What this means is that simply being mentioned in social media or on other pages online are gaining more weight in determining search engine rankings. The idea behind this is so that the most popular sites actually get ranked higher rather than sites with extremely intricate link-building strategies. This doesn’t mean link-building will suddenly become far less important, but it does mean Google is apparently refining their algorithm in this way.
It’s obviously too soon to tell, but it’s not a bad idea to make sure your fans and/or customers mention you in a positive light where ever they can. It’s also a good idea to make sure your brand - whether it’s your own name, your website’s name or your company’s name - is mentioned as often as possible in good context. To be fair, this has been a good strategy for a while, but it’s interesting to see that clearly Google is picking up on brand mentions as a new signal for ranking. It could be a very good thing.
If this patent truly has revealed this future change to the Google algorithm, it should not scare you away from link building. No-follow tagged links are still important and high-quality follow links should still be your bread and butter for building your site’s rankings. However, keep in mind that simply being mentioned may very suddenly become very important, and those that have picked up on this could suddenly be outranking you. It also makes it more important than ever to use Google Alerts and other social media tools to see how you’re being mentioned.
Overall, this could be a very good change for search results, as there are plenty of websites out there that have built their entire online presence around link-building - some with far more quality portfolios than others and Google has taken notice. This could be a really good thing for Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). It could also lead to a lot of shameless promotion. We shall see.