How Google May Use Entity References to Answer Questions

Added October 2, 2019 – the patent this post is about was granted on July 2, 2019: Question answering using entity references in unstructured data – US patent 10,339,190

A Google patent application explores how Google may use entity references to answer factual questions from unstructured Web pages and results rather than from more structured sources such as Freebase or Wikipedia. The processes described in the patent are pretty interesting, and they might be more familiar to an SEO-trained audience than a Semantic Web one, like a result that ranks well because of a “query deserves freshness” approach.

They also avoid a problem for the search engines that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

“What happens when the world changes in some dramatic fashion, such as a country ceasing to exist, or a well-known figure passing away?”

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Patent Free Fridays

I’ve decided that it’s time for something of a change at SEO by the Sea, and so I am introducing Patent Free Fridays to the blog.

Teddy Roosevelt in Action

Patent Free Fridays do not always have to happen on a Friday, but they do have to be patent free, at least if they don’t involve a patent that is from a search engine or a tech company. If I find a patent about how to make a better snowman (and there are a few out there), I might use it for patent free Friday.

If I write about finding out that an inventor in my town patented a flying motorcycle, and that I’ve now developed a habit of looking into the sky every time I walk out of my cottage, that could be a good patent free Friday post. Unfortunately rumor has it that he passed away (I don’t know if he was in an accident), but I don’t know if he had a protege or not, so I’m going to keep looking.

If I have an idea for an invention, and I write it up in a patent style, that also fits into patent free Fridays.

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At Pubcon, Presenting on a Semantic Timeline at Google

Tomorrow morning, I’m presenting on the Semantic Web at Google at Pubcon in Las Vegas. I’ve included my presentation deck here to use as a kicking off point for further discussion.

Changes to what Google shows in search results have been difficult to miss, from many different types of rich snippets to recent additions of search boxes in search results and Google showing snippets from pages that contain both query answering and question answering results mixed together.

Thanks to Barbara Starr for taking a look at the presentation, and for suggesting that I look for a Google patent for rich snippets which I hadn’t included. I went searching the patent in the US Patent office and found a good candidate for it, and will probably post a more detailed look at that one in the near future. It’s Generating specialized search results in response to patterned queries.

Here’s my presentation:

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Google Acquires 55 Yahoo! Patent Filings

It was a surprise to see a number of Yahoo! patents listed in Google’s assignment database as having been assigned to Google. With news recently that Yahoo would be closing the Yahoo Directory, that seemed like a strategic choice. Now I’m wondering if we will ever see an independent Yahoo Search Engine ever again once their deal to have Microsoft supply search results to them ends.

The USPTO assignment database doesn’t disclose financial details of transactions like this, so we don’t know things like how much the transaction cost or if there were licensing agreements accompanying the transaction.

A number of these patents seem to have orginated at Yahoo!, but some were acquired by Yahoo when they acquired companies such as Altavista and Inktomi. Fastforward Technologies specialized in multi streaming broadcast technologies and was originally acquired by Inktomi.

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At SMX East; Presenting on Google and the Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is making an even stronger appearance recently at Google than it has in the past. With knowledge panels, carousels listing all kinds of things (and people and places), structured snippets merging query answers with question answers into a single snippet, OneBoxes of many different kinds, and even Hummingbird responding better to longer and more complex queries, it’s the future of Google.

I’m presenting on it this morning at the Javit’s Center in Manhattan at SMX (Search Marketing Expo) East, in a session titled “Hummingbird and the Entity Revolution”

msimmonds-smx-east

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