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Top 10 Search Engine Patents to Know About from 2019

December 24, 2019 No Comments

I was on the podcast Webcology last week, with fellow guest David Harry, talking with hosts Dave Davies and Jim Hedger about search engine patents.

Both David and Dave also write about search engine patents from time to time, so it was a fun discussion.

David and I were discussing patents and the show before it started, and we both began to compare the most memorable patents we had come across in the last year. This post is my top ten list, along with blog posts I wrote about each of these search engine patents.

The majority of my favorites from the past year are knowledge-based patents covering the use of knowledge graphs and entity extraction.

Another favorite was a news-related patent that was updated for the 6th time. One of the previous times that it was updated (in 2013), the magazine/website ComputerWorld reported upon the update, but didn’t bother to look at the updated claims in the continuation patent, but instead reported upon what the description said (copied from the original 2003 version of the patent) missing out on the actual changes to that patent. It has changed a lot since the first version.

Another favorite is actually a hybrid search/knowledge-based patent that tries to understand and anticipate query templates that might be asked.

The last of the bunch is about better information local search by using actual visits to businesses to calculate quality visit scores to potentially boost rankings of local results.

These are my top ten Search Engine Patents posts of 2019 (I only chose ones that I spent enough time with to write about them. Hopefully, David Harry will share his Top 10 search engine patents from this year with us, too.

Knowledge-Based Patents

1. User-Specific Knowledge Graphs to Support Queries and Predictions Structured user graph to support querying and predictions, is a post about the patent Structured user graph to support querying and predictions. This patent was originally filed in 2013. however, it makes a lot of the same points as this very similar 2019 whitepaper from Google on Personal Knowledge Graphs.

User-specific Knowledge graph example
A user-specific Knowledge Graph with knowledge relationships between entities.

2. Augmented Search Queries Using Knowledge Graph Information – The patent behind this one explains how Google has been including knowledge graph-based results, such as knowledge panels, Related Questions, Related Entities, and more in Search Results for queries, where they have recognized that there is an entity in a query that you may have searched for. The post is about the patent Providing search results using augmented search queries

augmented search queries with entities

3. In Google Knowledge Graph Reconciliation, I wrote about a patent that explains how Google works to better understand knowledge graphs and entities that appear in those in tuples and reverse tuples, and how to expand what those knowledge graphs cover. The patent behind it was Automatic discovery of new entities using graph reconciliation.

entity graph reconciliation planet of the apes

4. In How Might Google Extract Entity Relationship Information from Q&A Pages?, I wrote about the patent Information extraction from question and answer websites, which focuses upon relationships between entities, and how confidence scores might be developed to determine the likelihood that those relationships are true. It also looks at the natural language parsing behind finding answers to questions regarding such relationships.

Entity Relationship Model Example

5. In the post Answering Questions Using Knowledge Graphs, I wrote about Natural Language Processing With An N-Gram Machine, which tells us about how Google may create a knowledge graph to answer a query by performing a search on a question submitted to the search engine, an then use the results (or a percentage of the results) to create a knowledge graph that it can then use to answer the query. This reminded me of the User-Specific knowledge graphs that I wrote about in the first patent I wrote about in this post, and how it pointed out that Google was engaged in creating many more knowledge graphs than just the one that we think about when they told us they were going to index real-world objects back in 2012.

Association scores

6. The post Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs at Google is about the patent Computerized systems and methods for extracting and storing information regarding entities about how Google uses natural language processing to extract entities from text on Web Pages, and how it also parses that text to understand relationships between the entities it finds, and facts and attributes and classifications of those entities, and the confidence scores between those entities and facts about them.

Entity Extractions entity Classes

7. In How Google May Interpret An Ambiguous Query Using a Semantic Interpretation, I wrote about how Google may decide to answer a query that may seem ambiguous by trying to decide upon the intent behind the query and comparing the results that Google search returns for the ambiguous query from the searcher with ones that cover different intents to see how similar the SERPs are for each of those. Google tells us that each of the different semantic interpretations that guess at the intent behind a query might be associated with a canonical query that it would test to see the similarity between it and the original query. This approach is described in the patent Evaluating semantic interpretations of a search query.

Ambiguous Query Patent Flowchart

News-Based Patents

8. I compared earlier claims in Evolution of Google’s News Ranking Algorithm to the claims from the 6th update to one of the original Google News patents at Google, which started out by ranking articles based upon features of the sources of that news in the first version and evolved in a number of ways to focus upon originality by how much it references different entities, as described in updated claims in the patent Systems and methods for improving the ranking of news articles (6th version of this patent, updating the claims as a continuation patent)

Search-Based Patents

9. The post Automatic query pattern generation is about a patent that takes a hybrid search/knowledge approach to better understanding queries that searchers may perform, by looking in query logs for questions that searchers may perform as templates and using entities from Google’s Knowledge Graph as part of those questions. An example would be “what are the symptoms for pneumonia?” The patent behind this post is Automatic query pattern generation. That Google is combining the use of query log information with knowledge graph information to learn about what people might search for, and anticipate such questions shows us how they may combine information like they do with augmentation queries, and answering questions using knowledge graphs.

Query Patterns

Local Search-Based Patents

10. In the post Quality Visit Scores to Businesses May Influence Rankings in Google Local Search, I wrote about how Google might combine real-world information about visits to businesses, as captured using navigational devices such as smartphones, as described by the patent Quality visit measure for controlling computer response to query associated with physical location. Google referred to the use of such quality visit scores in one of their support pages about ads and analytics and mentioned that they might be awarding digital and physical badges to the most visited locations as local favorites (which Google is now awarding in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.)


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Podcast Advertising: 4 Platforms You Need To Know

October 26, 2019 No Comments

We’re introducing 4 podcast platforms that you need to know. These brief intros will help you get familiar with the perks and challenges of each.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


[Hero Academy Video] What You Need to Know About Naming Conventions

October 16, 2019 No Comments

In this new, short video on Hero Academy Hanapin’s Senior Project Manager, Lauren Rosner, will further explain why naming conventions matter and break down some of the best ways to set it up.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Interview with Marie Haynes: What you need to know about E-A-T

October 11, 2019 No Comments

I had the great pleasure of being able to ask Dr. Marie Haynes a few questions about E-A-T. What it is and how you can improve it.

Dr. Marie Haynes is a well-known SEO expert from Ottawa, Canada. She speaks a lot about Google penalties, algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin, and also Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines.

Marie Haynes interview what you need to know about E-A-T

Paul Lovell: What is E-A-T?

Dr. Marie Haynes: E-A-T stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust”. Google mentions E-A-T many times in its Quality Raters’ Guidelines. Google also mentioned E-A-T in a whitepaper recently published, saying, “Where our algorithms detect that a user’s query relates to a “YMYL” topic, we will give more weight in our ranking systems to factors like our understanding of the authoritativeness, expertise, or trustworthiness of the pages we present in the response.

As such, if a site wants to rank well for Your Money or Your Life queries, it is very important that it has all three elements of E-A-T.

PL: How does the Quality Rater Guidelines, help website owners?

DR M H: Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines were created as a guideline to teach human quality raters how to assess high and low-quality issues on websites. In early 2017, we noticed at MHC (Marie Haynes Consulting) that many sites coming to us for site audits after seeing traffic drops were sites that were generally technically sound, but were being outranked by businesses that had all of the components of E-A-T as described in the QRG.

Google has said that the QRG do not exactly reflect Google’s algorithms, but that they fundamentally show us what they want the algorithm to do. We believe that if something is in the QRG as a sign of high or low quality, it is something we should be assessing for our clients.

PL: How can you improve E-A-T?

DR M H: Because E-A-T has many components, there are many things that can be worked on in order to see improvements in this area. Expertise is a tough one to improve upon, but we have seen some cases where we felt it helped by simply adding more “braggy” information on expertise on the homepage and about the page in an effort to show potential readers why this website is an expert on its topics.

We believe authority is heavily tied to links. The QRG talks about how important it is to have other experts recommending you as an expert. In other words, do you have people linking to you because they truly want to recommend your content, your business, or anything else? If you have true recommendations from authoritative places, this contributes to the “A” in E-A-T.

The “T” in E-A-T is the most interesting to me. There are so many elements of trust that we believe Google is measuring. These may include your online reputation, whether or not you have easy to find contact information, whether your refund policy is available online, whether you quote medical sources appropriately, and also, for medical sites, whether you write on topics that contradict general scientific consensus. There are many other elements as well.

What we have found is that the key to recovery for a site that has seen an E-A-T related hit is to determine where the issues are, and then find ways to improve upon them. If people are distrusting your site because perhaps it is too ad-heavy, removing some ads could potentially help. If your nearest competitor has thousands of authoritative mentions, where you have tens of them, this is an area to work on.

PL: What is the best signal for website owners to work on first?

DR M H: I’m going to give an SEO answer here and say that this really depends. First, don’t get too stuck on just E-A-T. If your site has dropped in traffic or rankings, it could be due to technical issues, or perhaps because a competitor is simply outranking you. It doesn’t always mean something is wrong.

With that said, however, one area where we seem to be seeing some significant gains repeatedly is in disavowing large volumes of links that were made for SEO purposes alone. Our thought is that link quality is tied in to “T” in E-A-T.

PL: What does YMYL mean?

DR M H: Most sites we analyze are “Your Money or Your Life” sites. If people make important decisions by reading your site, or if you are spending money on this site, no matter how small the amount, then it is likely YMYL.

PL: How can you track if your E-A-T is rising?

DR M H: There is no “E-A-T metric” or signal to track. But, in our experience, if a site is negatively affected at the time of a core quality update, there is likely an E-A-T issue. What we have seen is that if we can make enough improvements in E-A-T, the real benefit comes with the next core update. That’s usually our barometer for improvement.

Google has updated its algorithm many times over the last few years. Which updates would you say have been more focused on EAT and why?

I personally believe that almost, if not all, of the core updates since early 2017 are focused on some element of E-A-T.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on E-A-T in the comments. If you wish to stay up to date with Marie you can do so on Twitter @Marie_Haynes or head over to mariehaynes.com.

Paul Lovell is an SEO Consultant And Founder at Always Evolving SEO. He can be found on Twitter @_PaulLovell.

The post Interview with Marie Haynes: What you need to know about E-A-T appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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In a social media world, here’s what you need to know about UGC and privacy

September 17, 2019 No Comments

In today’s brand landscape, consumers are rejecting traditional advertising in favor of transparent, personalized and most importantly, authentic communications. In fact, 86% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they support. Driven by this growing emphasis on brand sincerity, marketers are increasingly leveraging user-generated content (UGC) in their marketing and e-commerce strategies.

Correlated with the rise in the use of UGC is an increase in privacy-focused regulation such as the European Union’s industry-defining General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the along with others that will go into effect in the coming years, like the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA), and several other state-specific laws. Quite naturally, brands are asking themselves two questions:

  • Is it worth the effort to incorporate UGC into our marketing strategy?
  • And if so, how do we do it within the rules, and more importantly, in adherence with the expectations of consumers?

Consumers seek to be active participants in their favorite companies’ brand identity journey, rather than passive recipients of brand-created messages. Consumers trust images by other consumers on social media seven times more than advertising.

Additionally, 56% are more likely to buy a product after seeing it featured in a positive or relatable user-generated image. The research and results clearly show that the average consumer perceives content from a peer to be more trustworthy than brand-driven content.

With that in mind, we must help brands leverage UGC with approaches that comply with privacy regulations while also engaging customers in an authentic way.

Influencer vs user: Navigating privacy considerations in an online world


Social – TechCrunch


SQL for Marketing Analysis – All Google Analytics Analysts Should Know

July 23, 2019 No Comments

Marketers and Marketing Analysts generally depend on the tools or IT department to help them pull the data for marketing purposes. There comes a time when they can’t just wait around for IT to help them data pulls and manipulations.  They have to know how to do it on their own. This course is for those marketers who would like to know how to use SQL to conduct their marketing analysis.

The course uses MYSQL to show how SQL works but all the leanings and syntax are applicable to other databases as well.  Sign up for SQL for Marketers and Marketing Analysts

SQLForMarketersCoverImage


Google Analytics Premium


What Every Startup Needs to Know Before They Select a PPC Marketing Agency

July 10, 2019 No Comments

As someone who has been fortunate enough to be a part both the Startup and Digital Agency World, it pains me to witness the many recurring mistakes that are happening by bringing these two worlds together. The Agency wants the business and the Startup wants the best and smartest people to “grow their baby”. It all sounds like a “no-brainer’ right? Well, this perfect situation can sometimes be clouded by one of the most bastardized words in the client-agency relationship – Expectations. In this post, I will highlight some of the misconceptions that could, at the very least, help the next Startup as they prepare to show their product/service to the world.

How to Play the Digital Agency Game:

Don’t get me wrong. There are many highly reputable Marketing Agencies in the world that do not fit this description. On the other hand, there are some other Agencies that work on a different playing field that is not financially supportive of Startups. Most agencies take a 15% commission of Ad Spend regardless of performance or the companies financial situation. These agencies often provide a “Production Line” level level of service that question the actual time spend which leads to the overall client performance. Beware of agencies that promise GOLD and deliver pennies.

What Startups really need from an Agency:

  • 100% transparency of where and how their money is being spent.
  • Daily Direct communication with the Strategist/Marketer.
  • Less than 24 hour turn-around times for typical updates.
  • Level of ongoing Education on how the digital advertising world works.

Big Agency Regurgitation

I have witnessed many horror stories over the years from prospects/clients from either a performance or client relationship with a previous agency. The one thing that all of them had in common was the lack of achievable expectations. Situations such as poor communication, lackluster performance and just an overall bad experience have not only left a bitter taste in their mouth but also question the entire agency experience. Moreover, this feeling of being “burned” has motivated their thinking to bring the marketing “in-house” as the only alternative to reaching success. This is not a good thing….

Conference Intoxication

As a big fan of conferences, they often open your eyes to a whole new world of innovation, prosperity and vision for business owners and that’s a great thing. However, it can sometimes backfire to the point of confusion and anxiety of what to focus on first. It is very easy for Entrepreneurs to get “over-excited” about the latest bells and whistles in software, automation and analytics. They are told that once they have these tools in their toolbox, they can turn their business into a fortune 100 company instantly.

Unfortunately, a reality check is needed to bring everyone down from this “high” and re-focus on the core issue at hand which is identifying, engaging and converting with their core audiences within a sensible budget. Remember, investing in Shiny Objects make you vulnerable, not successful.

The Misunderstanding of Monetization

In some instances, both advertisers and agencies, often forget to track every interaction point and that little oversight can be an unfortunate mistake. This assumed “low-hanging” fruit for tracking things other than traditional eCommerce/Lead Gen Forms such as (below) can completely skew overall performance and future optimization which could be devastating to startups as they hunger for continual growth.

  • Contact Forms
  • Email Newsletter Signups
  • Live Chats
  • Phone Calls
  • Pageviews of a particular page can lead to

Mistrust of the Case Study

Case Studies are a great source for understanding the successes of a particular experience that allow the reader to adapt to new ideas and strategies. However, you need to be careful not put to put too much emphasis on the successes of these studies because of the substantiated factors which often lead inaccuracy. Here are some examples:

  • Geography (Some of these studies reference a specific GEO area and not the wider population)
  • Singular view and opinion. Often, these studies are done by a small group of people which may have biased opinions based on data collected.
  • Case Studies are often used as a “Toot your own horn” strategy to generate more business. (Google is pretty good at that)

Don’t Bet the Farm

I can understand the anxieties of Startups where they want to launch their business with a big bang. However, spending too much too fast (especially in the PPC marketing world) can completely ruin their chances for steady sustainable growth. It’s imperative to start testing “right out of the gate” as well as identifying the quick wins and losses. Moreover, you will need to develop strategies to generate relevent traffic and awareness through alternative methods such as Social Media, SEO and quite frankly “word of mouth”. To prove this theory, just a take a look at these screenshots from SpyFu’s Monthly Trend function.

ppc startups

Outside Opinion Overload

Yes, it’s important to get as much feedback as possible when launching a new company. However, getting advice from people who think they know certain aspects of online marketing because they read an article or attended a conference, can be a slippery slope. Taking advice and/or criticism from someone “on the outside” that completely contradicts the vision of both your business partners and hired experts can be harmful to the business. This 3rd party opinion is often made without any understanding of what it takes to implement as well as its expected outcome. Whether it’s strategies about Landing Pages, Brand vs. Non-Brand, or even simple things such as Promotions and Offers can have a negative effect on revenue if not discussed by everyone on the team.

Solution: Soak up all of the feedback you can get, discuss with your team and agree to label these new ideas as “TEST” Campaigns and analyze the heck out of them.

Forecast Projection Failures

How many times have you seen someone simply create excel formulas which magically forecast the future of online marketing revenue based on a single monetary amount. (For example, if we increase our budget from $ 10,000 to $ 100,000 we will generate an additional $ 1 million dollars.) Yeah, I wish that were all true. However, that is not the case. The math may sound great to a Venture Capitalist/Investor, but it’s just not realistic.

  • Take in account the following scenarios:
  • Market Saturation Levels
  • Seasonality Highs/Lows
  • Potential Technical issues
  • Search Engine Algorithm changes
  • Increased Competitor landscape

“Off the Mark” Target Audiences

Hate to say this, but I have witnessed startup companies that thought they new their audiences and it wasn’t until they over-spent their PPC dollars and countless Landing Page A/B test to come to that realization. Selling a product or service requires more than just a few hours of typical market research. When it comes to online marketing, either hire a PPC Consultant or purchase PPC Competitive Research Software such as SpyFu.com to see some of these invaluable competitor information:

  • Monthly Budget Trends
  • PPC and SEO Keywords
  • Top Text Ads
  • Their own PPC and SEO Competitors
  • Review monthly and seasonality trends
  • Compare up to (3) three competitors and see which terms they are all bidding on.

Here’s an example:

PPC Competitive Analysis

In Conclusion

Whether you are building a Startup company or growing an existing one, the agency experience should be a positive one. However, dealing with the “dog eat dog” agency world when it comes to trust, expectations and continual growth is unfortunate and should never happen. I hope this blog post, at the very least, has provided some insight into preventing these situations as well as learning from them. Finding the right agency partner is just as important as finding the right target audience.


PPC Marketing Consultant | Google Ads Agency


We still don’t know how much of Libra Facebook owns

July 7, 2019 No Comments

The $ 10 million entry fee to join the Facebook-developed cryptocurrency’s Libra Association is merely a minimum. Members who’ll verify transactions can opt to invest more in exchange for more Libra Investment Tokens that will earn them dividends from the interest earned by the Libra Reserve after it pays for infrastructure and operations costs. If regulators allow it to launch after today requesting a halt of development, and the cryptocurrency grows popular with tons of people cashing in local currencies for Libra, the Reserve that holds those assets could grow huge and generate meaningful returns via interest — especially for members willing to sink a ton of money in early.

But therein lies potential disalignment of incentives.

If you’re confused, read our guide to everything about Libra

Each Libra Association member only gets one vote on the council, including Facebook . But if Facebook puts in $ 500 million and another member like eBay antes up just the $ 10 million minimum, Facebook has a much bigger incentive to get people cashing into Libra and holding onto the cryptocurrency so the Reserve earns interest on those dollars or other fiat, rather than just getting people to transact with it regardless of whether they hold on to Libra permanently. That could lead Facebook (and its Calibra subsidiary representing it) to push governance decisions that would disproportionately benefit it.

Ahead of the Libra announcement two weeks ago, Facebook’s head of blockchain and now Calibra David Marcus told me, “The reserve earns interest on some of those treasuries. It’s a small amount and it’s variable, but if the reserve becomes big it could become a substantial way to fund the association but also return capital to investors.”

Yet Facebook, for all its talk about transparency with Libra, refused to tell me how much it’s invested into the Libra project as a whole or the Libra Investment Token. That should be a core question raised by Congress when Marcus testifies before the Senate Banking Chair on July 16th and the House Financial Services Committee on July 17th. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment on this article. Congress should also be sure to ask how Libra will avoid a Cambridge Analytica-style crypto disaster given that apps built on the Libra developer platform aren’t subject to review.

The proportion of the total Libra Investment Tokens that Facebook owns in part determines how decentralized Libra really is. If Facebook owns the lion’s share or a majority, that could give it too much financial impetus to bend the rules in its favor even if it only has one vote on the council.

Here’s how. Facebook has led development of Libra to date. In fact, the Libra Association has yet to draw up and ratify a charter or formally admit members. Technically it’s just Facebook’s project right now. “So far we’ve been funding it all,” Marcus told The Information’s Alex Heath. It’s also been coding it all, organizing it all and communicating it all.

As such, for now the project can’t survive without Facebook, and may not be able to for quite a while. That means that if at any time Facebook disagrees so strongly with the Libra Association that it threatens to pull out, it jeopardizes the investment of all the other members. That could coerce them to vote in support of its governance policy suggestions. Facebook thereby wouldn’t need more than one vote to have a much larger influence on the direction of the project.

Today in a Facebook Note (…not a Libra.org blog post), Marcus wrote, “The levels of investments of each of the partners will most likely be public as well when that’s actually live.” But that’s far from a guarantee, and could come too late for regulators to intercede or other members to truly understand the asymmetry.

Meanwhile, Marcus also said that “We’ve been basically lending money to the association that will be at some point repaid back.” That raises another question of how much Facebook has already sunk into the Libra project, how much it expects to be repaid and on what schedule. Members might be more skittish to join if they learn much of their $ 10 million investment might just go to paying back Facebook. 

That’s not to mention the other ways Facebook will earn money from Libra. Marcus wrote today that “If Libra is successful, Facebook will first benefit from it by enabling more commerce across its family of apps. More commerce means ads will be more effective, and advertisers will buy more of them to grow their businesses. Additionally, if we earn people’s trust with the Calibra wallet over time, we will also be in a position to start offering more financial services, and generate other revenue streams for the company.”

The fact that Facebook oversees development and has a massive head start on building its wallet that will be baked into its billion-plus user Messenger and WhatsApp products sure doesn’t hurt its prospects for offering other financial services. It will be first to market, instantly at scale, with an insider’s role in defining the rule book.

I’m not discounting the potential Libra has to aid the unbanked who can’t pay fees for having too little money in their accounts, or make commerce cheaper for small businesses. But if Facebook stands to earn outsized returns directly and indirectly from Libra, while expecting other members to foot its R&D bill, and these numbers aren’t made public soon, it’s reasonable to question how decentralized and altruistic this project really is.


Social – TechCrunch


Your First Google Ads Campaign: Everything You Should Know

May 20, 2019 No Comments

This article goes over the very basics of getting started advertising with Google Ads for someone with little to no experience.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


What we want to know in the We Company (WeWork) S-1

April 30, 2019 No Comments

With news that the We Company (formerly known as WeWork) has officially filed to go public confidentially with the SEC today, there’s a big question on everyone’s mind: Is this the next massive startup win or a house of cards waiting to be toppled by the glare of the public markets?

No company I follow has as much polarized opinion as the We Company. And while the company will have to reveal at least some of its hand in its official S-1, my guess is that the polarization around the company will not be alleviated until well after it goes public, if ever.

The challenge with understanding its business is how much the details of each of its leases, real estate markets and tenants matter to its bottom line. We already know the top line numbers: the company had revenue of $ 1.8 billion in 2018, and a net loss of $ 1.9 billion that year. That led to the received opinion that the company has an extraordinarily weak business. As Crunchbase News editor Alex Wilhelm put it:


Startups – TechCrunch