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dead-linksOne of the best ways to drive traffic to your site is by link-building. All over the world experts spend hours rifling through analytics for likely linking targets, while writers take extra care to add in as many blue words as possible in the hope of a little linklove reciprocation.

It’s often a major aspect of the job for anyone who works online, and can be something of a labour of love.

Of course, there’s no solid, standard way of linking out. If only there was a dedicated expert body who could help out.

Someone like Google maybe?

If a recent patent comes to fruition, it seems the big G may have plans to undo all your hard work in favour of their own know-how.

Google recently received a patent for an 'Enhanced Document Browser with Auto-generated Linkage'.

That’s right. Automatically generated.

What’s more, the description implies that the links would be individually tailored to the reader based on their browsing history. While this may sound great to users, it’s a serious concern for the online industry as a whole.

The patent, which is an update to a 2004 filing, was granted in February and can be viewed in all its SEO ninja-terrifying glory here.

If the patent description is to be believed, the implications are staggering.

I’m going to assume that this would only be implemented on Google’s own pages or third parties that choose to opt in. The already delicate and unpredictable art we know as SEO would be completely destroyed if this was worked into a browser, as well as raising a massively complicated web property rights argument.

To be fair, how exactly this would be used isn’t covered in any depth, and may just be a case of Google filing because they can. It’s a useful doodah to take some of the grind out of their day-to-day work.

On the other hand, it’s a dynamically generated, personalized link builder that works based on personal user preference, surely the Holy Grail of SEO. 

How (and even if) Google decide to use this patent isn’t clear, but it for those of us involved in SEO (that would be every digital marketer in the world then) it means one thing. This is possible.

No more hours of keyword searching, running reports and front loading content, just write and relevant users will find you.

Sounds nice doesn't it?

Matt Owen

Published 30 July, 2010 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

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James MacAonghus

Google's current personalisation algorithm, and even those of companies like Netflix and Amazon, are so far from really knowing what you want that it could be a couple of decades before implementing this patent might make sense.

about 6 years ago

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Astrid Bidanec

I wonder if something like this is already in effect as I have seen articles on the same topic listed on google without any relevant links in it whatsoever, while a counter-piece on the exact same topic WITH relevant outgoing links did not get listed at all even if it was written prior to the link-less piece. Since this seems to happen quite often it almost leads to the assumption that adding links to a post may not be beneficial at all. What is your take on this???

about 6 years ago

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Johnny Gedye

James - anything is possible.

about 6 years ago

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Colin Bruce

I don't get the bombastic title of the article in relation to what this product looks like it does.

Surely this can be replicated with a piece of javascript that links specific words to the "I'm feeling lucky" top result in Google. No 3rd party is going to implement this unless the links drive back internally e.g. a wikipedia.

Or am I missing the grand plan?

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Hi Astrid, I agree, I think in general (and even to experts) SEO is a mystery, several factors obviously influence pagerank in addition to linkage. As Google themselves put it 'SEO is really, really hard!" Personally I'm not sure what Google would do with this either, but it's an interesting advance. I agree withJames that we're probably a long way from seeing this work, but it's interesting to ponder how it might affect ranking and SEO in the future.

about 6 years ago

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Joe Cibula

. . . tailored to the reader based on their browsing history?

We've heard this before.

There is no way any search engine will know what you want unless you can tell it what you want. That's called an inverse search. If you quit forward searching, you wouldn't leave a trail (browsing history), and traditional search engines wouldn't know anything about you. Last, but not least, if this only has to do with content or text (articles), it doesn't mean much if it does nothing for ecommerce.

about 6 years ago

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Matt G

@Colin Bruce Spot on. The title's been written for Twitter, it has no bearing on the content of the piece. From the patent: "It would be desirable to provide improved techniques for enhancing document browsing by providing automatically generated links to relevant information to the reader. " Not exactly game changing.

about 6 years ago

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Paul Martin

This is not a biggy.

My personal take on it is that it will just be a (obvious) extension of the PPC / Content Network offering they already have.

The webmaster will as a snippet of code to their site which Google will use to find related words and use them a links to paying customers sites...then charge per click.

There are many many companies that already to this. They are annoying as hell but a natural avenue along which to expand their content network.

Paul

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

*shuffles feet* *secretly watches number of retweets* yeah it's a bit baity sorry, but hey, it is about SEO isn't it....? To be honest, I'm no SEO expert (that much is probably fairly obvious), but it does raise some interesting (theoretical) questions. We all expend a lot of time and energy optimising our sites, if this was introduced in a browser then it would effectively undo all that work in favour of Google's own suggestions. This means the effect could be positive or negative. Either your content will be appealing to all the wrong people - and yes, I realise how unlikely it is that Google would want to do this - or you'll gain access to a huge, previously untapped market. Again, I'm still of the opinion that this is a toy that Google have been working on and nothing much will come of it, but it's an interesting insight into how big search companies are developing SEO tools and practices.

about 6 years ago

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Luke

What a dreadful story.  You don't even provide a single bit of rationale for why or how this could affect SEO in any way. 

"If the patent description is to be believed, the implications are staggering" - how can you make this comment without justifying it?

I knew when I clicked the link that it would be sensationalist nonsense, but couldn't resist.  How I hate being right.

about 6 years ago

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Seth Jeffery

Question. If links were all done away in favour of Google deciding what links are present based on your browsing history, wouldn't that mean that we would never discover anything new? Or topics that we never before thought we might be interested in?

about 6 years ago

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Paul B

What an utter load of tripe this article is. Will I justify that statement? No, I'll stick with the theme of this article and not bother to justify any sweeping statements I make. Matt you claim here not to be an SEO expert, well, I think that is perfectly evident from your bizarre take on what you actually think SEO is. You've fallen into the trap of believing it is far more limited in scope than it really is. Link building, to a half decent SEO, is one very small part of the process when it is a wide ranging discipline which brings together the fields of marketing and web development. Yet, on your bio you claim SEO to be one of your specialities. How strange. Perhaps, given you've admitted to not being an expert you'll be removing this soon? Also, looking at your website (with one of the most utterly childish and immature domains I've ever seen) you say, regarding blogging, "we take the medium seriously and want to take it forward ". So, you intend to do this by spouting sensationalist rubbish do you? If so, good effort!

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

I quite agree Paul, Link building is a small area of SEO, the entire process is incredibly complicated. That said I wouldn't underestimate the power of a decent link campaign as a traffic driver, particularly when combined with keyword heavy text. I suppose if we took something like this to it's logical conclusion the ultimate result would be pages of blue text and a complete breakdown in real usefulness for either site owners or users. That said, this is certainly inspiring debate. I'd be interested to hear from anyone involved in an active link-building campaign for their take on it? I still can't say I see it as being a realistically implentable system anytime soon. Just as an aside, the domain isn't mine Paul...

about 6 years ago

Marie Page

Marie Page, Director at Musicademy

I'm actually encouraged and excited by this. It should mean that great content gets found regardless of how much time and money you have invested in SEO high jinks.

about 6 years ago

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Richard

"Link building, to a half decent SEO, is one very small part of the process when it is a wide ranging discipline which brings together the fields of marketing and web development." @Paul - As an SEO, I would not employ your services based on the first half of that statement. I've seen domains' Search visibility exceptionally advanced by external link-building campaigns alone - where on-page changes have not been possible. It's a massive part of SEO, an arduous part (when carried out correctly), a creative part, and would be the single most important part - IF you had to run with a partial strategy. Of course you're right with the second half of your comment. Re; the article. To be honest, the patent doesn't offer insight into how current SEO efforts can possibly be impacted. I think it's been misinterpreted.

about 6 years ago

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The Money Coach

First, SEO will never be dead. It will just evolve.  Search engine optimization will always be alive and well, it just may one day not include links.  I don't believe this to be true (the not including links part) because a link is essentially a democratic vote as to value. 

I fully support Google in working toward eliminating spam and useless content.  I am not blindly following Google but I believe their business model works in tandem with my own in that original content and authenticity will always trump uselessness.  

That being said, you certainly got our attention with this title! 

Nanci Murdock

The Money Coach 

about 6 years ago

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Matt Chandler

It's important that Google (and other "gatekeepers" of the web) continue to evolve and create innovative new technologies. Research & IP are the lifeblood of any organisation, and the Internet industry is no different. Whether Google chooses to "do" anything with their patent is of course to be seen; but it's clearly in the commercial interests of organisations to flex their intellectual muscle and strive for competitive advantage...

about 6 years ago

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George Fischer

Good link baiting title!  I think the concept is intriguing, as do most SEOs.  The justification isn't fleshed out, but I'm not going to get upset about it.  It's not like I saw this and wrote a post about it :).

Google is constantly filing patents for various things.  Some they use, some they get just to explore the possibilities i.e file for the patent and experiment with it to improve their algorithm.  After all their algorithm is what make them $$.

SEO isn't going anywhere.  There will always be an algorithm and hence levers to pull to optimize for it.  In order to end SEO, Google would have to make some drastic changes, angering millions of users in the process. 

about 6 years ago

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Colleen Wright | SEO Training

I actively build links for my clients and it has a huge impact on my client rankings. But as indicated, there are many details that go into a great SEO campaign and they all work together to build impact.

Ideally, SEO will be implemented from the ground up with the site build. You have to think about the site architecture, internal link structure, page names and so on. Then you need to find keyword phrases that will drive the right type of traffic to your site and optimize pages for those words. You have to make sure you aren't inadvertently spamming the search engines with worn out techniques.

What about monitoring and improving and testing. Many people think SEO is a title tag and link building, but to do it right, you need to l think about so much more than this.

As far as the Google Patent goes, we will deal with it the same way we deal with anything new and unknown for example, Social Media: use it, it test it, make a few mistakes, learn from them and improve. People will never stop marketing online, they will just figure out a better way with the latest tools and adjust.

Those who learn fast and get it will win.

about 6 years ago

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Sam Osborne, SEO Specialist at Marmalade On Toast

I would imagine that this a pretense to automatically placing adsense within content. The user would opt in and aquire some of the money from it. Doesnt seem too bad to me :)

about 6 years ago

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Holly

Seems to me that any placement of links in content where the author did not opt in would be an unauthorized creation of a derivative work - a copyright violation. 

about 6 years ago

Antoine Becaglia

Antoine Becaglia, Digital Strategist at WebPropaganda Ltd

What would Google plan to kill SEO? it seemed they gave birth to SEO in the first place milking on  the term, the concept and all the buzz around...

about 6 years ago

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Sandis Viksna

Reminds me Internet Explorer and Smart Tags if I remember it right.

about 6 years ago

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paul

Why would they plan to kill SEO? as they gave birth to SEO in the first place.....journalistic hyperbole, yes ?

about 6 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

well..possibly... *looks embarrassed* Honestly, the title is tongue in cheek I'm afraid, SEO represents an incredibly important investment that it would be foolish to ignore or underestimate. Even if there is a touch of the esoteric regarding actual results and impact, it's a relatively new and evolving discipline and it will become more accurate over time. It pays to build SEO in from the start, and you should certainly avoid putting all eggs in the PPC basket. Again, I'm inclined to think this is just an interesting patent for something Google have whipped up in their back rooms, with little practical use, although dynamically created content is certainly an interesting field.

about 6 years ago

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Tim Rees

In my opinion, link building has been redundant as an SEO strategy for a while now. Many of my sites have PR0 whilst being organically listed beside  sites ranked PR7 - I can give you examples...

Whatever system or algorithm Google or any other search engine come up with it will still have to scan sites for content. Play ball with Google and they will play ball with you. Be precise and honest with regard the sites subject matter and feed the informative keyphrases to the robots via the prioritized criteria of the algorithm. For good SEO that won't change.

about 6 years ago

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Jim

Wow, some real differences of opinion, especially Tim's last comment. Tim, good luck doing SEO for Google without building in-bound links. I personally would never try it but if it works for you and your clients, more power to you! This whole discussion is about OUTbound links, which while necessary to maintain a "normal" link profile, in my opinion matter very little for organic search rankings. If you think about the problem faced by Google in presenting the most relevant results for each searcher, if OUTbound links mattered significantly, then all the spam directories out there that managed to maintain closely related anchor text on their outbound links would rank #1 for the search terms they target. Instead, it's rare for pages with over 50 outbound links to even show up in Google SERPs anywhere near page 1! Unless Google completely changes their approach to ranking pages, this ain't gonna matter.

about 6 years ago

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Bharat

HI Nice Information

about 6 years ago

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Bangalow Accommodation

Sounds like Utopia - too good to be true, or too good to be that easy.

about 6 years ago

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Jillian

I guess I will wait to see how this all plays out. I am leaning towards it is just another part of the algorithm.

about 6 years ago

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David

To be fair, how exactly this would be used isn’t covered in any depth, and may just be a case of Google filing because they can. It’s a useful doodah to take some of the grind out of their day-to-day work.

almost 6 years ago

Naval Kumar

Naval Kumar, Founder & CEO - ABSEM Limited at http://www.absem.com/

I don't think Google is planning to Kill SEO as much as the very concept they created is now working against them. 

  • Meta data was important, that got abused and dropped
  • Then links to your site were important, that is now turning into blackhat bordering around grey
  • Content was and still key but somewhere down the line keyword density gave rise to a whole new industry where spamy content became the unwanted king
  • Now you have people relying on FB likes and re-tweets because that is content approved by people you know (even if just digitally) and therefore is considered more relevant
  • Bing is already testing it with FB

To be quite honest being the owner of a boutique Search Marketing Agency myself, we quite like the idea of rating site rankings based on user interaction as oppose to bling linking. Might not be good for business initially, but it is just good to be able to explain to clients why their content needs to be for people and not just crawlers.

over 5 years ago

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Calhoun

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almost 4 years ago

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Computer chair price mumbai

SEO isn't dying. It has just become smarter. SEO is not equal to Do follow link building. SEO = Online Marketing. Google has tried to teach this very concept since the beginning but people tend to manipulate it no matter what !!

over 3 years ago

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