How a Search Engine Might Determine Whether a Search Involves a Geographical Intent

Many web sites involve businesses or organizations that provide goods or services or information relevant to people at a specific location, like the location of a hotel or a dentist’s office in a certain city, or building regulations for a specific town. Many searchers use search queries that may not include geographic information in a way that makes it easy for a search engine to help those searchers find those web sites.

If a search engine can understand whether a search involves a specific geographical location from a searcher’s query, it can provide a richer set of results that include information about that location.

This is true regardless of whether or not the location was even part of the query. For example, if I search for “pizza,” there’s a decent chance that I’m looking for a pizza place nearby.

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Google’s Paid Search Human Evaluators

A newly granted patent from Google provides details on how advertising from Google may be evaluated by human evaluators…

Last September, Scott Huffman, leader of Google’s Search Evaluation Team, told us about some of the efforts behind the scenes to measure and improve the quality of Google’s search results in a post at the Official Google Blog titled Search evaluation at Google. As one part of the review process that they perform, the search engine may use human reviewers:

Human evaluators. Google makes use of evaluators in many countries and languages. These evaluators are carefully trained and are asked to evaluate the quality of search results in several different ways. We sometimes show evaluators whole result sets by themselves or “side by side” with alternatives; in other cases, we show evaluators a single result at a time for a query and ask them to rate its quality along various dimensions.

Google also uses human evaluators to look at the quality of paid advertising shown through Google’s advertising programs. Here’s a snippet from a classified that Google is presently running for a temporary Ads Quality Rater:

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Predictive Search Query Suggestions

When you start typing a query into a search box at many search engines, you may see a dropdown appear under the search box which offers selectable suggestions for query terms even before you may have finished typing. The suggestions may also provide alternative URLs for web pages if you are typing the address of a web page into the search box.

We’ve seen a few patent filings in the past that describe this kind of behavior, but they haven’t gone into a lot of detail about how those specific suggestions might have been chosen.

A patent application published by Google this week gives us a little more insight into the search suggestions that it offers. Interestingly, it’s possible that the query suggestions that I see might be different than the ones that you may be offered, based upon things such as whether or not either of us:

  • Is using a mobile device to connect to the search engine or a desktop computer
  • Might be identifiable as a member of a group profile interested in certain topics or categories of sites
  • Has a search history that the search engine can use to bias those suggestions towards something we are interested in
  • Are viewing a specific page which has a specific profile attached to it, and are using a search toolbar for our search
  • May be connecting to the Web at different connection speeds, or are using different connection types
  • Could have set our browsing preferences differently in our browser or through the search engine for things such as preferred language
  • Others

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Measuring Google TV Advertising and Privacy

Google’s advertising model goes beyond the Web to places like televison. Yesterday, the Official Google Blog ran a post on TV advertising through Google, Tuning in to TV data, which told us that they are gauging interest in ads shown on TV by whether or not viewers change channels during commercials. A video featuring Google’s Dan Zigmond discusses how television ads might retain audiences:

I wonder about the approach, personally. When you’re watching TV and a commercial comes on, do you change the channel to see what else is on? Do you get up and grab a snack, or run a brief errand? Or, do you pay as much attention to the commercials as you do the show that surrounds them? If you do stay in front of the screen and pay attention to the advertising, do you change the channel if you don’t like an ad, or do you suffer through it knowing that it will be gone very soon?

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Should Search Engines Refer Searchers to Other Search Engines?

Do you have a favorite search engine? Is there a particular reason why you use the search engine that you do?

Do you use more than one search engine regularly? Have you switched from using one search engine regularly to another one?

If you ran a search engine, you would probably want to understand why people shift from one search engine to another, either temporarily or permanently. And you might be interested in seeing if you can identify why and when these shifts take place, and a way to predict when such a changeover might happen.

Microsoft has been exploring why people switch search engines, and have filed for a patent on predicting when someone might switch from one search engine to another. It seems like an odd subject for a patent application, and they even tell us that one behavior might indicate such a switch might be when someone submits a query for “Google” in Microsoft’s Live Search.

The patent filing describes studies that Microsoft has conducted where they collected information about searchers switching to different search engines, and provides some details on how the ability to make such a prediction can be used by a search engine in a number of ways…

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Search on the Seas: Google Water-Based Data Center Patent Granted

Imagine a fleet of sea-worthy vessels being able to deliver computing needs to people without having to send information cross country, but rather anchored on the seas nearby.

Now consider data centers on those ships being powered by the waves and cooled by the waters.

Google was granted a patent on a water-based data center today:

Water-based data center
Invented by Jimmy Clidaras, David W. Stiver, and William Hamburgen
Assigned to Google
Granted: April 28, 2009
Filed February 26, 2007

Abstract

A system includes a floating platform-mounted computer data center comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the plurality of computing units.

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Google Local Search, Categories, and the What and Where of Local Map Listings

A few of the workings behind the scenes at Google Local Search have been recently exposed through a patent granted to Google today, and a pending patent application for the search giant that was published in January.

They might make you think a little differently about how Google Local Search works, and one presents an interesting question about a difference between local search results at Google Maps, and in Google’s Web search.

Categories and Local Search

The granted patent was originally filed in December of 2004, and it describes the categories that some local searches are placed within by the search engine.

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How Google Might Top Search Results with Additional Information

How would you feel about Google showing information above search results (taken from one of those results) in response to a query, to give searchers a sense of the the information provided in the results on that page?

For example, imagine performing a search at Google for the word “burns” and getting back a set of search results with a paragraph or two above the results that provide information on how to treat burns, taken a page in the search results. Sound like a good idea?

Choosing What Information to Display

How would Google decide to display information about burn treatment instead of the medical condition itself, or information about someone with the name Burns (such as the comedian George Burns)?

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Getting Information about Search and SEO Directly from the Search Engines