Where’s the Bail Money?

Back when I was an employee of one of the Courts of Delaware, a number of Courts and State Agencies joined together to bring a new case management software system to the State’s Courts that would help to:

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Google’s Agent Rank / Author Rank Patent Filing

I originally wrote the following article 6 years ago, and it was published on Search Engine Land on February 9th, 2007. At the time, I wasn’t sure if we would ever see Google find a way to meld together ranking signals from PageRank and Information Retrieval with relevance signals from authors and publishers and commentators and editors and advertisers.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about something being referred to as Author Rank with the launch of Google Plus. The Agent Rank patent itself was granted by the USPTO on July 21, 2009. Two continuation versions of the patent were also filed by Google since then, with one stressing the portability of reputation scores for agents, and the other pointing out that not all endorsements from Agents are equal.

I hope that we never do see an “Author Rank,” but would prefer the Agent Rank described in the first patent, where the reputation scores of all of the people who put together the content of a page played a role in the ranking of that page.

If you’re interested in discussing Agent Rank today, I’m one of the moderators in the Google Plus Community Google Authorship & Author Rank. Stop on by, join if you’d like, and become part of the community.

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Google’s Query-Based Circles Patent

Are Google’s query-based social circles the answer to Facebook’s Graph Search?

Not too long ago, Facebook launched its Graph Search, which enables people to search for things like “My Friends who live in San Francisco,” and My Friends who like Surfing,’ and “Places my Friends like.”

Imagine if Google Plus allowed you to perform searches such as, “People who take the same bus as me into the city,” or “People who like to eat at the Red Truck Bakery,” or “People attending the Dave Matthews Band Concert next Friday,” and creates in response a social network circle that other people might be invited to join, even temporarily, or who could join anonymously. Or Google Plus may dynamically create such a query-based social circle which it may recommend that you share through as you create a post about a music festival you’re going to, or a meal you’re reviewing from a local hotel.

A screenshot from the patent filing showing social circles for Google Plus, including query based circles for a a music festivals and a grand hotel.

The image above from the patent filing shows a query-based circle for a “Music Festival” and a query-based circle for a “Grand Hotel,” as well as a button to only display query-based circles in the interface.

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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines