Where Query Images That Accompany Query Answers Are Selected From?

by Posted @ Jun 24 2020

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Query Images may be selected from the same source that a query answer may be extracted from under a new patent from Google.

When Google shows an answer to a query that is intended to be an actual answer instead of a set of links to pages that might contain an answer, Google may also show a query image with the answer. Where does Google select those query images from? That is a question that we have seen answered before – sometimes from pages that are different than the page with an answer might come from. A new patent granted to Google may change that if a suitable query image is available from the page that an answer is selected from.

I had written a post around six years ago on a similar patent called Where Rich Content Images Come From. When this newer patent was granted yesterday, and it had a similar name, but was from different inventors, I decided that it would be worth looking to see if anything had changed.

This one starts by telling us that it targets queries that are asking a specific question, like the earlier patent:

Users of search systems are often searching for an answer to a specific question, rather than a listing of resources. For example, users may want to know what the weather is in a particular location, a current quote for a stock, the capital of a state, etc. When queries that are in the form of a question are received, some search systems may perform specialized search operations in response to the question format of the query. For example, some search systems may provide information responsive to such queries in the form of an “answer,” such as information provided in the form of a “one box” to a question.

The summary of the patent is very similar to the earlier patent as well. A query from a searcher that asks a question results in a query which includes an image and text:

In general, one innovative aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of receiving, by the data processing apparatus, a first query that is determined to be a question query for which a corresponding answer is to be provided in response to the first query; generating, by the data processing apparatus and from the first query, a second query; causing, by the data processing apparatus, a search of a plurality of resources of a first corpus of resources to be done using the second query as input, wherein the first corpus of resources are resources that include images and textual data rendered with the images; receiving data indicating a set of resources determined to be responsive to the second query and ranked according to a first order indicative of the responsiveness to the query; causing a search for images in the set of resources; selecting, from the set of images and based in part on the search for images in the first set of resources, an image to be provided with the answer in response to the query; and providing, by the data processing apparatus, and with the answer, the image in response to the first query.

Where does this version of this patent differ from the one that I wrote about in 2014?

In the 2014 patent, Rich content for query answers, we are told:

Particular embodiments of the subject matter described in this specification can be implemented to realize one or more of the following advantages. Rich content, such as an image, audio, or a video, can be provided with an answer to a question, and the rich content is selected such that it conveys to the user information regarding both the content of the question and the answer. This helps ensure that rich information provided to the user for an answer is responsive to the question and consistent with the answer provided.

In this patent granted in 2020, Images for query answers, we have an “in some implementations” section added to the “advantages” section of the summary:

Images are provided with an answer to a question, and the image is selected such that it conveys to the user information regarding both the content of the question and the answer. This helps ensure that images provided to the user for an answer are responsive to the question and consistent with the answer provided.

In some implementations in which an image is to be provided from the same resource from which an answer is extracted (referred to as a “source resource”), the system scores images in response to a query before receiving data indicating the resource from which the answer is extracted. Thus, when the source resource is identified, the images of the source resource may be selected more quickly than waiting for the source resource to be identified before scoring the images. This reduces the overall latency of image selection for the answer, thereby improving the process of providing an image with an answer to a question query.

This newer patent on query images can be found at:

Images for query answers
Inventors: Eric Steinlauf, Grant Dasher, Matthew K. Gray, Steven D. Baker, Namrata U. Godbole, Samer Hassan Hassan, Ionut Georgescu
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,691,746
Granted: June 23, 2020
Filed: July 12, 2016

Abstract

Methods and systems for providing an image with an answer to a question query. A method receiving a first query that is determined to be a question query; generating a second query form the first query; causing a search of a plurality of resources of a first corpus using the second query as input, wherein the first corpus of resources are resources that include images and textual data rendered with the images; receiving data indicating a set of resources determined to be responsive to the second query; causing a search for images in the set of resources; selecting, from the set of images and based in part on the search for images in the first set of resources, an image to be provided with the answer in response to the query; and providing, by the data processing apparatus, and with the answer, the image in response to the first query.

The patent does provide some more details about whether an image from the same source as the answer is selected to be displayed with that answer, and how query images might be selected.

We are told that a top-ranked image may be used as the image that is shown with an answer.

But before that image is selected, another option might be to see if the page where the answer was extracted is among the top “N” resources and includes “one or more images in the set of images, then the image in the source resource having the highest rank in the set of images is selected.”

Or additional selection processing of images may be done, such as further ranking the images included in the source resource according to selection criteria.

That selection criteria may include, “whether:

    The image is in a prominent position on the page
  • The image is identified as a low-information image (e.g., “clipart,” or anchor buttons, icons, etc.,)
  • Using that kind of criteria, the top-ranked query image may then be selected to be displayed with the answer text.

    If the source of and answer does not include images, it is possible that:

    • No image may be provided with the answer
    • An image may be expanded to images in the set of images that were determined to be responsive to the question query.

    Actions You Can Take to Get Query Images Showing with your Answers

    This patent is an update on how images were chosen to be displayed with answers to questions in response to queries. It makes it more likely that an image from the same source as to where the answer from the query was extracted may be where a query image is selected from. We aren’t given much information about how an image might be ranked from that answer source, but we do now know that it may be more likely used if it is from a prominent position on the page that the answer was extracted from.

    If you set out to answer a question that might be shown as a featured snippet and want to include an image with your answer, make sure that image is prominently placed on the same page as your answer, and you will increase your chances that your query images will appear with your answers.

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