Google Enriched Results Patent

I’ve been exploring some of the different search results that we see at Google, including things such as rich snippets and question-answering results, and came across a couple of patent filings from Google that describe something called “Enriched Results.”

You’ve seen enriched results before. As the first of the patent filings tells us, these results tend to be for things such as:

  • Airlines flights – live flight status information
  • Athletes – player statistics
  • Sports – League Scores
  • Weather – local weather information
  • Financial topics – financial data; and
  • Television programs- programming schedules

enriched flight snippet from Google

enriched player stats for Tom Brady

Enriched results for college football

enriched Google result for manhattan weather

enriched Google Financial Stats for Google

The first of the patent filings is:

Enriching Search Results
Invented by Tal Cohen, Ziv Bar-Yossef, Igor Tsvetkov, Tomer Kol, Adi Mano, Oren Naim, Nitsan Oz, Pravir K. Gupta, Kavi J. Goel
Assigned to Google
US Patent Application 20120109941
Published May 3, 2012
Filed: May 27, 2011


Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for enhancing search results.

In one aspect, a method includes identifying a plurality of registered publishers for enriched search results and, for each registered publisher, obtaining enrichment information from the registered publisher and associating the enrichment information with a resource provided by the publisher. A query is received.

A plurality of responsive resources that are responsive to the query are identified. A first responsive resource is determined to be associated with enrichment information. An enriched search result is provided, the enriched search result identifying the first responsive resource and including the first responsive resource’s associated enrichment information.

This patent tells us about “registered publishers” who may have registered with Google in some manner that enables these enriched results to show up. While this sounds like Rich Snippets, it isn’t the result of using schema to get these types of results, but the exact mechanism isn’t explained well in this patent filing.

Becoming a Registered Publisher

I’ve done some searching for how to become a “registered publisher” and wasn’t successful in finding out more about this. Are there actually official registered publishers? If there are, are they site owners or content owners that have partnered with Google or agree to some kind of licensing agreement?

The patent application tells us this:

Registration information can be added to the registered publishers database in a number of ways:

  • Publishers could include registration information on a web page, such as in metadata for a home page for a domain. When Google crawls the web page, it may determines that the web page indicates that the publisher is requesting to be registered. Google may then add the registration information to the registered publishers database.
  • A publisher might register with Google using a registration web page, and someone from the publisher might enter the publisher’s registration information at the registration web page.
  • Someone associated with the publisher could provide the registration information to a system administrator for the search system. The system administrator adds the registration information to the registration information database.

This last alternative was the one that was most interesting to me:

  • The search engine may register publishers without any explicit registration action from the publishers. Google may determine that certain information on a web site is frequently updated and then register the publisher of the web site so that some of the frequently updated information is used to enrich search results for the web site.

The second patent filing describes this enriched results process in a different and more detailed manner, and a plugin that searchers might use to draw forth different enriched results. I haven’t seen any signs of such a plugin, but I will be searching for it to try to find out more.


There is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes at a search engine that bring us the results that we might see, and some of them aren’t explained well.

I’ve seen enriched results for a while, especially when it comes to things like Weather results and sports scores, but didn’t have a name for them, or any idea of how they might have been triggered.

We will explore some more of that with the next post.

It’s interesting that the patent filing tells us that some sites might be automatically considered to be a registered site by Google because they make frequently updated material available that searchers might be interested in, for use by searchers and the search engine.

6 thoughts on “Google Enriched Results Patent”

  1. Great stuff Bill. I’ve wondered myself whether or not Google has formal relationships with the sites they cite for things like sports scores or weather, and this goes a long way to answering this.

    Although it is, of course, possible that such partnerships exist but aren’t exposed. There’s probably a mix of both (Google selected “registered publishers” and publishers with which Google has explicit arrangements).

    When it comes to flight results, note the other broad category of Google publishers: advertisers. The disclaimer when you hover over the “Sponsored” information icon at the upper right hand side of the flight results is all sorts of fascinating:

    “Based on your search query, we think you are trying to find a flight. Clicking in this box will show you results from providers that can fulfil your request. Google may be compensated by some of these providers.”

    It’s the “may” in “may be compensated” I find so interesting. I think Google wants to provide comprehensive search results for flights, but can’t guarantee that all the airlines that should factor in the results will pony up. So does it provide preferential results for paying customers? Omit some non-paying airlines? Or treat everyone equally (which would seem to obviate any reason for the airlines to actually advertise)?

  2. Nice takeaway there Bill! However, lots of websites do add and update fresh content to their webpages, but Google doesn’t crawl them all. This patent thing may be triggering those results IMO but there seems to be a some kind of formal partnerships with these sites.

  3. Hi Aaron,

    We don’t see a lot of the relationships being built that allow for the sharing of data from one source on the Web to another – it gets shared so seamlessly that those relationships really don’t exist for us. I’ve wondered for a long time about how data flowed from sources like the nfl and nba and mlb to search results. The scores of the games don’t belong to the teams that played the games, and the right to report upon them isn’t limited to those leagues as well. But the nature of the relationships isn’t clear, so I was pretty excited to see these patents describing how those relationships might work.

    I’ve been more interested in how information gets presented and portrayed on a search engine, and how those results get triggered by queries, but the relationships are pretty interesting as well.

  4. Hi Ajay,

    The patents aren’t going to give us any insights into the explicit details behind those relationships, but they do give us a little more detail into how Google works. I’ve been intrigued by the differences between things like rich snippets and enriched snippets, and the deprecated subscribed sites program. It’s interesting seeing how these programs have worked and have replaced each other in some ways. The enriched results have been around for a while, but I had no idea how they were envision to work, which is why I dug into this topic. 🙂

  5. Love this particular patent. It seems to be in line with their Google Cards feature on smart phones. This is getting more robust and tracks shipments, weather, and articles that I might interesting based on what I’ve read in the past.

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