Google, Favored Sites, and Editorial Opinion

There’s a lot of blog coverage of a new patent from Google, System and method for supporting editorial opinion in the ranking of search results, which was originally filed with the US Patent Office in December of 2000. I’m seeing a lot of questions related to the patent…

  • Is a reranking of sites going on in Google search results based upon a favored or non-favored status?
  • Do search engineers at Google manually decide that some sites are more appropriate for certain queries than others?
  • Is inclusion in the Yahoo! Directory or the DMOZ a way to become a favored site?
  • Does this patent describe Google Co-op?
  • Who are the “editors” that this patent talks about when stating that editors may determine query themes and a favored or non-favored status for a site?
  • Is Google using the process described in this patent?

Steve Bryant surmises over at Google Watch that the New Google Patent Hints at Direction of Social Search. Rand Fiskin notes that the patent may be an indication that Google is looking at the “quality of pages,” and points out that a mention is made of ranking “sites” instead of “pages” in Favored vs. Non-Favored Sources. I tried to break down the language of the patent into some easier to digest pieces at SEO by the Sea, in Google looks at Query Themes and Reranking Based upon Editorial Opinion

A good number of white papers and patent applications published since the filing of this patent have looked at user queries and user behavior in fairly complex ways, such as chaining user queries together in sessions to identify user intent, and exploring how a searcher interacts with search results. It’s imaginable that if Google has adopted something like what is described in this patent, that decisions regarding query themes and favored status are based on much more than a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.

Related reading

Gillette video search trends
serps of tomorrow
2018 SERP changes impact SEO