Google's Matt Cutts SERP quality scoring patent? What it means

Google’s Matt Cutts SERP Quality Scoring Patent: What It Means
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor

Google blogger extraordinaire Matt Cutts is also an inventor; Cutts, Matt, et al have filed, on behalf of assignee Google, Inc., for a U.S. patent on “Document Scoring Based on Document Inception Date”:

A system may determine a document inception date associated with a document, generate a score for the document based, at least in part, on the document inception date, and rank the document with regard to at least one other document based, at least in part, on the score.

Not surprisingly, the title and description do not reflect greater Googley motivations behind the “need to improve the quality of results generated by search engines,” as per the Cutts filing.

Is a new quality scoring in store for Google SERPs. How? What about PageRank? Will users be affected?

The filing concludes with “Systems and methods consistent with the principles of the invention may use history data to score documents and form high quality search results.”

“History data” may be the hook, but the Googleplex has much more in store than a mere ranking of Web pages by chronological date of publication. Google aims to assess real world historical usage patterns of Web pages by real people to make real world style quality scoring and ranking assessments.

Web page “history data” evaluated may include:

Content updates/changes
Query analysis
User behavior
Domain-related information
User maintained/generated data

It is undoubetedly not a coincidence that Google’s patent discussion of Web page “history data” sounds eerily similar to Google’s new “Web History” user tracking tool.

What Google has in store, for users of the World Wide Web.


Search engine may monitor data maintained or generated by a user, such as "bookmarks," "favorites," or other types of data that may provide some indication of documents favored by, or of interest to, the user. Search engine may obtain this data either directly (e.g., via a browser assistant) or indirectly (e.g., via a browser). Search engine may then analyze over time a number of bookmarks/favorites to which a document is associated to determine the importance of the document.
Search engine may also analyze upward and downward trends to add or remove the document (a path to the document) from the bookmarks/favorites lists, the rate at which the document is added to or removed from the bookmarks/favorites lists, and/or whether the document is added to, deleted from, or accessed through the bookmarks/favorites lists.

If a number of users are adding a particular document to their bookmarks/favorites lists or often accessing the document through such lists over time, this may be considered an indication that the document is relatively important. On the other hand, if a number of users are decreasingly accessing a document indicated in their bookmarks/favorites list or are increasingly deleting/replacing the path to such document from their lists, this may be taken as an indication that the document is outdated, unpopular, etc.
Other types of user data that may indicate an increase or decrease in user interest in a particular document over time. The "temp" or cache files associated with users could be monitored by search engine to identify whether there is an increase or decrease in a document being added over time. Similarly, cookies associated with a particular document might be monitored by search engine to determine whether there is an upward or downward trend in interest in the document.

Information corresponding to individual or aggregate user behavior relating to a document over time may be used to generate (or alter) a score associated with the document. Search engine  may monitor the number of times that a document is selected from a set of search results and/or the amount of time one or more users spend accessing the document.

Implications: Google does right by users? Not when it counts.

Watch out for personal behavioral tracking, big time.

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