Might a twang or a drawl influence the search results you see at Google? If you’re prone to calling an elevator a lift, and tend to speak the Queen’s English in an accent similar to hers, you might see different search results than if you grew up in the Bronx or in New Orleans. If you sport a Polish accent, or a Spanish one, and you perform voice searches on your phone, would receiving results in Polish or in Spanish because of your accent be a problem or a benefit? If your accent is Australian, and you search for “football” while in the US, would it surprise you to see some Australian Rules Football results returned to you?
Search engines have been using something called an Automated Search Recognition (“ASR”) engine to try to eliminate or reduce accents in voice searches by treating those as if they were noise. But the value of that noise might also be recognized as another signal that might improve search results.
A new patent was granted to Google yesterday that explores the topic in more depth. For instance, it provides this example of how a search engine might use such accent information:
Continue reading The Noise Becomes the Signal – Voice Queries and Accent Scores
Last week, I wrote a post on the Webimax blog about an approach that Google might take in response to the fact that there are often so many results in response to a particular query. The post, How Google May Re-Rank Search Results Based the Context of What You Click, described how Google might re-rank your search results for related followup queries within the same search session. Search for [jaguar] and choose a result related to the Jacksonville football team, and Google might boost results related to the football team or sports in general in your search results within the same search session.
Google might try to use a “Contextual Click Model” like I described in that post, to try to identify related sites within sets of search results. They would do that by looking at its search query log files for search sessions from multiple searchers to cluster those clicks into related categories.
There are other ways that Google might potentially categorize documents that show up in search results. One place that they might look at is knowledge base information tied to search query log information, to create some categories. For example a search for [jaguar] on Wikipedia shows a number of possible topics, including the car, the cat, a band from Iceland, the Jacksonville football team, a Formula One racing team, an Atari game console, a type of Fender guitar, and many others.
Continue reading Will Google Add Categories to Search Results, and Let You Edit Them?
One of the interesting features at Twitter is the near real-time trending topics section which enables you to see hot topics that are the subject of tweets. Twitter allows you to see tweets about these topics on a world wide scale, or nation wide, or even on a smaller regional scope. With Google Trends, you can see topics that are recently popular at the search engine as well. But many of those are popular topics over a period of hours or even days. What if instead you could see hot topics in Google searches in much shorter periods, such as over the last 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes? What if you could see these trending searches on a nation wide basis or for much smaller regions? I’d love to see what hot searches were taking place over the last half hour in my part of Virginia, for instance.
A Google patent granted this week explores the topic, and describes such a hot query system.
Method and system for displaying real time trends
Invented by Hiroshi Kuraoka and Takayuki Tei
Assigned to Google Inc.
US Patent 8,140,562
Granted March 20, 2012
Filed: March 24, 2009
Continue reading Google Near Realtime Hot Queries Patent
A couple of years back, Google was granted a patent on an approach to identifying synonyms by looking at and comparing queries that searchers used to find information. The patent was Determining query term synonyms within query context, and I covered it in my post How Google May Expand Searches Using Synonyms for Words in Queries.
A month or so after that patent was granted and I wrote my post, Google researcher Steven Baker published a blog post at the Official Google Blog titled Helping computers understand language, where he announced that Google would start including synonyms for query terms in search results when the search engine thought that the synonym was a good match for a query term.
Car Mechanic or Auto Mechanic or Both?
Continue reading More Ways a Search Engine Might Identify Synonyms to Expand Queries With
The meaning behind search queries can shift over time, with some results being more relevant at different times of the year, and others becoming meaningful seemingly out of nowhere.
Search for “Independence Day,” around July 4th and chances are you want to learn about the holiday in the United States. Do the same search around August 15th, and you may be more likely to want to learn about the holiday in India. The same search back on July 3, 1996 might have been about the Will Smith movie of the same name.
An earthquake in one part of the world might quickly trigger many searches for more information around the globe.
Search engines tend to be oblivious to those types of changes, or at least they used to be. We’re seeing more “news” items making their way into Web search results pages for topics that are timely and reported upon in the media.
Continue reading Does Bing Time Shift Search Results?
Google has received a great deal of attention recently for immediate updates to search results while searchers type query terms into the Google search box. Yahoo was granted a patent on a similar process this past March, but there seems to be a difference in Yahoo’s approach to Instant Search. Instead of updating search results for every letter typed for a query, the Yahoo process may only show updates when Yahoo believes those might provide meaningful results to a viewer, before a query is fully formed.
Some of the recent discussion about Google Instant has pointed out that Yahoo had developed an “Instant Search” back in 2005, though Yahoo’s Instant Search never made it to Yahoo’s main search page the way that Google’s has now. Would Yahoo bring Instant Search to their display of search results, even with Bing powering the search database behind Yahoo? Shashi Seth, the Senior Vice President of Yahoo! Search Products, hinted at the possibility about ten days ago in a Yahoo! Search Blog post, Back to the Future: Innovation is Alive in Search
The patent is:
Continue reading Could Yahoo Launch a Smarter Instant Search?
About ten days ago, Rob Ousbey posted a video on his blog showing Google streaming updates to search results as he typed letters into a search box. As he typed out his query, not only did he see a dropdown of suggested queries, but the search results themselves actually changed as he added letters.
According to the comments in his post, Live Updating Google Search Results, these kind of streaming live results have been available through Google’s Ajax Search API for a while, but Rob’s post was the first documentation of Google testing the approach live on their own site. The first mention I’ve seen of Google immediately updating search results as someone typed their query was in a Google patent filing that I wrote about back in 2005, Can Google Read Your Mind? Processing Predictive Queries.
But Google isn’t the only one to file a patent on automatically updating search results.
Apple was granted a patent this week on a very similar process:
Continue reading Apple to Take on Google in Showing Immediate Search Results?
Does Google favor big brands when showing search results? That question has been bandied about on the Web for a while, but the answer may be more complicated than just a matter of brands.
The question arose this morning on Malcolm Coles’ blog, in his post Google treating brand names in search terms as site: searches? after Malcolm very astutely discovered certain sets of search results showing more that 2 results from the same domain.
Rather than just looking for brands, it’s more likely that Google is trying to understand when a query includes an entity – a specific person, place, or thing, and if it can identify an entity, that identification can influence the search results that you see.
I’ve written about the topic before, when Google was granted a patent named Query rewriting with entity detection back in May of 2009, which I covered in Boosting Brands, Businesses, and Other Entities: How a Search Engine Might Assume a Query Implies a Site Search.
Continue reading Not Brands but Entities: The Influence of Named Entities on Google and Yahoo Search Results