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November 13, 2008

New Google patent - more personalization

Google publish (another) patent on the 11th November.  This one is interesting because it deals with serving up queries in a preferred language.  It means that your search is no longer limited to English sources exclusively if you're in the UK or US or somewhere, because you can specify a language you'd prefer results to be in.  This doesn't mean all your results are in your chosen language but Google will also serve those as well as your English results.  You could also use dialects if you wanted and also dead languages (Latin, Greek...) AND...Klingon.

You might want Italian results although you are French, because you can read both, so why not? It makes things much easier for people who study or who speak several different languages.  If you speak 3 languages, you could be missing out on great information available in German or Lao for example.  I'd be interested to know how translators feel about this.

The invention  dynamically determines the preferred languages and ranks the search results.  The system can determine what you preferred and least preferred languages are by evaluating queries, user interface and search result characteristics.  

Query terms are not a good way of determining the language preference because for example, proper nouns are for the most part language independent, so "Marlena Shaw" is always going to be the same.  It gives no clue as to what language you want your results in.  

Also, keyword searches are not complete enough to determine a language preference, because there's no context.   Also individual words can be language-independent or language-misleading.  The example used in the patent is the "Waldorf Astoria".


These results are going to have to be ranked to favour the results in the preferred language whilst still allowing for the other results to appear.  It's done by using a predetermined shifting factor or by adjusting a numerical score assigned to each search result by a weighting factor and resorting the search results. 

I hope this happens soon, it would be really interesting to get multiple language results.  This is once again, another example of how personalisation is charging towards us at full throttle.  Cool.

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Science for SEO by Marie-Claire Jenkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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