A few weeks ago Google quietly published Patent US 8,682,892 titled “Ranking Search Results” by it’s inventors Navneet Panda and Vladimir Ofitserov.
The interesting part of this (very wordy) patent is the section describing ‘implied links’ as a ranking factor: In other words, mentions (or citations) of a brand (in addition to regular links) being considered when ranking a website in search.
Here’s the key paragraph:
The system determines a count of independent links for the group (step 302). A link for a group of resources is an incoming link to a resource in the group, i.e., a link having a resource in the group as its target. Links for the group can include express links, implied links, or both. An express link, e.g., a hyperlink, is a link that is included in a source resource that a user can follow to navigate to a target resource. An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource. Thus, a resource in the group can be the target of an implied link without a user being able to navigate to the resource by following the implied link.
Many of us in the industry have suspected this has been happening for some time: I’ve certainly seen data to suggest this is the case. What’s important here is further evidence that Google is becoming much more sophisticated and is working on ranking factors that truly reward websites that build a solid brand over looking for SEO loopholes.
Website owners that work hard to increase their visibility online should already be thinking about how to create an authoritative brand via multiple channels that people actually want to talk about: Just like we do in traditional marketing, PR Anybody?