Google's Search Algorithm Is Not Dictated By Their Patents

Dec 4, 2013 • 8:36 am | comments (19) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google PatentEvery now and then I see a thread in the discussion forums come up talking about a patent being awarded to Google. The most recent is a thread at Black Hat World where the SEO tells webmasters to keep their heads up in preparation for something big.

The thread cites a post from SEO By The Sea that talks about how Google was awarded a patent for Systems and methods for detecting hidden text and hidden links.

Heads up on that?

Even without a patent, you don't think Google had something in place for detecting hidden text and links? It is in their Google guidelines and there have been penalties for these things for years.

Google's Matt Cutts told us before that patents do not specifically dictate what is in the algorithm. They may have patents written well after the concept is in the algorithm. They may have patents written and awarded that are never used in the algorithm. Patents have no direct influence on the algorithms.

Of course, patents are fun and interesting to read.

Here is a video from Matt Cutts on the misconception of patents:

Forum discussion at Black Hat World.

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12/04/2013 03:15 pm

Well, it got G+137 and 308 Tweets. People like it ) SEOs will sell their BS. Google will promote what people buy. Everyone will be happy ... full of ignorance, but who cares in after Panda world, when quality is replaced by popularity. By the way, your post Barry got just 6 G+ Be careful writing quality posts )

Barry Schwartz

12/04/2013 03:18 pm

What is your problem?


12/04/2013 03:23 pm

No probs, except you did quality post ... ) I thought, that probably I should include tag ... ))

Barry Schwartz

12/04/2013 03:24 pm

I am sick and under the weather, bit stressed also. I need a vacation.


12/04/2013 03:29 pm

I can understand you ... When you must do 5 posts each and every day, no matter what, then it can be stressful. I told many times, that sometimes we (IT pros) are pure heroes ) Will not feed you with the useless suggestions. You know everything by yourself.

Barry Schwartz

12/04/2013 03:31 pm

Oh, the blog doesn’t stress me at all. I enjoy this part. :)


12/04/2013 03:34 pm

Then take vacation, go to Hawaii and blog on the beach )


12/04/2013 05:14 pm

Google's awarding countless patents and Matt Cutts' keeps calling other companies patent trolls on Twitter. I love that irony.

Barry Schwartz

12/04/2013 05:18 pm

Patent trolls sue others for breaking patents they hold but don’t do anything with. I do not know if Google ever sued anyone for patent infringement, no idea. But I assume Google gets patents to protect them against patent infringement lawsuits.


12/04/2013 05:38 pm

Patent trolls tend to be firms that buy up patents that they do not use themselves and then attempt to sue anyone who is actually using the patented information. This American Life did a few episodes dealing with patent trolls, and they were excellent. Take a listen; Google submitting lots of their own patents are different from patent trolls. The episodes stream for free on their site (I believe they are on their 'short lists' episode guide). They are great. Enjoy.


12/04/2013 08:32 pm

Hi Barry, That patent was granted earlier this year (in March), and was originally filed in 2009. But it's a continuation patent based upon a patent application that was originally filed in 2003 (but wasn't granted). As a continuation patent, it takes the filing date of the earlier patent, but the claims section differs from the earlier one, and may provide more specific claims or claims that have been altered in other ways. The claims in the original patent application were rejected by the patent office, and rather than appeal that decision, it looks like Google filed this continuation patent instead. I wrote about the granting of the new patent because it is fascinating to see how Google writes about issues like Web Spam, and provides some insight into how they address such problems. So the basic processes for detecting hidden links and text have been around for years, since at least sometime in 2002 if not before then, but likely written slightly differently. When Matt created his video about patents, it was more of a warning rather than an admonishment, that just because Google patented something doesn't mean that they are using the process described within it "at this time." Definitely the last thing anyone should be doing after reading a patent is panicking about something potentially harmful being on the horizon.

Durant Imboden

12/04/2013 08:44 pm

Common sense, when you consider that Google's algorithm is a "secret sauce" that can't be copied easily.


12/05/2013 01:45 am

google algorithm is only dictated by greed of owners.

Mukesh kumar

12/05/2013 09:36 am

Barry you are doing a good job, I read your blog posts every alternative day. Many time you face criticism, but not to worry keep posting and keep us updated. Wish you a good luck.


12/05/2013 11:11 am

You wrote : "As I noted above, one of the things that I really appreciate about this patent is that it provides another place to point people to when discussing things like hidden text and links other than just Google’s help pages on the topic." " .......... when discussing things like hidden text and links .............. " But there is nothing to discuss, since destructive nature of such practices was confirmed many many many years ago. If you still want to discuss an obvious things, then no doubt your service is about discussions, not about results.


12/05/2013 02:53 pm

Troll much? :)


12/05/2013 03:30 pm

Sorry Bill, that your poor attempt to attract attention failed, but I suggest you to search problem in yourself )


12/05/2013 04:41 pm

Hi JustConsumer My comment wasn't an attempt to attract attention to myself. Barry's post above already does that by linking to my site. The patent from Google describes how people might attempt to spam websites, and provides some insight into how Google tries to address such problems. in their own words. My comment explained why the methods within the patent appear to be so old by explaining that the patent discussed above is a continuation patent, and that the original patent application was abandoned. Discussion with clients is important as part of the delivery of results, and being able to describe why Google might behave the way that they are is something that clients want to understand, especially in instances where a process that Google might implement may potentially cause harm to someone that didn't have an intent to spam. Many things tend to look obvious in hindsight, such as Google's efforts to curb web spam, but there's value in seeing what they might have said in the past in more detail on how they might pursue those efforts.


12/07/2013 04:19 am

Are patents awarded? I don't think anybody awards patent to anyone. Rather people write patent about their invention or an idea they have about what they intend to implement and submit to the patent office. The patent is a way to protect their intellectual property, from anyone who might want to "steal" the idea

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