How Google Might Fill in Missing and Incorrect Data in its Knowledge Graph

Entities change all the time, and facts about them do as well. Imagine when Derek Jeter retires from playing baseball, that he might decide to become a coach. Or Tom Cruise acting in a new movie, and deciding to try directing it and producing it as well. And Scotland decides whether or not it should be independent of the UK after 300 years.

What we think of entities can change over time, when it comes to the type of entity they are, and the facts associated with them. When populations of places change, and they do on a regular basis, how does that information get updated? And unfortunately, sometimes some information never quite makes it to Google’s knowledge base.

A patent application published last week looks at some ways that a knowledge base might be updated when a question answering query is asked of it, and the search system notices that some information is missing.

Poster for using a library for greater knowledge.

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Images in Question Answers, Carousels, and Knowledge Panels at Google

When Google introduced us to the knowledge graph, it also introduced us to pictures and the possibility of other kinds of rich content (video, audio, etc.) in those knowledge panels, and pictorial lists displayed in carousels at the top of pages in response to a query, such as “What is the tallest building in the World?”

A carousel in response to  a question of 'what is the tallest building in the world?

A Google patent granted a couple of weeks ago, describes how Google processes search system queries, and might display knowledge graph answers to questions that include images. Here’s where they introduced carousels, in their page on the Knowledge Graph:

Google's Intro to carousels on the Google Knowledge Graph page.

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Google’s First Semantic Search Invention was Patented in 1999

This is officially part of the story I’m telling in a presentation I prepared for SMX East, in a couple of weeks in New York. The name of the session I’m in is “Hummingbird and the Entity Revolution,” which reminds me of a Prince song from the 1980s.

The story starts off with a student given a tour by another student whom he gets into a fight with. They liked fighting with each other, and ended up becoming close friends. They studied together, and when their supervising professor went away to Japan for a year, they stopped working on their advanced degrees, and played on the internet instead. They created something they called Backrub. It later had its name changed to Google, and many people in the present day think it is the internet.

The entrance to one of Google's buildings

On March 10, 1999, Sergey Brin filed a “Miscellaneous Incoming Letter” (this is what it is described as in the USPTO’s PAIR database). It’s a provisional patent titled Extracting Patterns and Relations from Scattered Databases Such as the World Wide Web (pdf) (Skip quickly past the first couple of pages. It becomes much more legible from the third page on.)

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Google Granted Patent on Using What You Watch on TV as a Ranking Signal

I’m going to have to turn up the sound on my TV, and decide carefully what to watch, and test this. It would be very interesting if it works. Is Google clued in to what you are watching on TV? If so, is that through a set top box, or an internet enabled television?

If true, will this change the way that I do keyword research? Will it alter how I create content for the web, or decide upon page titles or meta descriptions? I’m not sure, but I am surprised.

The patent says that it might monitor what’s on TV in your area, and look for queries that might be related to that information. So, if someone searches for “Eagles” and there’s a documentary about the band, the “Eagles” playing on TV in your area, that’s a signal that may influence the search results you receive.

Flowchart from the patent on using TV as a ranking signal

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Lessons Learned from Using Google’s Tagging and Extraction Data Highlighter Tool

I recently found a patent with two Google search engineers, Joshua Ain and Justin Boyan, listed as two of the three inventors. Last summer, at Google I/O in San Francisco, they joined together to talk about some tools that can more easily help webmasters add markup for structured data on the Web. The patent appears to be for Google’s Data Highlighter, which was one of those tools.

It inspired me to try to add structured data markup to my website. A task likely to fail for a few reasons.

I hadn’t read the patent yet last night, and I hadn’t done anything to improve the patterns found on my site, to make them more consistent. In other words, I learned the hard way, much like most non-developers, and non-programmers would.

The video below is an introduction to a number of Google tools, including the Google Data highlighter.

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Is Google Going to Marry their Knowledge Base with their Search Engine?

Google has been answering queries with its search engine for over 15 years, and has been showing us it can answer questions with facts from its Browsable Fact Repository and/or the Google Knowledge Graph.

Might Google at some point bring the two together?

To a degree, Google has been merging some results, showing a set of search results (from the search engine) and a knowledge panel (from the Knowledge Graph) on the same results page. But you could say that those are separate and unique entities on search results pages.

jim-thorpe

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What Ranking Signal is Better, HTTPS or FOAF markup, when Searcher and Searched Author are Connected?

Recently, Google announced that they would be ranking pages higher in search results when those pages use a secure protocol of https. The Google Webmaster Central blog told us so through Google Webmaster Trends Analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes, in HTTPS as a ranking signal. The use of https doesn’t necessarily make a page more relevant or more important for a search, but it could help lead to a more secure web.

Google was just granted a patent for assigning some searched sites to be deemed authoritative for a query that someone they are socially connected performed a search for. This isn’t for all queries, but rather just some queries that Google might determine are “trigger queries,” or queries that are presently popular.

And it’s not for all searchers, but only searchers that are connected to each other.

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Has Google Decided that you are Authoritative for a Query?

At Google and Bing, both search engines have been experimenting with relevance and search. Both have shown profile photographs of people whom you may be connected to at places such as Google+ (for Google) and at Facebook (For Bing) in search results that include them. Both may have changed rankings for those pages as well.

Google was showing authorship photos in search results for some authors who had set up authorship markup on their Google profiles and their web pages. Google also showed profile pictures in search results for some pages authored by some people that didn’t actually contain any authorship markup as long as those pages or domains were linked to by the author’s Google profile page as “contributors to”.

The author profiles would sometimes appear in front of articles appearing in search results for content written by specific authors from those “linked to” sources.

My links from my Google profile.

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