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New Google patent: how to judge the value of a link

Google has been granted a new patent with the name "Determining quality of linked documents" some days ago. The patent might give us further insight on how Google judges the influence of a link on the search engine positions of a web page.

What is the patent about?

Here's the official abstract:

"A ranking component ranks documents, such as web pages or web sites, to obtain a ranking score that defines a quality judgment of the document. The ranking score of a particular document is based on the ranking score of the documents which link to it and based on affiliation among the documents."

According to the patent description, Google could rank the backlinks to a web page differently based on the relation of the pages to each other.

For example, links from pages that have the same author might have less influence on the rankings of a web page that have no affiliation with the linked site.

The patent also contains an image that illustrated how the related of web pages might be:

Google patent

How does Google limit the value of a link?

According to the patent, Google might do the following:

  • Google assigns a maximum value to links that come from affiliated pages.
  • Google might assign individual values to links from independent pages.

That means that three links from an affiliated website carry more value than a single link but the total value of all links from the affiliated website is limited.

How can Google recognize affiliated web pages?

The patent shows a number of methods that Google can use to determine the affiliation of web pages:

  • Interlinking: websites that are more closely interlinked to each other than the average pages on the websites might be considered to be affiliated.

  • Hostnames: web pages that have the same domain name or subdomains that are on the same domain are probably affiliated.

  • IP addresses: if the first two or three components of the IP addresses are identical, the web pages might be affiliated.

  • Visitors: web pages that share many visitors during the same browsing session can be considered to be affiliated.

What does this mean for your website rankings?

Although Google has been granted the patent this month, they filed it a few years ago. That means that the methods described in the patent probably have been in use at Google for several years.

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