Sure, the blogosphere has been mostly ignoring it, but Google’s patent filing on Thursday will result in some serious changes in the ways webmasters approach site-building. Since Google is so important to websites getting traffic, all books offering advice on how to build a successful site must bear in mind the rules Google is using to determine site popularity.
The patent also answers some questions. Why did Google become a domain registrar? To have access to site historical data, which it will now use in its rankings. Why did Google purchase Urchin? To use that data for site rankings. Does the Google toolbar help determine rankings? You’re damn right it does.
Here’s one interesting fact: PageRank isn’t about the number of links, its about link growth. Sheer volume of links is meaningless, because Google tracks historical link volume data, determining rises and falls in the number of links. If your site earns a steady number of links every month, it may never move up in the rankings, because it is not gaining in popularity. Link building campaigns are one step removed from meaningless, because they can never gain momentum. In a sense, web spam won’t help rankings as much as might be thought, because you cannot infinitely increase the rate of spammage, and the moment it drops off, your site is dead.
Worse, how often you update affects everything. If you update every day, and then start updating once a week, your site is dropping, no two ways about it. In addition, Google keeps a close eye on sites that shoot up quickly, and checks if its spam related or a Slashdotting-type event.
Here’s another: How long you register your domain name for affects your rankings. There’s a boost for sites registered for longer. How many websites will we see buying 100-year registrations now?
Google also knows who owns more than one site, because of its registrar data. Linking from one of your own sites to another is useless, because Google knows.
There’s so much more to this, we’ve only scratched the surface. There’s a lot of discussion in this Webmasterworld thread, and Randfish has an excellent summary of the entire patent here (thanks, Donna).