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Google Patent Points to Marriage Between Search and E-mail

This marks a major strategic shift for Google, which appears to be looking to extend its power across other online channels like e-mail and instant messaging.

Google may be arranging a marriage between search and e-mail.

A Google patent application published on Thursday describes, "[a] universal distributed search system allows users to find and distribute search results (possibly including advertisements) to those with whom they communicate."

Google describes this union of search and communication as "user distributed search" or UDS.

Google's rationale for integrating search queries with e-mail communication is that copying and pasting links in messages doesn't work well. As the patent application puts it," This process for annotating user created content can be tedious, difficult to perform for average users, and often results in textual links in the final content that can be difficult to read."

The patent application shows Google thinking of search in a broader context than it has in the past. Previously, the company has treated search as a way to find content. This patent application describes search queries themselves as content.

Content creators, the patent application explains, "may easily incorporate search results and/or advertisements into their content creation workflow. Incorporation of search results and/or advertisements in the manner described herein will be referred to as user distributed search (UDS)."

This marks a major strategic shift for Google: Having come to dominate Web search, Google appears to be looking to extend that power across other online channels like e-mail and instant messaging.

"In an increasingly networked world, users frequently use online sources to create and exchange information," the patent application explains. "E-mail, instant messaging (IM), message boards, Web sites, and blogs are all existing communication technologies through which users can create and distribute content to other users. Frequently, in creating such content, a user may wish to reference other online information sources. For example, a user authoring an e-mail may use a browser to navigate to a Web page that the user would like to reference in the e-mail, copy the link (e.g., the uniform resource locator (URL)) from the browser to a 'clipboard,' and then paste the link from the clipboard into the email. In this manner, the user can create an e-mail message that contains links that are accessible by an eventual reader of the e-mail."

Google isn't merely describing a way to make copying and pasting search queries into e-mail more user friendly; it's looking to link search and communication. Toward that end, it describes automated search technology that sounds a lot like the implicit query system that enterprise search vendor Autonomy uses to automatically generate search results.

"Instead of waiting for a user to provide a search query, the UDS may automatically generate search queries based on, for example, entity recognition techniques performed using the content entered by the user or content otherwise associated with content creation application ...," the patent application says. "Entity recognition techniques are generally known in the art, and may include, for example, techniques designed to recognize entities such as products, places, organizations, or any other entities that tend to be subjects of searches. The entity recognition techniques can be based on linguistic grammar models or statistical models. In one possible implementation, the entity recognition techniques may be particularly adopted to locate terms that correspond to commercial products or terms that define an address, such as a postal address."

Google foresees UDS enhancing users' reputations on social or reputation networks. "In the context of UDS, if a particular user incorporates a large number of search results into content and the search results are frequently selected by readers of the content, this may be an indication that the user is an 'expert' in the topic relating to the content, and his reputation score for the topic may be increased," the patent application explains.

And of course Google expects that UDS will enhance revenue. "Advertisements presented through UDS may, in particular, represent advertisements that have a higher likelihood of click through and may therefore be more valuable to the advertiser," the patent application explains.

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