Express Links vs Implied Links 101
It’s been recently discovered that Google has submitted a patent that should change the way linkbuilding is done in a drastic manner. We’ve all been aware of the linkbuilding penalties that Google has been handing out for the abuse and misuse of links, so it’s no surprise to see them taking action. In fact, this has been coming for a while, it’s just unclear how many people truly expected this kind of superb fix: implied links.
Under our current understanding of linkbuilding, ‘express links’ are the only types of links that are beneficial to a site’s ranking. An express link is your standard link that leads back to the webpage by embedding (or just plain pasting) the URL on a page. For example, http://www.Google.com is an express link. These are the links that are being used in negative SEO and link building schemes, as well as by honest internet marketers like you and me.
Enter the Implied Link
But now, Google is poised to swing the emphasis from express links to what are being called ‘implied links.’ Implied links do not actually have to include the URL to the website, they are simply implied by the mere mention of the website (or brand, product, service, etc.). This means that mentions and citations are going to be the next wave of linkbuilding, mostly because they are much harder to manipulate in order to score higher rankings in the SERPs.
This isn’t to say anything of nofollow links, we expect these to stay pretty heavy in the algorithm, but just to say that implied links are going to weigh a lot more than express links. Granted, this is mostly educated speculation right now, but the patent filed by Google certainly makes it clear that implied links are a real thing and will matter.
Reference Queries and Brand Mentions
But the changes aren’t stopping there. Not only does the Panda patent talk about express and implied links, but authority calculation will now also be affected reference queries. This is essentially a road map that starts with a very specific query that ends up in a very specific location. In other words, if 80% of all queries into “soda pop” end up on Coca Cola’s page and not Pepsi’s, Coca Cola will benefit from the reference query weight of “soda pop.”
This helps ensure that Google is directing searchers to the right pages by sending them to the places that others have found success. This determines popularity of the page by query entry, thus adding to the authority of the site. Basically, this is just another way to improve the visitor experience so keep focusing on making sure you are giving your audience exactly what they want. The better you answer their questions and meet their needs, the better your reference query scores will be.
As for brand mentions, this is just another term for implied links. They are also called mentions and if you want your brand to carry authority, you simply need other sites to talk about your brand and/or website. This is going to change the outlook on blogging since now you don’t really need anyone to place an express link in their blog, only talk about you as an authority or in some similar form.