In 2002, Jon Kleinberg wrote a paper about looking at how frequently terms and phrases might appear in the emails he received or the news articles he read, and how some terms would suddenly become popular over hours or days, and then lose that popularity. He named this after a networking term, referred to as burstiness.
For example, as a professor, he would receive a lot more emails that contained the word “prelim” in the few days before midterm exams.
The paper is Bursty and Hierarchical Structure in Streams, and paying attention to bursts of activity related to certain terms, like those described in the paper might tell us something interesting about the times that certain buzzwords became more popular.
Imagine taking this idea of the burstiness of phrases appearing in emails or news articles, and instead looked for burstiness of phrases appearing in search queries at a search engine. Would pages that include phrases that have suddenly become more popular in searches, over a short period of time, be pages that searchers might be more interested in seeing?
When people search for different query terms, a search engine can keep track of how frequently those terms are searched for in search logs which record the number of searches at the search engine for different terms. If there has been an increase or decrease in the frequency of searches for that query term, that increase or decrease in popularity could be noted.
Pages that have terms that are searched for frequently and terms that have seen an upsurge of searches over a period of days might be given a keyword usage score that could increase how well those pages rank in search results. Those popular terms could also be recommended to advertisers at a search engine, to take advantage of the increased popularity of the terms.
Those uses are explored in a recent patent application from Microsoft.
The search query burstiness patent application is:
Keyword Usage Score Based upon Frequency Impulse and Frequency Weight
Invented by Hua-Jun Zeng, Hua Li, Jian Hu, Han Peng, Zheng Chen, and Jian Wang
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20080301117
Published December 4, 2008
Filed June 1, 2007
A method and system for assessing keyword usage based on the frequency of usage of the keywords during various periods is provided.
A keyword usage measurement system is provided with the frequency of keywords during various periods. The measurement system then calculates a recent usage score for a keyword by combining a frequency impulse score for the keyword with a frequency weight for the keyword.
The frequency impulse score for a keyword indicates whether a recent change in the frequency of the keyword has occurred. The frequency weight for a keyword indicates a recent measure of the frequency of the keyword.
Examples of Increased Rankings for Pages Containing Bursty Search Terms
Imagine that there have been a lot of recent searches at a search engine for the term [New York Yankees] because of a winter player trade involving the Yankees. While many people regularly search for the team at a search engine using the phrase [New York Yankees], as rumors of the trade start, the number of searches for [New York Yankees] shows a rapid increase. If the trade is confirmed, even more, frequent searches are made for the term [New York Yankees].
During this time when the phrase [New York Yankees] has become very popular, someone searches for the term [baseball]. Because of the high frequency, and the rapid increase in searches for [New York Yankees], pages that show up in search results in a search for [baseball] that also contain many mentions of the phrase “New York Yankees” may rank higher in the search for [baseball] than they otherwise would because of the recent great popularity of the phrase [New York Yankees].
In another example, imagine that a current event, such as a devastating earthquake happens, and a search query burstiness takes place with people searching for terms such as “seismograph,” “Richter scale,” “tsunami,” much more frequently. If there is a way to measure the rapid increase of popularity of those search terms (a search query burstiness), pages that contain those terms might be given a boost in rankings when someone searches for the phrase [earthquake].