Google has been granted what could be its patent for the controversial Panda update. It was filed on September 28, 2012, a year and a half after the update first launched, and awarded this week on March 25th.
It may or may not be related to the actual Panda update, though Search Engine Land seems pretty sure that it is with the headline "Google Granted Patent For Panda Algorithm". Update: They've now updated the story to say, "This patent may have nothing to do with the Panda algorithm, to be fair."
Here's the abstract for the patent on "Ranking Search Results":
Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage media, for ranking search results. One of the methods includes determining, for each of a plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of independent incoming links to resources in the group; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group; and associating, with each of the plurality of groups of resources, the respective group-specific modification factor for the group, wherein the respective group-specific modification for the group modifies initial scores generated for resources in the group in response to received search queries.
The patent holds the name of apparent Panda update author Navneet Panda along with that of Vladimir Ofitserov.
I'll leave it to the Internet's authority on Google patents, Bill Slawski, to explain, as he says he'll be digging into it more.
Last month marked the three-year anniversary of the original Panda update. It has since been integrated with Google's indexing, and is no longer announced each time it rolls out. Google has indicated it launches roughly once a month.
The update has harmed many businesses, and forced some to "Google-proof" their sites.
Google recently said it's working on the "next generation" of the Panda, which it said will be kinder to small businesses and small sites. We'll see.
Image via Wikimedia Commons