Facebook has been awarded the patent for a click-behavior based search engine application. The United States Patent & Trademark office has today approved a patent application titled “Ranking search results based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of a social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation“. The application was filed by Facebook back in 2004 and has been awarded only recently.
The patent describes a search engine ranking algorithm that is based on popularity of websites among the users’ peer group. The patent reads,
“The invention provides still another technique to improve the relevance of search results. According to an embodiment of the invention, search results, including sponsored links and algorithmic search results, are generated in response to a query, and are ranked based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query. The predetermined degree of separation is equal to one if the click activities of only the friends of the member who submitted the query are to be examined. “
While this patent may no longer be relevant to current Facebook’s business strategies considering that the company sees more revenues coming from outsourcing the search feature to partners like Bing, it will be interesting to see how this patent will affect search engine players like Google who are likely to have such click-behavior analysis incorporated into their search engine ranking algorithm.
Curiously enough, the patent does not name Mark Zuckerberg as one of the inventors. The patent is filed in the name of Christopher Lunt, Nicholas Galbreath, Jeffrey Winner.