Google Patent Granted on Fresh Related Search Suggestions

When you search at Google, in addition to search results, Google often returns a set of search suggestions that might be related to your query. Last month, I wrote about how some of those suggested query refinements might be created follow a method invented in part by Ori Allon, in the post How Google is Generating Query Refinements the Orion Way. But that’s probably not the only source of search suggestions. A Google patent granted this week looks at how Google could grab additional refinements from very recent sources.

For example, the following search for “North Korea” shows a couple of very recent earthquake listings:

A screenshot from the patent showing search suggestions that include a couple of very recent suggestions showing earthquakes.

Such suggestions aren’t just relevant to the query itself, but also relevent to news-type results that match the query as well. Those news-type results would be within a recent period of time, such as in the las week, or day, or even within a number of hours or minutes.

By “news-type results,” Google isn’t referring to just news articles, but also new blog posts, micro and mini blog posts (such as tweets and status updates), book-marking sites, new image results, new video results, and new web pages.

In addition to looking at how “new” those results might be, user-behavior such as click-through rates on search results responsive to queries might also be considered.

The patent does provide more details on how these fresh search suggestions might be ranked and chosen.

Fresh related search suggestions
Invented by Rajat Mukherjee, Abhinandan S. Das, and Adam Westall
Assigned to Google
US Patent 8,412,699
Granted April 2, 2013
Filed June 12, 2009

Abstract

Methods, systems, apparatus, including computer program products, for providing fresh related search suggestions in response to a user submitted query are presented. In one implementation, a plurality of prior queries are selected wherein each of the prior queries was submitted as a search query a number of times during a recent time period and satisfies a criterion.

For each of the prior queries, the prior is selected as a candidate query based on one or more of: a determination that search results responsive to the prior query include a number of news results that satisfy a second threshold, and relevance data indicative of user behavior relative to the search results responsive to the prior query. In response to receiving a user query, one or more candidate queries are selected that match the user query.

Take-Aways

A couple of years ago, Google was showing realtime search results, with an search interface addition that showed results from Twitter’s data hose, and some additional results. When Google Plus was released, realtime search was suspended, with Google promising that it would return once it was integrated with Google Plus. What went unsaid in that initial announcement from Google was that their deal with Twitter to use a data stream of tweets had expired.

Those realtime results included content from more sources than Twitter, and did a decent job of turning search results into a realtime monitoring system of terms you might search for.

I’ve tried a few searches that would probably have recent search suggestions if this approach from the patent was presently being used, and those searches didn’t return any recent suggestions.

I suspect that Google will bring back realtime results at some point, but the format might not be the realtime results Google displayed in the past, and may not even include the kind of “fresh” search suggestions described in this patent.

Then again, I’ve been waiting for realtime results for almost 2 years now.

I’m wondering if people are much less likely to use Google Plus like they have with Twitter, providing updates that focus upon recent events.

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16 thoughts on “Google Patent Granted on Fresh Related Search Suggestions”

  1. Hi Bill,
    When I search anything on Google, now it doesn’t give me any related search suggestion instead I would have results of those suggestions directly below the actual results of the query. Do you know why It is happening?

  2. Hi Bill
    One of my recent frustrations from Google is the use of Key words and the way larger companies like employment websites can dominate the use of a Keyword. There are now many “Job Search” Websites online and they are finding their way onto page one with common job descriptions, for example, “Digital Marketing Specialist”. This is the description of a persons job, what they call themselves and what they do. Its also used as job description, although the Employment websites are showing in front of Digital Marketing Specialist companies.

    I think Google should be looking more into relevancy when they penalise one group and another group can find a way around gaining points on Google. I cannot understand how the relevancy test stacks up when the content of a job posting should really be classed as keyword stuffing.

    Regards
    Paul

  3. Interesting and informative! Honestly, I unconsciously use Twitter to know what are some of the most recent events. With numerous active users logged in, it is a good source of information and inbound traffic (based on ColibriTool – http://colibritool.com). Though the latter is reliable, not much can be said with the former (information) :)

  4. I depend on real time Google news for my news and research what changes have occurred, especially with breaking news events. I’m hoping they maintain it and quit messing around with it.

  5. Not sure if it’s just because I’m getting older but I’m finding nowadays I have to append “2013” to my searchstrings in Google to get anything recent or uptodate. Else I end up with lots of 2008 onwards data that for most of my searchs is pointless since its software version based.

  6. Hi Bill,
    This shouldn’t be much of a problem for online news and media sites, since the information there is current by default. The challenge is for standard online businesses and marketers to keep up a steady flow of keyword-focussed content on a regular basis to ensure they get included in related searches. Also totally agree with Paul Murphy’s comment above and believe that the issue of relevancy needs to be addressed.
    Regards,
    Dee

  7. I’ve been using the Google related search terms for my SEO. I believe customers look at those, and it may be a good idea to use these as my keywords too. For example, I use senior products as keywords, but the related search terms adds search terms I might not have thought of. For example the related search keyword term senior shopping came up, something I had not thought of.

  8. I think that Donna has a good idea to add some of these related search terms to a page’s meta tag keywords. Obviously those phrases are being actively used by searchers. Thanks for the idea, and I think I’ll try updating a few of my pages to see if it helps!

  9. Bill, I have always read that you should keep fresh content on your site as it helps with Google ranking, but I have done some tests on various sites and notice when I update the content I will drop in rank for a few months and then move my way back up. I have one website that I have not touched since it was launched and it continues to stay at the top of the results. How can I avoid losing rank when updating fresh content on the home page?

  10. I miss Google RealTime search. I hope they bring it back soon. I found myself using it at least a few times a week. Of course now I just goto search.twitter.com.

  11. Interesting and it makes sense for fresh content to be at the top. However, what this means for bloggers is that there is now a need to stay ahead of trending topics and write articles and reactions to news in your niche. This is true even if the main point of your site is to provide valuable “how to” type articles.

  12. Hi Ethan,

    If you’re in business and you’re serious about it, you’re going to be spending time and effort keeping up with trending topics within your niche anyway. Might as well use blogging as a way to do that.

  13. I would like to think, in time, real time search will be back when Google+ gets big enough and has the data to produce relevant results. For a brief time we saw Google+ posts showing up in Google News (this may still be happening) so it stands to reason that Real Time search will be back when Google+ is big enough.

  14. Hi Jesse,

    I would like to think the same thing, and I felt the same way about realtime search from Google with Google + posts replacing Twitter results.

    I do think that we will see Google showing breaking news once again, and I loved the feature. But the longer I think about it, and the longer we all wait, I’m not sure that Google + is used in the same way that Twitter is by its users, to share breaking news.

  15. Thanks Bill for your tireless efforts in finding info that helps us better understand the behemoth of search… and the tiddler of taxpayers.
    @Paul – I agree with you and your comment got me thinking… if I was a search engine I’d be inclined to use my News algos for jobs.
    @All is that such a dumb idea, am I missing something obvious about why they wouldn’t?

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