The USPTO published yesterday a patent awarded to Google that provides clues to Google's plans for social search, including details about how Google will use human editors to help facilitate algorithmic search.

The patent, system and method for supporting editorial opinion in the ranking of search results, describes processes whereby Google can better judge user search intent based upon whether the query matches a "theme" of queries on Google's servers.

Those "themes" include topics commonly occurring in search queries from users in Google's network. According to the patent, editors will develop these query themes by looking at search query logs and developing categories of information.

The editors develop query themes by surveying user search logs, experimenting with test search queries, and examining search results lists.

The patent also includes details about distinguishing between "favored" and "non-favored" sources. Such sources would be determined by a variety of factors, including host name.

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