Matt Cutts Tells SEOs to Stop Worrying About Google Search Patents

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If you're an avid SEO professional, you likely pay close attention to any new Google patents that are attached to the Search or Search Quality teams. It often gives insight about where the future of search could be headed, along with plenty of speculation about just how the patent could be applied and how it would affect webmasters.

Well, Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts brings up the topic of the many Google patents in his latest Google Webmaster Help video, which was an answer to the question about the latest SEO misconception he would like to put to rest.

“Just because a patent issues that has somebody’s name on it or someone who works at search quality or someone who works at Google, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are using that patent at that moment,” Cutts said in the video. “So sometimes you will see speculation Google had a patent where they mentioned using the length of time that a domain was registered. That doesn’t mean that we are necessarily doing that, it just means that mechanism is patented.”

Bill Slawski of SEO By the Sea said Google may not presently be doing what is described in many patents, but that doesn't mean that they might not have been in the past, or may not in the future.

"It's not a great practice to take anything within a patent as gospel that Google is doing what's described within the patent, but it's also not a great practice to automatically tune patents out," Slawski said. "They are a chance to learn about the assumptions that search engines make about search, searchers, search engines, and the web."

In the video, Cutts continues to describe another patent where Google looked at websites that were being updated after they did an update, which of course concerned webmasters that this could flag them, as they reacted to each update.

“Patents are a lot of interesting ideas, so you can see a lot of stuff mentioned in them, but don’t take it as an automatic golden truth that we are doing any particular thing mentioned in a patent,” he said.

Slawski noted that sometimes it can be almost impossible to tell if a process described in a patent filing was or is implemented, especially if the process described in the patent is one that might impact rankings or results but doesn't leave much of a visible footprint that it was involved in those results.

“Matt is right – don't take the existence of a patent as present day proof that Google is actively doing what is described within the patent," Slawski said. "But don't ignore what you can learn from the patent, especially if it raises a lot of questions that you can explore and experiment with, and use to help understand the search engine better."

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.