Will Google use non-link references as a signal?

Will Google use non-link references as a signal? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: This question comes from Boston. Eric Enge asks, “Do you think web search will ever make use of references (web site mentions that are not links) as a ranking signal?” So, there are two answers. The first one is I never want to take a ranking signal off the table like, you know, I’ve joked that if the phase of the moon can help us rank search that’s better, I’m willing to use the phase of the moon. At the same time, think about how people would attack the use of references. Right now, a lot of people rely on getting links. If all they have to do is have, you know, example.com in text, then you can leave that as comments all over the web and all over the blogs and all over the forums, and it would almost be anywhere you could stamp, any user-generated content, people would be leaving those references. So, you know, that’s the sort of reason why you might be skeptical about why we’d use this sort of signal because people could abuse that sort of thing. They could just leave mentions of the URLs even if they can’t generate links. But I’ll, you know, I’ll say, you know, we’re willing to look at it, you know, we would run the analysis. We would say, “Is there a way to pull out a signal from that noisy data where we could find a way to improve it?” But that’s–it would definitely be the sort of thing where people would try to abuse it.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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