Monthly Archives: July 2008

Google TrustRank Myth Busted!

[Update]
Well since this post was written, it seems that Google has decided to release something else which it’s calling TrustRank. The original TrustRank confusion was related to detecting and filtering spam, while the latest iteration is to do with calculating the “trust” of users bnased on the quality of annotations, reviews and tags they provide. These signals may be used to reorder the ranks of pages in the results.

Bill Slawski, as usual, has a great rundown of what it is from the Google Trust Rank patent filings

Original Post:
If you search Google for TrustRank you will find many blogs and forums talking about it and giving advice and theories about what you can do to alter it, but the fact of the matter is that it just simply does not exist.

At pubcon 2007 Suresh Babu interviewed Matt Cutts and asked him specifically to define TrustRank. Below is the video of that interview.

For those of you not able to watch the video, here’s a transcript where Matt Cutts talks about its origins and confusion between a Yahoo intern’s project and an antiphishing filter Google was developing.

What is trustrank? everybody’s curious about that. It’s kinda nice you asked because it’s good to have a chance to debunk this a little bit. So it turns out there was a summer intern who was at Yahoo and Jan Pedersen and some other people at Yahoo, and they wrote a paper about something called TrustRank; and what it does is it tries to treat reputation like it’s physical mass and see how it flows around on the web and what physical properties does trust have; and it’s really interesting stuff. But it’s completely separate from Google. So a couple of years ago at like the exact same time, Google was working on an antiphishing filter, and as part of that we needed to come up with a name for it and so they filed for a trademark, and I think they used the name TrustRank, so it was a really weird coincidence. Yahoo had a TrustRank project and we had this TrustRank trademark, and so everybody talks about TrustRank, TrustRank, TrustRank and yet if you go and ask five different SEOs you’ll have five different opinions and definitions about exactly what TrustRank is.

If you go to the US Patent and Trademark website and do a trademark search you’ll find this result:

Word Mark TRUSTRANK
Goods and Services (ABANDONED) IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Computer services, namely organizing information, sites and other resources available on computer networks
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 78588592
Filing Date March 16, 2005
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition December 6, 2005
Owner (APPLICANT) Google Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View CALIFORNIA 94043
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD
Abandonment Date February 29, 2008

If you go to the advanced published applications search page on US Patent and Trademark website and search for Trustrank you will find these results. Notice that none of them are filed by or Assigned to Google, although there are references to Yahoo’s link-based spam detection patent application.

IDENTIFYING SOURCES OF MEDIA CONTENT HAVING A HIGH LIKELIHOOD OF PRODUCING ON-TOPIC CONTENT
Inventors: Wolters; Timothy J.; (Superior, CO) ; Setayesh; Mehrshad; (Lafayette, CO)
Assignee Name and Adress: COLLECTIVE INTELLECT, INC. Boulder CO
Serial No.: 938691
Series Code: 11
Filed: November 12, 2007


SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SECURE, ANONYMOUS, AND PERTINENT REPOSTING OF PRIVATE BLOG POSTING, ETC.

Inventors: Drayer; Jay A.; (Houston, TX) ; Howe; Grant M.; (Cypress, TX)
Serial No.: 923366
Series Code: 11
Filed: October 24, 2007

Enhanced Detection of Search Engine Spam
Inventors: Caldwell; Larry Thomas; (Annandale, VA)
Assignee Name and Adress: Idalis Software, Inc. Annandale VA
Serial No.: 871539
Series Code: 11
Filed: October 12, 2007

System and method for characterizing a web page using multiple anchor sets of web pages
Inventors: Joshi; Amruta Sadanand; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Ravikumar; Shanmugasundaram; (Cupertino, CA) ; Reed; Benjamin Clay; (Morgan Hill, CA) ; Tomkins; Andrew; (San Jose, CA)
Assignee Name and Adress: Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale CA
Serial No.: 542079
Series Code: 11
Filed: October 3, 2006

Dynamic updating of display and ranking for search results

Inventors: Ferrenq; Isabelle; (Saint Lattier, FR) ; Chevalier; Pierre-Yves; (Biviers, FR)
Assignee Name and Adress: EMC Corporation
Serial No.: 522498
Series Code: 11
Filed: September 15, 2006

User-sensitive pagerank
Inventors: Berkhin; Pavel; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Fayyad; Usama M.; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Raghavan; Prabhakar; (Saratoga, CA) ; Tomkins; Andrew; (San Jose, CA)
Assignee Name and Adress: YAHOO! INC.
Serial No.: 474195
Series Code: 11
Filed: June 22, 2006

Providing a rating for a web site based on weighted user feedback

Inventors: Repasi; Rolf; (Sunrise Beach, AU) ; Clausen; Simon; (New South Wales, AU)
Serial No.: 803922
Series Code: 11
Filed: May 16, 2007

Search engine with augmented relevance ranking by community participation
Inventors: Xu; Zhichen; (San Jose, CA) ; Berkhin; Pavel; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Rose; Daniel E.; (Cupertino, CA) ; Mao; Jianchang; (San Jose, CA) ; Ku; David; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Lu; Qi; (Saratoga, CA) ; Walther; Eckart; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Tam; Chung-Man; (San Francisco, CA)
Serial No.: 478291
Series Code: 11
Filed: June 28, 2006

Trust propagation through both explicit and implicit social networks
Inventors: Berkhim; Pavel; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Xu; Zhichen; (San Jose, CA) ; Mao; Jianchang; (San Jose, CA) ; Rose; Daniel E.; (Cupertino, CA) ; Taha; Abe; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Maghoul; Farzin; (Hayward, CA)
Assignee Name and Adress: Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale CA
Serial No.: 498637
Series Code: 11
Filed: August 2, 2006

Realtime indexing and search in large, rapidly changing document collections
Inventors: Rose; Daniel E.; (Cupertino, CA) ; Mao; Jianchang; (San Jose, CA) ; Walters; Chad; (San Francisco, CA)
Assignee Name and Adress: Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale CA
Serial No.: 498706
Series Code: 11
Filed: August 2, 2006

Using community annotations as anchortext
Inventors: Rose; Daniel E.; (Cupertino, CA) ; Mao; Jianchang; (San Jose, CA) ; Xu; Zhichen; (San Jose, CA) ; Ku; David; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Lu; Qi; (Saratoga, CA) ; Walther; Eckart; (Palo Alto, CA) ; Tam; Chung-Man; (San Francisco, CA)
Serial No.: 498682
Series Code: 11
Filed: August 2, 2006

Link-based spam detection
Inventors: Barkhin; Pavel; (Sunnyvale, CA) ; Gyongyi; Zoltan Istvan; (Stanford, CA) ; Pedersen; Jan; (Los Altos Hills, CA)
Assignee Name and Adress: Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale CA
Serial No.: 198471
Series Code: 11
Filed: August 4, 2005

So since Google has dropped the trademark, does not have any patent applications for it and Matt Cutts explained the confusion, I think I’d call this myth busted!