We don’t normally bother reading official patent documents, something almost enjoyable as stabbing yourself with a spoon, however US Patent 8,682,892 is worthy of attention.

This particular patent is about Google’s algorithm “Panda” and how it determines the wheat from the chaff when it comes to SEO. As you might expect it’s filled with technobabble that makes perfect sense to geeks and is completely nonsensical to everyone else. But buried inside is a secret that is vital to every PR:

“The system determines a count of independent links for the group (step 302). A link for a group of resources is an incoming link to a resource in the group, i.e., a link having a resource in the group as its target. Links for the group can include express links, implied links, or both. An express link, e.g., a hyperlink, is a link that is included in a source resource that a user can follow to navigate to a target resource. An implied link is a reference to a target resource, e.g., a citation to the target resource, which is included in a source resource but is not an express link to the target resource. Thus, a resource in the group can be the target of an implied link without a user being able to navigate to the resource by following the implied link."

This section of the patent is talking about how Google determines what are high-quality, independent links to a website. The last two sentences about implied links are the most important. Implied links describe media placements of your products, services, and brands in media, even if the publication doesn’t provide a link to your company’s website.

Google is publicly acknowledging that every time your brand gets a mention in a story, that counts as an implied link that affects your SEO, that affects how many links there are to your website, which in turn affects how well your site shows up when someone is searching for your brand. In short, PR is SEO (or part of it). It singlehandedly validates all of the PR that you’ve generated for your brand, all of the mentions and citations that you’ve accrued through hard work, reputation management, and effective public relations, even if you didn’t necessarily get an explicit link in the coverage.

It turns out the most effective form of SEO doesn’t come from a hipster with thousands of Twitter followers, it’s comes from the PR department, even if you didn’t realise it!

The next time the C-suite asks you to produce ROI on your communications activity, forget pulling out the clippings, tell them to read US Patent 8,682,892 - or to go and Google it!

See http://www.shiftcomm.com/2014/05/google-validates-that-pr-is-seo-in-patent-filing/ for the full article.