Direct Answers: Extracting Text from Pages Citations

This is the last post in a series about Google’s International patent application Natural Language Search Results for Intent Queries.

This section was inspired by the citations list at the end of a paper used by the listed inventors as a provisional patent, that preceded that patent. The paper was Scalable Attribute-Value Extraction from Semi-Structured Text (pdf).

I sometimes like to start looking through the documents I see listed as citations or footnotes in a paper I find interesting, As I started looking at the documents in that paper, I found many of them to be very interesting.

And then an idea struck me.

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Direct Answers: How Answers are Extracted from Web Pages

I’ve been writing recently about a patent from Google on Direct Answers, and how Google might take those from authoritative sources, using an intent template process (“what are the symptoms for [measles, flu, athlete’s foot,ebola]”) to include many direct answer responses to natural language queries, while also showing keyword-based search results.

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.

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Lighting a Sign In Carlsbad

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.

The lighting of the new sign in Carlsbad was a historical event.
The lighting of the new sign in Carlsbad was a historical event.

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Direct Answers – Using Query Intent Templates to Identify Answers

Almost a year ago, Search Engine Land published an article titled Google Search OneBox Answers Are Getting More Detailed.

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:

Intent-based Answer plus Keyword-based  Snippet Results
Intent-based Answer plus Keyword-based
Snippet Results

This post is the third of a five part series that takes a look at natural language answers showing up in search results, possibly under Google’s patent application, Natural Language Search Results for Intent Queries.

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Direct Answers – Taken from Authority Websites

Part One of this series – Direct Answers – Natural Language Search Results For Intent Queries

One of the most important parts of the “Natural Language Search Results for Intent Queries” patent application is how it describes both queries and search results as being in “natural language.”

By natural language, it means ordinary conversational words and sentences, rather than some formalized and highly structured request for results like you might see in a programming language.

As the patent tells us:

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Direct Answers – Natural Language Search Results for Intent Queries

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”.

Natural Language results on a query for 'Symptoms of Mono' from authoritative sources.
Natural Language results on a query for ‘Symptoms of Mono’ from authoritative sources.

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.

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Have a Magical Christmas, and a Happy New Year

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.

This animation of my great nephew hiding from the camera is a memorable moment for me.
This animation of my Great Nephew hiding from the camera is a memorable moment for me.

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.

The particular patent that Barbara sent me a link to is Automatic identification of a notable moment. This seemed to be the passage that we both found interesting in the patent, and commented upon to each other almost simultaneously: Continue reading Have a Magical Christmas, and a Happy New Year

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A Replacement for PageRank?

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)

We've been told that Google will no longer be updating this annotation or proxy for PageRank.
We’ve been told that Google will no longer be updating this annotation or proxy for PageRank.

Could it be a sign that Google has found something different?

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