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Time-shift: how Bing changes the search results based on temporal events

on 13 Oct  Posted by Admin  Category: Search Engines  
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A new patent application of Microsoft indicates that Microsoft's search engine Bing might deliver different results based on the intent of the searcher and the time of the year. What is the search engine patent about?

Here's the official abstract of the patent application:

"Techniques and systems are disclosed for returning temporally-aware results from an Internet-based search query. To determine if a query is temporally-based one or more query features are collected and input into a trained classifier, yielding a temporal classification for the query.

Further, if a query is classified as temporal, the query results are shifted by determining an alternate set of results for the query, and returning one or more alternate results to one or more users.

Based on user interactions with the one or more alternate results, the classifier can be updated, for example, by changing the query to a non-temporal query if the user interactions identify it as such."

Different results at different times of the year

A meaning of a search query can shift over time. People searching for "independence day" probably mean the US Independence Day if the search is done around July 4th.

They can also mean the Indian Independence Day if the search is done around August 15th. It is also possible that people are searching for information about a movie if a movie with that name is in theaters at that time.

Based on temporal indicators, Bing wants to return the most probable results for the search.

How does Bing classify queries as temporal?

According to the patent application, Bing takes the following into account:
  • If the frequency of searches for certain queries increases, this can indicate a temporal nature if this happens around certain dates.
  • Increases of mentioned in blogs, microblogging services and increased updates in online encyclopedias can indicate a temporal nature.
  • A sharp increase in a click-through rate, abandonment, or reformulation of a query may indicate that a meaning for the query has shifted temporally.

To find out if a search query is still temporal, Bing might sometimes show alternative results to a number of searchers to see how they interact with the results.

Their responses could determine whether or not the search engine continues to show alternative search results based upon a temporal classification.

Bing might also change the classification from temporal to non-temporal

The way people respond to the alternative search results may result in the classification being changed:
  • Searchers do not choose results that have been added because of the temporal classification.
  • Searchers click on results that have not been added because of the temporal classification.
  • Searchers switch to another search engine after seeing the results.
  • Searchers don't click on the refinement suggestions displayed on the result page due to the temporal classification.

Bing's market share is increasing and it is a good idea to optimize your website for more search engines than just Google. The less dependent your website is from a single source of traffic, the better.

To optimize your website for Bing, use IBP's Top 10 Optimizer. The optimizer will tell you what exactly you have to do to get first page listings on Bing. Of course, it also works with Google and the local variations of Google and Bing (Google UK, Bing UK, Google Australia, etc.).

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