Could TV listings soon be a Google ranking factor?


Television schedules could soon be a ranking factor for Google searches, after a patent that links internet devices to television listings was granted this week.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) No comments
Share on Google+ Share on LinkedIn


The patent says that Google could potentially link search result content based on television programmes being broadcast in a given location, working on the basis that search intent can be influenced by what is broadcast on television.

The wording of the patent describes it as:

“A computer implemented method for using search queries related to television programs. A server receives a user’s search query from an electronic device.

“The server then determines, in accordance with the search query and television program related information for television programs available at a location associated with the electronic device during a specific time window, a television program currently being displayed in proximity to the electronic device, wherein the television program related information includes program descriptions for a plurality of television programs being broadcast for the associated location.”

Further into the document, the patent describes the rationale behind it:

“Occasionally, such a TV viewer executes search queries on the Internet-connected device related to the TV content he or she is watching. For example, when the user is watching a TV program about wildlife, he or she might execute searches on the Internet-connected device related to the particular animal species being described in that program.”

Google would, according to the document, implement a ‘correlation score’ system to determine how likely a television broadcast is influencing search activity. If the correlation score does not reach a certain threshold, the search results would be unaffected.

How could this work in practice?


In essence, Google could use television schedules in a given location as a potential ranking factor, which could affect the types of results given before or during a show’s broadcast.

For example, if somebody was to search for “cake recipes” just during an episode of The Great British Bake-off, Google could potentially perceive that the intent of that search is related to the show and alter the results to suit.

Likewise, a search for “Manchester City” made after kick-off in a televised match could give more prominence to results offering live scores or in-play betting, rather than match previews or press conference quotes.

Another example could see search results for “Mercedes” or “luxury cars”, made during an episode of Top Gear, reflect a particular model being shown in that programme.

The importance of second-screen interaction.


The patent represents a clear statement of intent by Google to reflect modern viewing habits in its search results. Second screen interaction, by which viewers follow a television programme on social media whilst it is taking place, represents a huge opportunity for Google.

Whilst this development is very much in its infancy, it represents another big opportunity for brands – particularly if such a development is able to pick up on programme sponsorship or product placement. It certainly favours those larger brands with deep advertising pockets.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× Megaphone

Fancy more of this?