As of January 9th, 2017 Match Media is now Blue 449

Expressed & Implied Links a Trend For 2015?

It’s the New Year – which means the industry has been buzzing for the last month about what the trends will be for the coming year. We wanted to focus on one that has been gaining a bit of traction – express vs implied links.

What are Express vs Implied Links?

On March 25th 2014, Google released a patent which is being called the “Panda patent”. This patent has no direct link to the algorithm update but interestingly used the terms “express links” and “implied links” to differentiate between link types:

  • “Express links” are hyperlinks as we know and love them – e.g. Match Media
  • “Implied links” are citations – that is, a mention of a brand or brands product without a direct hyperlink to a website – e.g. “Match Media”

What has industry pundits so excited is some of the specific directions that Google seems to be taking with regards to these link types. There has been plentiful discussion over how Google can move away from anchor rich hyperlinks (still the chief spam culprit) without ruining the quality of their search results. Hyperlinks are still the key method by which users share information with each other across the internet – heavily discounting these would no doubt result in poorer results.

Note: Readers who are searching for user friendly summaries or key points from this patent can click onto Simon Penson’s MOZ blog or look into Jayson DeMers’s Forbes article.

An Increased Focus on the Value of Citations

The patent wording specifically outlines the following:

  • Google will differentiate between what it identifies as “Express links,” and “Implied links”
  • Express links will continue to play its role in building up authority as it has in the past.
  • Implied links will play a role in determining page authority by assessing the volume of brand mentions/ implied links.
  • Google will look into discounting implied links with a no-follow command if Google identifies a large number of spammed implied links from a single source or “group”.
  • Inclusion of Reference queries which operates by:
  • Assessing what users have searched for in the past with the inclusion of brand mentions
  • Analyse what sites users have clicked onto after the search was executed
  • Map potential queries will brand mention to further build a greater understanding of the brand which can also improve the brand’s online performance

Note, that there’s no mention of reducing the value of traditional links, but there’s much more focus and discussion around the value of citations and how Google can use machine learning to understand user behaviour and relationships between the two.

Why Will Express Links be a Trend in 2015?

“Express links” have again been in the news due to the recent update (3.0) of Google’s penguin algorithm – penalising sites with obviously manipulative link profiles. The wording of this patent suggests that they’re going nowhere – for the time being. However reading between the lines it’s clear that Google is looking to improve the power of citations in the algorithm. For SEOs there’s a couple of immediate out-takes:

  • Improving Reporting
    • Most SEOs will track their link profiles, but fewer will track their mentions on a regular basis.
    • There’s plenty of free tools that can do this and OSE had improved their Fresh Web Explorer but you’ll still get the best results from a paid social suite such as Radian 6.
    • Cosy up to your social or content team – you should be anyway!
  • Building Citations
    • Moving away from “let’s build links” to “let’s build mentions”
    • Talk to your content, PR and social teams about their approaches to brand building. Be proactive and think about how you can leverage SEO to help their objectives – you’ll get a far more receptive audience.