Google Ranking Signals - Topical Authority
Authority plays multiple roles in how Google may rank pages in search, from local search to organic search to authorship-based search results. We see people using "authority" to describe the effect of links from government sites and educational sites, though there's actually little to support the importance of such links or the "authority" of such sources.Local Search Authority
How authoritative is a web page for a query, or a business location, or a category or an entity? We know that Google attempts to assess such values, and one of the patent filings they published on local search described how they might assign a specific web page to a business location for purposes of Google Maps, in "Authoritative document identification".
I wrote about the patent with the following post:
Authority Documents for Google's Local Searchhttp://www.seobythesea.com/2006/07/authority-documents-for-googles-local-search/
Authority for a location may look at a number of signals, that might include such things as:
(1) The page has links pointing to it from pages that that mention all or part of the location or the business name.
(2) The page has links pointing to it where the anchor text matches all or part of the business name.
(3) The page has a title matching all or part of the business name.
(4) The domain name of the page matches all or part of the name of the business name.
(5) The business is associated with a single locationAuthority for Query Phrases and Categories
There are a number of signals that might be used to determine how "authoritative" a page or site might be for specific queries or categories.
In the patent filing "Propagating useful information among related web pages, such as web pages of a website", we are told that some pages might be more authoritative than others for certain query phrases and for business locations (this patent shares an inventor with the one above). The patent is at:http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20070233808.PGNR.&OS=dn/20070233808&RS=DN/20070233808
I wrote about this patent filing in the post "GOOGLE DETERMINING SEARCH AUTHORITY PAGES AND PROPAGATING AUTHORITY TO RELATED PAGES" which is at: http://www.seobythesea.com/2007/10/google-determining-search-authority-pages-and-propagating-authority-to-related-pages/
Some of the signals that might be used to identify "authority" on a page or site as described in this patent:
(1) The term is used in references to the page such as links.
(2) The term is used in places like a business name in directories like a the Yellow Pages entry, showing the home page as the website for the business.
(3) The term is used in the domain name.
(4) The term is a registered trademark, associated with the home page of the Website.
(5) As a "strength of confidence score", the probability the search query term will provide a good search result which users will click upon, and stay for a while before returning back to the search results to click upon a different result.
(6) Other sources showing a Website is authoritative for a term.Navigational queries
Some queries are navigational queries in that when someone performs a search for them, it's not as if they were looking for information about them, but rather that they were trying to visit that page. For example, when I type "ESPN" into my search toolbar, I don't want to find information about the network, but instead want to visit it. Maybe that has something to do with the site not being at espn.com
, but instead at espn.go.com
. But, Google will show ESPN as the top result in response to my query.
Google does have a patent on navigational queries, which is:
Navigational resources for querieshttp://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&S1=08326826&OS=PN/08326826&RS=PN/08326826
The abstract for the patent tells us in part:If a quality score for the revised query is greater than a quality score threshold and a navigation score for the revised query is greater than a navigation score threshold, then a navigational resource for the revised query is identified and associated with the candidate query. The association specifies the navigational resource as being relevant to the candidate query in a search operation.
I've broken down the patent in my post, HOW GOOGLE MAY IDENTIFY NAVIGATIONAL QUERIES AND RESOURCES, located at:http://www.seobythesea.com/2012/12/navigational-queries-resources/
The patent describes looking at query sessions and click logs to see what people select when searching for a specific query. It uses information such as long clicks to determine whether or not people intended to go to specific pages based upon those long clicks (a measure of user satisfaction with the page clicked upon). This helps to identify if a query is a navigational one, with a specific page as an "authoritative" result for that query.Entity Association
Google attempts to understand when a query contains a named entity within it, and may associate a specific web site with that entity. We see this described in the patent
Query rewriting with entity detectionhttp://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PTXT&S1=7,536,382.PN.&OS=pn/7,536,382&RS=PN/7,536,382
The abstract for the patent tells us:A system receives a search query, determines whether the received search query includes an entity name, and determines whether the entity name is associated with a common word or phrase. When the entity name is associated with a common word or phrase, the system generates a link to a rewritten query, performs a search based on the received search query to obtain first search results, and provides the first search results and the link to the rewritten query. When the entity name is not associated with a common word or phrase, the system rewrites the received search query to include a restrict identifier associated with the entity name, generates a link to the received search query, performs a search based on the rewritten search query to obtain second search results, and provides the second search results and the link to the received search query.
If you do a search at Google for [space needle hours], you'll see that the first 4-5 results are from spaceneedle.com
, which Google appears to have associated with the entity, "Space Needle".Authorship and Topical Authority
We don't seem to have a logged out Agent Rank or Author Rank in use by Google at the moment, except possible in Google's "In Depth articles, but in private search results (logged in, where social results are turned on), we do seem to see relevant results from people who are connected to us. We don't know all the details on how those are ranked, but there is a series of patents from Google that do describe the use and importance of topical authority for pages and how that may be determine.
I linked to one of those with this post, but the whole series is worth exploring in more detail. I include links to those in the post, GOOGLE PATENTS ON AUTHOR SIGNATURE VALUES AND AUTHORITY SCORES, at http://www.seobythesea.com/2013/06/google-patents-on-author-signature-values-and-authority-scores/
Authors may be associated with topics that they write about, and be seen as having some level or amount of authority on those topics.
Google does use the term "authority" in a few different ways to determine how it might make associations between different businesses and websites, between different entities and web sites, between different queries and websites, and between authors and the content that they might create.
Exploring how Google might see something, or someone as authoritative may open up some opportunities to you.