Google Obtains Patent; Uses TV Programming to Influence Search Results
After using different signals—such as search history, geographical locations, and linking patterns on the web—to improve its search results, Google recently figured out a new method to enhance its search results with the help of users’ television sets.
The search engine giant was granted a patent today called the System and method for enhancing user search results by determining a television program currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device. Under this process, Google may now identify what TV channels and programs users are watching, and use this information to tailor search results.
This development was further elaborated in the abstract for the patent:
A computer implemented method for using search queries related to television programs. A server receives a user’s search query from an electronic device. The server then determines, in accordance with the search query and television program related information for television programs available at a location associated with the electronic device during a specific time window, a television program currently being displayed in proximity to the electronic device, wherein the television program related information includes program descriptions for a plurality of television programs being broadcast for the associated location.
This means that if a user is searching for something using Google and happens to be watching a television program at the same time, Google’s search algorithm would personalize the user’s search results according to the information gathered from that program.
Bill Slawski, an SEO patent guru, gave an example on his blog, “The patent says that it might monitor what’s on TV in your area, and look for queries that might be related to that information. So, if someone searches for ‘Eagles’ and there’s a documentary about the band, the ‘Eagles’ playing on TV in your area, that’s a signal that may influence the search results you receive.” [See Figure 1]
While this process is a major development for Google’s search ranking algorithm, it is worth noticing that to some extent, Google has already been using this type of process as part of Google Now—Google’s personal intelligence assistant that provides information about TV programs through the use of a TV Card.
There is no guaranteeing, however, that Google will decide to use TV programs as a means to specify search results just because they’ve obtained a patent. Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, previously addressed this common misconception about patents saying, “Just because a patent [has been issued], that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are using that patent at that moment.”
What do you think of this new search ranking method by Google? Will this change the way you do keyword research? Share your comments below.
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