The order that pages appear in the results of a search at a search engine may be influenced by the number of pages that link to that page, and by rankings of the pages that link to that page.
When a site is linked to by a popular and trusted domain, that link might provide more value (and a higher ranking) than a link from a site that is less popular and trusted.
Ages of Linking Domains
A new patent application from Microsoft adds another twist, by also ranking domains based upon the ages of domains which link to those domains.
The cost of purchasing a domain has decreased significantly in recent years, and some domain registrars have offered free domain registrations for up to thirty to sixty day trial periods.
A spammer might take advantage of an offer like that to build something known as a link farm, which is a spam technique in which spammers “purchase or otherwise obtain a large number of sites and interlink the sites together to increase the sites’ rankings by artificially increasing the number of contributing domains for some or all of the sites.”
The Microsoft patent application is:
Ranking Domains Using Domain Maturity
Invented by Janine Crumb, Krishna C Gade, Rangan Majumder, Vishnu Challam
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20080086467
Published April 10, 2008
Filed October 10, 2006
Ranking domains for search engines is provided herein. To rank a domain, contributing domains associated with the domain are identified. Additionally, the maturity of each of the contributing domains is determined.
A rank for the domain is then determined based at least in part on the maturity of each of the contributing domains. The domain rankings may then be used to order results for search queries.
This patent application assumes that newer domains have a “higher likelihood of being spam and/or being a part of a web farm that attempts to artificially inflate domain rankings for domains in the web farm.”
By looking at the age of domains that link to those newer domains when determining a rank for a domain, domains which have links from older domains “may be ranked higher than spam domains and/or less relevant domains.”
Maturity and Immaturity of Contributing Domains
A search engine may access domain information by communicating with the web servers that those are hosted upon, to access and/or update domain information, such as domain registration date, domain expiration date, domain swapping date(s), and a set of linked domains.
The maturity of a contributing domain may be based upon when that domain was registered or was first discovered by a search engine (if the domain information doesn’t provide a registration date).
Maturity may mean labeling a domain as mature immature. For example, contributing domains registered more than a year ago could be considered mature domains.
Ranking based upon the age of contributing domain could involve looking at:
1) Mature Domains only — A domain’s rank might be calculated based in part on only mature contributing domains that are associated with the domain.
2) Mature and Immature Domains — rankings might be influenced by both mature and immature domains, but the value of the rank for the immature domains might be based upon the ranks of the mature domains linking to those immature domains.
While some new domains can be spam, not all are. New domains that are popular, provide value, and gain links from older domains could be allowed to pass along the rankings from the mature domains associated with those new domains.
3) Instead of distinquishing between domains linking to a domain as either a mature or immature, the age of contributing (linking) domain might be used to provide a percentage of ranking to a domain:
For example, in an embodiment, domains that have been registered for more than ten years may contribute 100% of their accumulated ranks to a target domain’s rank;
domains that have been registered from six to ten years may contribute 75% of their accumulated ranks to a target domain’s rank;
domains that have been registered from three to six years may contribute 50% of their accumulated ranks to a target domain’s rank;
domains that have been registered for one to three years may contribute 25% of their accumulated ranks to a target domain’s rank; and
domains that have been registered for less than one year may only contribute 10% of their accumulated ranks.
Resetting Maturity for Expired or Swapped Domains
The maturity of a domain might be reset if the domain expires or if the domain is swapped.
It’s possible for spammers to buy a block of domains that have expired as well as new domains to form a Web Farm. By a search engine resetting the maturity of a domain, spammers don’t benefit from the purchase or swapping of an older domain.
The effect of a process like this might make it look like new domains are being penalized by search engines because they are new (what someone might perhaps call something like a “sandbox” effect).
If a process like this were in place, it might cause new domains that aren’t linked to by older domains to not rank highly, at least until they get some links from older domains.