2016 Important Google Patents for SEO

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Google Patents from 2016

A couple of days ago, Gianluca Fiorelli published a thoughtful look at the Search Industry in the past year and the year to come at Moz titled SEO and Digital Trends in 2017. He included a graphic within that which listed things that he considered important events in the industry, including Google patents granted in 2016. He listed patents that I had written about in that graphic but hadn’t linked to them in the post, so I considered doing so and mentioned in the comments that I likely would. I also wrote many posts on the Go Fish Digital blog and decided that I would link to some of the Google patents Which I wrote about that were granted in 2016 from there as well.

Here are the Google patents granted in 2016 that I thought were interesting enough to write about this year, and something about what those Google patents do:

How Google May Map a Query to an Entity for Suggestions

Google describes how they might identify and map search suggestions for different entities by looking at properties associated with those entities.

Answering Featured Snippets Timely, Using Sentence Compression on News

Google describes how they may use News sites as sources for featured snippets and use algorithms to create shortened paraphrases to generate answers for those featured snippets.

Google’s Reasonable Surfer Patent Updated

A Google patent that that described how PageRank might be modified by looking at the features and characteristics of links on pages to understand what seemed to be the most important links was rewritten with a little more emphasis on how important the anchor text in those links appeared to be, and how likely it may be that someone would click upon that link.

Selecting Entities on Sites and Performing Tasks On Them Through Google

This points to the possibility that someone might see an entity on a web page and be given an option to interact with that entity, such as making a reservation with a restaurant or being able to get driving directions to a business.

Machine Learning Inside Google

A Google patent describes how Google used machine learning to perform customer service for their Adwords system better.

Ranking Events in Google Search Results

Ranking events in search results could be based upon PageRank and Information Retrieval Scores, but those events could also be ranked based upon how popular entities holding those events might be and how popular the venues are where they are held. I like ranking based on the entities and venues more, myself.

Google Patents Context Vectors to Improve Search

A horse might mean an animal to an equestrian, a tool to a carpenter, or an exercise implement to a gymnast; if a search engine counted up the mentions of a horse in a knowledge base under each type of meaning, it could use those numbers to create vectors that could help it index content based upon multiple meanings of words, and use that knowledge to understand the meanings of queries better; resulting in a smarter search system.

Google News Recommendations and the Google Knowledge Base

Google might identify topics and properties of entities from knowledge bases and use that information to verify facts on web pages better when possibly recommending those pages as “news.”

Google to Use Distance from Mobile Location History for Ranking in Local Search

The local search might start using a distance from your location history than a distance from your desktop computer as a way to rank places that you might find in Google Maps.

About Those Changes to the Google Keyword Planning Tool

A Google patent describes changes to the Keyword Suggestion Planner tool from Google.

Google Glass to Perform Song Recognition, and Play ‘Name that Tune’?

A Google patent describes how Google Glass could recognize songs and display the lyrics to those songs.

Clustered Entities in Google’s Search Results

Google might try to understand the different entities that appear in a set of search results and cluster those together.

Sentiment as a Ranking Signal for Entities

Rankings of entities that appear in search results could be done based on those entities’ sentiment.

Future Directions for Google Maps?

We are given a view of some possible additions to Google Maps in Google patents, including Carpool matching, Location-based reminders, Recommendations for businesses, Special events triggering alerts.

How Google May Interpret Queries Based on Locations and Entities

Imagine walking up to a restaurant that you don’t know how to pronounce the name of (on vacation to another country, maybe), and you search using a phone for the word “reviews” to see reviews about it, and the search engine guesses that you mean the restaurant right in front of you.

How Location May Influence Search Results in Google

Businesses that have a local significance to them may be boosted in search results, and places with a global significance may be demoted in search results.

How Google May Perform Entity Recognition

A Google patent describes how an entity identification model might work at Google to help it better recognize entities.

Classifying Queries as Entity Triggering Queries or Description Triggering Queries

Some queries specifically ask for entities (who directed Star Wars?), while other queries are asking for descriptions (what is Star Wars about?). If Google can better classify whether a query asks for an entity or a description, it can tell if it has given a good answer better.

I often write about Google Patents, so if you are looking for some granted other years than 2016, I may have written about them here. If you enjoyed this post, and you haven’t done so, consider connecting with me on Facebook or Twitter.

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33 thoughts on “2016 Important Google Patents for SEO”

  1. Some of the things like location in search make perfect sense. But I can’t help wondering whether Google eventually wants 2000 ranking factors or they’re trying to make the algorithm seem overly complex by obfuscation.

    I would always be wary of trusting signals that can be manipulated like serp interaction.

  2. Hi Neil,

    Google does have lots and lots of computers, and having lots and lots of ranking factors wouldn’t necessarily hurt them that much – they can calculate all of those. I would think they might want to be able to produce results that most searchers are happy with and that satisfaction is going to be what they let guide them.

  3. Very interesting article and the direction you took about looking at their patents.

    One point that stood out to me was the horse and horse distinction between an animal and a carpenter’s tool. I have a young daughter whom wouldn’t grasp that concept. She has made me realize how complex the English language is and the difficulty for Google to populate the results. I agree the contextual vectors and search intention will likely have more importance moving forward. From what I’ve read lately, that is the intention of changing the Keyword Planner from a single number to a range.

    For local search, I have associates around my city whom I’ve had search local business terms. We each had different results even though we only live a few miles apart. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. I understand for a big city it makes sense. The density of the results in such a small area is enormous for somewhere like New York City. In only a few miles there are hundreds or thousands of businesses. Populating results across town would not help a user. Location-based searches moving forward should be an interesting topic to continue to follow.

  4. Hi Alex,

    I was trying to paraphrase (sentence compression) in a manner that might get people to click through and read my posts about these patents. The contextual vectors patent does describe a search that is smarter, and should do a better job with understanding queries.

    I remember tremendous differences in search results from my home to an office about half an hour away, in another state and the local searches were interesting in how different they would be in the two places. I imagine those would be more similar to each other now that they would possibly be based upon my location history. Hard to tell now that I work from home, and don’t have that kind of location history for Google to use to base results upon.

  5. Interesting and that’s a lot of patents! Google is doing nothing but influencing the web more and more by the day. As a marketer, I can see massive changes in the SERPs down the road.

    Clearly, all of these patents hint towards a much more credible/trusted SERP landscape that focuses on authoritative/trusted sites and pushes the small players down.

  6. Great work Bill! This is something which has been on my mind over the past year. Thanks for compiling such a great resource on SEO patents!

  7. Hi Christian,

    It made sense for me to publish this look back over the year, because I wrote about patents from Google throughout the year. I’m glad you found it to be so useful.

  8. Wow !! Great Work …
    We all know Google keeps updating its Algorithm strategy … I guess By now it would have more than 2000+ ranking factors … And with the recent updates on ranking Maps, it would certainly make things even more complex…
    And With the update on the new Google Keyword Tool does not actually show more the exact search volume that it use to show before. So it gets kind of useless for most of the Webmasters which kind of sucks.
    Google Please Listen our Voice and give us our Old Keyword Planner … !! :v

  9. Thanks for the overview! But rank brain will rule this year, I hope so! Google changes it’s algorithm in frequent manner to execute rank brain with extraordinary user interface. So SEO companies have to be alert on all the time.

  10. Sometimes when i search one thing in google in my pc, that shows a result, but when i search that same thing in google from my friends pc, that shows different result. Google sometimes show the behavioural search result taking data from the gmail account. Thanks for giving this nice article.

  11. Hi Khasrang,

    Thank you. I suspect that Google won’t make any changes to the keyword planner. It still provides enough information for people who are interested in advertising using paid search to buy ads with. It had been helpful having that information as a gauge for your expectations on traffic for SEO, but I suspect we won’t see a return to that information again. It is still useful as an estimate, but not as fine-grained as it was in the past.

  12. Hi Christy,

    Google has been actively involved in making changes to it’s ranking algorithms since they’ve started. They have been telling us that they perform around 50,000 experiments a year, and make around 500 changes to that algorithm each year. So change in SEO is a constant thing, and something we should all be prepared for. There are somethings that seem to be helpful each year, such as understanding your intended audience well, and creating content that they would likely be interested in; so some planning and marketing and advertising can be done, but it does help to be vigilant and prepared to make changes.

  13. Hi Hells Pawn,

    I used to work at an office around half an hour from my home, in another state, and the search results I would see from one of those places were often different from the other. It’s possible that any personalization that took place on the PC at one of those locations was different than the other, but it seemed like the differences in locations also made a difference – I have seem people from Google explain that the context of location makes a difference that is independent of personalized search. Eric Enge did an interview with Jack Menzel from Google a few years ago that talks about the differences that was really good:

    How Google Does Personalization with Jack Menzel

  14. First of all, Happy New Year.

    Secondly, thank you for this list of patents, Bill. While I don’t usually follow the patents they create, the maps one is something I concern and interested most about.

    Since Possum update I still try to figure out how Google decides who they put in the snackpack.

    Also, are there any new Patents/Updates about AMP pages? I see that Google starts to show AMP pages on mobile devices, however, due to AMP design limitation those pages kind of look ugly. My concern here is the conversion rate when person would come to AMP page instead of regular mobile page that was created for conversions.

    Thanks again. The article is bookmarked and I am sure I will be back here again very soon. :)

  15. Hi Bill,

    Wow great work, the mind boggles when going through this list of patents and to think these are just the ones granted in 2016.

    The local patents make total sense and should help local businesses become more visible online vs the big corporate national companies.

  16. This article is very interesting to read. This serves as a big help to capture ideas about the recent ideas on knowing the important SEO patents from google. This is very helpful for me and for others as well. Thank you for sharing you ideas with me through this brilliant post. This is very informative. By the way, thanks a lot for this!

  17. Definitely book marked as these articles on patents give a great snap shot of 2016. Fortunately, google always has to show their hand for us in the industry thus giving us a pretty high rate of success of being able to determine where the industry will shift. Thank you for compiling all of these resources in one place!

  18. Performing local SEO for highly competitive word is of the best example how Google’s algorithm and machine learning is showing the results for the queries. And importantly, updates released last year by Google is benefiting White hat SEO activities.

  19. Hi Chad,

    I really like having an idea of what Google might come out with, from what gets granted at the patent office. It’s good to see it, often beforehand.

  20. Great post. Great ideas. :) When I need ideas to spread my blogs every user the main problem comes about, how to promote my blogs via digital marketing, at least now I know what to do. So thanks.

    Right now, I don’t create much content for my blogs. I mostly create 1 or 2 big posts per month and then promote the heck out of them.

  21. I actually wrote on two important patents that relates to how trust is being calculated for entities and the paper of the inside group that calculates quality of content without any external signals called (KBT), that I then saw you already wrote about one of them more thoroughly then me (obviously).

    I would really love if you can connect the dots on trust factors and how it really relates to search rankings itself.

    Thank you for writing these “patent explained” articles you are the only one that does it in a way that makes sense.

  22. Hi Ori,

    If you are going to refer to the Knowledge-Based Trust paper, I should probably link to it, so that readers here can visit it: Knowledge-Based Trust: Estimating the Trustworthiness of Web Sources

    It is difficult saying how Trust factors is related to search rankings at this point in time. It is a topic that is in my mind that I would like to write more about. Hopefully, I’ll find some information that enables me to go into much more depth on that topic. I’m seeing some hints that come close. I will be keeping an eye out.

  23. Hi Andrew,

    It seemed to make sense to build a blog post based upon all of the posts I had written about Google patents over the past year. Since they are connected by being about patents, creating this post put them into a context that the full posts on the blog may not have shown off well.

  24. Very nice Article,

    It’s definitely a fact saying that Google moves forward all the time and that they are just aiming to deliver the best possible result for all searchers.

    Now it also a fact saying that it makes it a lot difficult for many marketers as we now need to stick to google updates since we never now when something new is coming.

  25. Hi Ronald,

    There have been some case studies published recently about Google updates that present some interesting facts. I think it’s worth exploring articles like that when they come out and doing some testing of your own if you can.

  26. How Machine learning is interacting with Adwords is so fascinating to me. Thank you for outlining the patents in a way that is easily to understand and digest. Our jobs will only become more valuable as Google gets smarter.

  27. Hi Sam,

    That is why I like looking at the patents from Google – to understand what they might be bringing us next – It seemed like one of the most reasonable signs to use to get a sense of how they might be developing in the future.

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