The patent doesn’t tell us about how such natural language direct answers are chosen by the search engine, but the following document, which shares the same authors as the inventors of the patent, and which was filed by them as a provisional patent, does give us some ideas on how those are found on the web.
We know that Google is looking for responses from pages that they consider to be “authoritative” pages.
I am on the first week of my move from Northern Virginia to Carlsbad California, and I got to witness a historical local event last night. A sign was installed along a highway that goes along the Pacific Coast and through towns as it winds through the way. It’s something of a replica of a sign naming the Village of Carlsbad that was around approximately 100 years ago.
Last night, the town celebrated the lighting of the new sign, for the first time.
Search Engine Land has been referring to question-answering type results as Direct Answers, since they don’t seem to follow the normal rules of search results that return documents matching keywords in a query. Instead, they were using an approach to try to take advantage of both question answering and keyword matching, as shown in the image below:
In November, Google published an international patent that describes providing natural language type answers to queries.
Those answers focus less upon finding pages on the Web about those queries, and more on Natural Language results for the queries.
Here’s an example, from the patent filing of a set of natural language answers to a query about “symptoms of mono”.
The patent has a number of interesting and complex issues, and rather than trying to cover it all in one day, I’m planning on breaking it down into five parts to start the year off.
SEO by the Sea will be relocating to the west coast next week, and posting might be a little light at the start of the week, so this series is intended to kick the year off with a look at how Google has been combining both web page indexing and ranking with data indexing, like in the search result example above.
In the days leading up to Christmas, Barbara Starr sent me a link to a patent with a note that it would make a tremendous Christmas blog post. I absolutely agreed, and am writing and sharing that post with you now.
When you see a patent where it’s based upon sharing joy and happiness, it is the kind of thing that makes you want to share, and to find more like it. In this case, it’s a patent that Google acquired when they purchased Nik Software in 2012, so that it could be used with Google Plus, to automatically edit some photos into animations and into stories.
Representatives from Google announced recently that they would no longer be updating their PageRank toolbar annotations for web pages. Google had been updating those 3-4 times a year for over a decade.
Does this news indicate that Google is no longer using PageRank, or that PageRank has changed in some significant way? (The ranking signal isn’t the toolbar annotation itself, which was too infrequently updated to be an accurate reflection of what PageRank might have been for a page)
Could it be a sign that Google has found something different?