Google has been awarded a patent for a “system and method for providing preferred language ordering of search results”. This means that Google can serve up search results based on your preferred language.
In this latest patent, there are 83 claims. I’ve picked out several of them that I would call “important” and detailed them below:
1. A method, comprising: receiving, from a user, a search query; performing a search based on the search query to identify search results in a plurality of search result languages; identifying a particular language for the search results based on characteristics of the search query, characteristics of a user interface via which the search query is received, and characteristics of the search results; ordering the search results to create an ordered list of search results; determining whether the search results in the ordered list of search results are in the particular language; adjusting the ordering of one of the search results among other ones of the search results to create an adjusted list of search results when the one of the search results is in the particular language; presenting the adjusted list of search results; and permitting the user to toggle between presentation of the adjusted list of search results and the ordered list of search results.
Based on the search query, they will identify the language based on the characteristics on the query. So, if your search query is in English, they will identify the language based on the characteristics of the “user interface” (i.e., Google’s web interface) where you enter the search query. I believe that if you search at Google Spain that they would identify that you probably want to search results in Spanish. I believe that they could also obviously identify your preferred language based on what you specify in the preferences.
Google will create an ordered list of search results (perhaps in the background), determine whether the search results in the ordered list are in the particular language, and “change” or “adjust” the search results if one of the search results is in the particular language. They will then allow the user to toggle between the adjusted list of search results and the ordered list of search results.
2. A method according to claim 1, where identifying the particular language includes: determining the particular language based on the search query by evaluating at least one of a language used in the search query or a character encoding used in the search query.
This seems obvious: they will identify the language based on the query you use. If they can determine that you are searching in Spanish, they will deliver Spanish search results. Seems simple enough to me.
6. A method according to claim 5, where identifying the particular language includes: evaluating a language used in a majority of the search results to identify the particular language.
They will look at the search results and evaluate the language used in a majority of the search results to identify the language. This is the first time that I have heard that they not only will look at the query that YOU use but they will look at the current search results to determine a language.
8. A method according to claim 1, further comprising: assigning a numerical score to the search results; and adjusting the numerical score of at least some of the search results in the particular language.
This is interesting. There’s a numerical score assigned to the search results and they will adjust the numerical score of at least “some” of the search results in the language. Perhaps this numerical score is PageRank? Perhaps.
21. A system according to claim 20, where: the search result orderer demotes the search results in a language other than the particular language by a predefined shifting factor.
Again, we’re talking about a number. This talks about changing the search results and demoting some search results if they’re in something other than the preferred language: and changing it based on a predefined “shifting factor”.
22. A system according to claim 21, wherein the predefined shifting factor substantially equals two (2.0).
Well, apparently the predefined shifting factor is two. Does this mean that the PageRank would go down 2 points if the search result is not in the preferred language? That’s just my guess, perhaps Google is the only one who really knows.
33. A system according to claim 12, where the memory further stores instructions for implementing: a language selector selecting a second language that is different from the particular language.
34. A system according to claim 12, where the memory further stores instructions for implementing: a language selector including one or more related languages with the particular language.
This part of the patent goes into determining the other languages that they will present to us (figuring out what other language to let us toggle back and forth). So, if you use a search query in Spanish they would also allow you to toggle between Spanish search results and another language such as English. This is how they would determine that other language.
42. A method according to claim 35, further comprising: ordering the search results based on a match of a language of such search results to the particular language.
They will change the order of the search results based on a “match” of the language.
69. A system according to claim 58, wherein the search query request message and each search result response message is HTTP-compliant.
This is interesting: there’s something to do with http compliance. But, it looks like it’s tied to the search query and whether or not the search result response message is HTTP compliant.
User preferred and less preferred languages are determined based on an evaluation of search query, user interface, and search result characteristics. Search query characteristics are determined from metadata describing the search query. User interface characteristics are determined also using the search query metadata, as well as client-side and server-side preferences and the Internet protocol (IP) address of the client.
Based on several factors, including your search result query (the keyword phrase you use when you search Google), the user interface (what you’ve chosen as your preferred language), and the actual search results, as well as search query data, and client-side (your browser) and your IP address (your location), the search results will change.
What does all of this mean?
Well, what does all of this really mean? We are getting to a point in time where the search results are going to be personalized. There will no longer be a “number one ranking” that’s the same for everyone “across the board”. We’re getting to the point where Google has the technology and the know-how to deliver personalized search results based on many different factors. There is a belief out there that if search engine results are personalized they will be more relevant. I tend to agree.