We’ve discussed Google’s snippets before. But few people discuss Yahoo! snippets. Maybe the search community has written Yahoo! off as irrelevant?
Regardless of what any of us think about Yahoo!, they are still a part of the search game. And I’d say a major part since they are still the second largest search engine around. Recently, SEO By The Sea wrote a blog post detailing a patent application regarding a method for selecting a snippet for a search page. Bill Slawkski, as usual, has some interesting insight.
The gist of Yahoo! patent application boils down to three things:
* A query-independent relevance for each line of text – a degree to which the line of text of the document summarizes the document.
* A query-dependent relevance of each of the lines of text – a relevance of the line of text to the query.
* The intent behind a query.
It’s interesting to note that keywords and semantic language are not mentioned here at all. Rather, Yahoo! focuses on two types of relevance – query dependent and query independent.
The query dependent relevance is a reference to how many times a query might appear within a line of text on a web page. It might also be a percentage of the query terms that appear in a line of text. In other words, if a line of text has 10 words and a query of 4 words turns up all 4 words in that line of text, that would be pretty high.
But the one I find interesting is this:
Whether the query is a substring of the line of text.
It’s really simple, but if you query a six-word query string and that entire six-word string shows up in a line of text on a web page, that’s pretty significant. I think it’s significant for all the search engines and I’d be surprised if a web page that met that query substring for a particular page didn’t rank that page at No. 1, or close to it, for the query. I mean, the odds of any one web page (out of millions) having the exact six word query string (with all the words in the right order) that a random searcher enters into a search box are phenomenally low.
Sorry to say, that’s not particularly sophisticated when you think about it. But the technology to make it happen is. And I think Yahoo! has some pretty sophisticated technology tools. Still, Google is light years ahead of them. I think it may be because Google started out light years ahead.