Google’s Panda Granted a Patent on Ranking Search Results

One of the most impactful updates at Google was the Panda Update, released into the world in February of 2011, and affecting almost “12%” of all search results. In a Wired interview of Google’s Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts, TED 2011: The ‘Panda’ That Hates Farms: A Q&A With Google’s Top Search Engineers, the name of the update was revealed to be taken from a Google Engineer that played a significant role in its development: What’s the code name of this update? Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land has been calling it “Farmer” because its apparent target is content farms.

Amit Singhal: Well, we named it internally after an engineer, and his name is Panda. So internally we called a big Panda. He was one of the key guys. He basically came up with the breakthrough a few months back that made it possible.

There were at least a couple of search engineers at Google with the last name of Panda, and a review of what either had written led to some interesting information, but not much about the Panda Update itself. At some point in time, Google’s Navneet Panda included the following statement on his Google Plus About Page:

Navneet Panda includes the Panda Update in his "bragging rights."

Navneet Panda includes the Panda Update in his “bragging rights.”*

I’ve been keeping an eye out for any patents from Google that have his name on them, and one was granted today.

Ranking search results
Invented by Navneet Panda and Vladimir Ofitserov
Assigned to Google
US Patent 8,682,892
Granted March 25, 2014
Filed: September 28, 2012


Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage media, for ranking search results. One of the methods includes:

  • Determining, for each of a plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of independent incoming links to resources in the group;
  • Determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries;
  • Determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group; and
  • Associating, with each of the plurality of groups of resources, the respective group-specific modification factor for the group, wherein the respective group-specific modification for the group modifies initial scores generated for resources in the group in response to received search queries.

It’s going to take a while to drill down into the process described in this patent, and make sense of how it might work, but I’ll tackling that. A quick run through the claims and the description section of the patent reveals some interesting details. While this is the first published or granted patent we’ve seen from Navneet Panda, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have others that are presently being prosecuted by the patent office, either.

The patent appears to describe some ranking of pages based upon classifying them by looking at the links pointing to them, the queries that refer to the pages, and how well the pages fit as navigational queries for those queries.

*It appears that Navneet Panda removed his “bragging rights” section on his Google Plus profile after this post was published, which made the claim that he was the “Father. Author of the Google Panda Update.”


Author: Bill Slawski

Share This Post On