Google’s PageRank algorithm could become obsolete very soon with Google losing the exclusive patent to the system some time this year.
The PageRank technology was created by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin while still attending Stanford University, which actually owns the patent to PageRank. Google, however, has the exclusive licensing rights to it until 2011 and come 2017 the patent will expire completely.
This would explain why Google is concentrating so heavily on introducing new features like the search engine Caffeine and instant search results page. But will this make people forget that small green bar on the top of a web page?
As stated in Google’s 10-K 2009 filing:
We hold a perpetual license to this patent. In October 2003, we extended our exclusivity period to this patent through 2011, at which point our license will become non-exclusive. The PageRank patent expires in 2017.
So what would it mean for webmaster and the SEO industry as a whole? In simple terms it would mean that this technology can soon be used by other search engines IF Google decides not to renew their exclusivity rights like they did back in 2003.
PageRank has always been an important indicator for webmasters to gauge the popularity of their webpages. Whenever Google updates the PageRank algorithm, the online world is a buzz as many webpages are impacted – either negatively through a drop in page rank or positively with an increase in quality back links to their site. However, Google already has webmasters concentrating on instant search results, page previews and places page so that they don’t feel the sudden absence of PageRank.
Webmasters have long been in the habit of checking the PageRank allocation of all web pages listed on a scale of 0 to 10 where a PageRank of 10 means that page has the highest popularity. But, if any of the other search engines take up the technology (once the patent expires) you might soon see a page rank for your webpage on these search engines also. This is sure to cause confusion when pages have different page ranks scores across different search engines.
In other news, there is a whisper that Google will do a PageRank update very soon this month (they usually do one at the beginning of each year), but if that does not happen perhaps Google is after all trying to kill that small green bar once and for all.