Google’s Paid Link Patent

There are things that we just don’t know about search engines. Things that aren’t shared with us in an official blog post, or search engine representative speaker’s conference comment, or through a publicly published white paper. Often we do learn some aspects of how search engines work through patents, but the timing of those is controlled more by the US Patent and Trademark Office than by one of the search engines.

For example, back in 2003 Google was filing some of their first patents that identified changes to how their ranking algorithms worked, and among those was one with a name similar to the original Stanford PageRank patents filed by Lawrence Page. It has some hints about PageRank and Google’s link analysis that we haven’t officially seen before.

If you want a bit of a history lesson you can see the first couple of those PageRank patents at Method for scoring documents in a linked database (US Patent 6,799,176) and Method for node ranking in a linked database (US Patent 6,285,999).

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Is This Really the Panda Patent?

Does Google’s newly granted patent co-invented by Navneet Panda describe Google’s Panda Update?

Search Quality vs. Web Spam

Many of the patent filings that I’ve written about from Google address Web Spam issues, and how the search engine may take steps or follow approaches to keep its search results from being manipulated. An early example of Google tackling such issues is their patent filed in 2003 titled Methods and systems for identifying manipulated articles.

Is this Google's Panda?

But many of the patents I’ve written about involve ways that Google is trying to improve the quality of search results that searchers see.

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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:

Wired.com: 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.

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Has Advertising Information Been Used by Google in Ranking Pages in Search Results?

In January of 2011, Google’s Matt Cutts published a blog post on the Official Google Blog, titled Google search and search engine spam, which told us:

One misconception that we’ve seen in the last few weeks is the idea that Google doesn’t take as strong action on spammy content in our index if those sites are serving Google ads. To be crystal clear:

  • Google absolutely takes action on sites that violate our quality guidelines regardless of whether they have ads powered by Google;
  • Displaying Google ads does not help a site’s rankings in Google; and
  • Buying Google ads does not increase a site’s rankings in Google’s search results.

These principles have always applied, but it’s important to affirm they still hold true.

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The Incomplete Google Ranking Signals, Part 1

I’ve been seeing a few long posts lately that list ranking signals from Google, and they inspired me to start writing a series about ranking signals over on Google+. Chances are good that I will continue to work on the series there, especially since I’ve been getting some great feedback on them.

This post includes the first seven, plus an eight signal – the Co-Occurrence Matrix described in Google’s Phrase-Based Indexing patents.

I’m also trying to include links to some of the papers and patents that I think are among some of the most important to people interested in SEO that support the signals that I’ve included.

Here are the first 8 signals:

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Google’s Mobile Ordering Ahead Patent

Will Google be transforming the way that we order from restaurants and other merchants such as pharmacists? A patent application published by Google this past week points to the possibility.

Google has been experimenting with showing menus from restaurants in its search results recently, and added them as reported in Search Engine Land on Friday – Now Official: Google Adds Restaurant Menus To Search Results.

The article seems more filled with questions than answers, such as where Google is getting the menu information, and even why they are publishing menu information. I suspect that a lot of restaurants will be be begging Google for ways to submit their latest menus in the near future.

Knowing what the menu might look like at a restaurant might make the difference between whether you will dine there, or drive past. For example, if I didn’t know better based on word of mouth, I wouldn’t begin to suspect that the Inn at Little Washington, in the middle of nowhere rural Virginia, might be one of the best restaurants in the United States. Here’s part of their menu:

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Evolving Google Search Algorithms

When I’m looking for something at a search engine, I will often start out with a particular query and then depending upon the kinds of results I see I often change the query terms I use. It appears that Google has been paying attention to this kind of search behavior from people who search like me. A patent granted to Google earlier this month watches queries performed by a searcher during a search session, and may give more weight to the words and phrases used earlier in a session like that, and might give less weight to terms that might be added on as a session continues.

This patent seems like part of an evolution of algorithms from Google that has brought us to their Hummingbird update.

An old print from the 1880s showing a cat evolving into a catcher.

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Google’s Patent on Site Speed as a Ranking Signal

On April 9th, 2009, many people developed an interest in speeding up their websites, after reading a post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog – Using site speed in web search ranking.

Early race car driver Bob Berman, who raced in the first Indy 500 in 1911.

On the same day, Google’s Matt Cutts published Google incorporating site speed in search rankings on his blog. These posts introduced site
speed as a ranking signal that Google would be using.

Matt Cutts told us that it wouldn’t be an earth shattering signal. And that it might not have an impact within a large set of rankings. But he did stress that speed has benefits other than just ranking, including improved user experience.

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Getting Information about Search, SEO, and the Semantic Web Directly from the Search Engines