Part of our internal training here at Catalyst Search Marketing is a monthly webinar I host called, “Patent Watch”.
Last month we looked a Google patent called ”Social Search“, and yesterday we dug into another Google patent about, “Personalized Search”.
- Filed: March 9th, 2010
- Pub. Date: July 1st, 2010
- Pub. No: US 2010/0169297 A1
- Assignee: Google Inc.
- Link to patent: here
Search engines are pretty good at returning relevant results for a query, but they aren’t very good at tailoring those results to reflect the searchers interests. This patent explains how Google might solve this.
First we need to tell Google what topics we are interested in. This would be done through Google+ these days, but back in 2010, before G+ was public, the patent showed a “directory” like category drop-down where users could select which categories match their interest. Behold:
If you like computers too, why not subscribe to my RSS Feed so you can get more great info on them computers.
Let’s see what happens
Now I’m going to move the slider half way between min-personalization and max-personalization. Because I had earlier chosen the category of, “Computers” as one of my interests (2 images above) results like “The Register” are now making their way into my top 10.
Now why did “The Register” start to move up? It’s because, “The Register” is a page that is listed in Google’s internal directory as being related to “Computers”. Just as if, “The Register” was listed in DMOZ under the computers category.
Now What Happens
What happens when we move the slider all the way to max-personalization?
Now, “The Register” has moved all the way to the top? How did this happen?
Imagine that Google has an private version of DMOZ where it categorizes the most authoritative websites. Each website has a score from 1-10 for the category. So for example, “The Register” may have a boost score of 8 in the category of “Computers”.
Now when I do a search for “Stanford”, Google orders my results based on an Information Retrival (IR) score. That score is based on the standard relevancy and link algorithms Google uses for it’s rankings. Now if I enable personalization, if one of the sites in my initial results is also listed in the same category within Google’s directory as one of my interests, the boost score of that site is multiplied times the initial IR score to create a new ranking order – personalized results!
How to calculate the Boost Score
The boost score is calculated much like PageRank. Google starts with an initial seed list of websites that it knows is very relevant to the category. For example, the NIH.gov would be listed in the Health category. From that initial seed list, Google looks at websites that those seeds link to most. That second set of sites receives a score based on that link popularity. Now Google does another pass, and looks at that 2nd seed list to see what sites they link to most often. That 3rd set of sites receives a score based on those inbound links. That score for the 3rd set is the boost score for that site relating to the category.
So again, if one of the sites in the initial results is bucketed in a category that matches the searchers interest, the boost score for that site is multiplied times the initial IR score to reorder the results. Max personalization uses the full boost score as a multiplier, while partial personalization uses a fraction of the boost score.
- Links from seed sites will give your site a higher boost score which improves personalized results
- Follows and shares from influential people within Google+ may act in the same was as seed links
- Google+ will store your interests
- Google uses 70+ personalization signals for non-logged in searchers
- You don’t need to be logged in to Google for personalization to take affect. Your interests can be saved in cookies
Want to attend the next Patent Watch?
We’re considering opening this webinar series up to SEOs outside of Catalyst. If you would like to attend next month’s webinar, leave a comment below. If there is enough interest, we’ll open it up and I’ll send you an invite. Note: You’ll only get an invite if you leave a comment, because that’s the contact info I’ll use to let you know the date/time.