Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bill Slawski's series of articles on SEO-related patents

Bill Slawski, the Search Engine Optimization expert who does business at SEO By The Sea, has recently been publishing a fascinating series of articles entitled The 10 Most Important SEO Patents.

As you'll discover as you start to read the articles, the series title isn't perfectly accurate, since these aren't necessarily all "SEO patents", but it's no matter, for the articles themselves are extremely interesting.

He's written 6 articles so far:

  • Part 1 - The Original PageRank Patent Application
    This provisional patent may not have the weight or legal value of the continuation patents that followed it, but it captures the excitement and personality of its inventor, Larry Page, in a manner that those patents missed. It also provides head-to-head examples of search results from both Google and AltaVista for specific queries to illustrate how the link analysis involved in what Page was doing with PageRank made a difference.
  • Part 2 - The Original Historical Data Patent Filing and its Children
    The impact of this patent goes on today, likely responsible for the recent Google freshness update, the possible impact on the rankings of a site as content upon pages change and anchor text pointing to that page no longer matches up well, whether Google might consider some pages as doorway pages when they are purchased and links are added to pages and topics of those pages change, and more.
  • Part 3 - Classifying Web Blocks with Linguistic Features
    The patent does provide us with an idea of how a search engine might understand the different blocks that if finds on a page, and use those when it indexes, analyzes and classifies content on that page. For example, a section of a page that contains every short phrases, with each word capitalized, and each phrase a link to another page on a site, that appears near the top of the page or in sidebar to the left of the page might be the main navigation for that page.
  • Part 4 - PageRank Meets the Reasonable Surfer
    the algorithm behind the Reasonable Surfer model might determine that even though the link is prominently placed and stands out from the rest of the text in an important part of a page, the text of the link has nothing to do with the content of the rest of the page, and that text evidences a very commercial intent.
  • Part 5 - Phrase Based Indexing
    This phrase-based indexing system provided a way to defeat Googlebombing, and to determine how much anchor text relevance should be passed along with links.
  • Part 6 - Named Entity Detection in Queries
    Google, Bing, and Yahoo all look for named entities on web pages and in search queries, and will use their recognition of named entities to do things like answer questions such as “where was Barack Obama born?”

These are really wonderful articles, full of detail, clearly-written, packed with examples, and loaded with link after link to chase and study.

If you are interested in how the world's top search engines work "under the covers", you won't want to miss this series. Thanks Bill for writing such a great set of posts!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your kind words, Bryan.

    I had a few people asking me what the most important "SEO" patents were for at least a couple of years, and the first five were pretty easy to choose, and the next five not as easy.

    I finally broke down, and took this as a challenge, and I'm glad I did. I find one of the best ways for me to learn is to teach others what I'm learning. Focusing upon these patents is teaching me new things about them.

    Happy to hear that you're enjoying the series so far.