Algos Gone Wild: Google Exposed!

    November 4, 2005

This Google patent application speaks volumes… literally. As I understand it, the SEO junkies are rightly going over it with a fine-toothed comb to discover how exactly Google plans to fold personalization into the rank-ordering of search results.

But overlooked in that discussion is the fact that Google sees its algorithmic thinking increasingly as applying to all “placed content.” This can mean organic search results, ads near organic search results, ads or related headlines near email, or ads on content pages.

Personalization potentially creeps into the way that ads are displayed, then. That’ll eventually have a dramatic impact on the opportunities available to advertisers, and the price they may pay to gain visibility.

For now, some of this application does a very interesting job of describing (“for the sake of illustration”) exactly how Google AdWords and/or Overture worked in their past incarnations. And then it adds info about how AdWords might work in the future.

For anyone deeply interested in search, these patent applications offer a crystal-clear view of how Google’s top scientists would describe exactly what their technology does, and how it fits in with commonly-understood categories of search technology, and how certain “embodiments” of certain features might look. For example, to guard against changes in user interests, a personalization-enhanced search engine might choose to show the “generic” index results in positions 1, 3, 5, and so on, and the personalized results in position 2, 4, 6, and so on.

Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.