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The Top 25 Movies About Social Media to Add to Your Watch List via @martinibuster

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Social media has inspired comedies, dystopian thrillers, documentaries, and horror movies.

Here is a list of the best movies related to social media, in no particular order.

1. The Social Dilemma, 2020

Documentary

Netflix

A popular movie that can’t be recommended enough.

Even if you’re in the business there are parts of this movie that will still startle.

Featuring interviews with people who invented a variety of the algorithms.

This movie balances the shock factor of what’s going on behind the scenes of social media with insights into how social media can be improved.

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2. Love, Guaranteed, 2020

Romantic Comedy

Netflix

Stars Rachael Leigh Cook, Damon Wayans Jr., Heather Graham, Kandyse McClure (Dualla on Battlestar Galactica).

Social media is defined as a social network, and what kind of network is more social than a dating app?

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This romantic comedy follows an attorney and her client who claims that a dating site guarantees love is offering a false promise.

As evidence, he offers himself, who has engaged in a thousand dates and failed to find love.

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3. The Hater, 2020

Thriller

Netflix

This is a great movie that you might never have heard of but should definitely check out.

It’s a fast-paced thriller and drama about using social media to settle personal scores.

The hero of the movie is both likable and worthy of loathing.

Don’t be put off by the fact that this is a Polish movie and you might have to read subtitles.

This movie tells a story of harnessing the power of social media like a weapon against those who may or may not deserve it.

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It’s highly relevant in today’s world of disinformation amplification yet it’s not really about social media in the same way that a movie like Taxi Driver is not about guns.

Both movies, Taxi Driver and The Hater, share a theme of the misfit trying to fit in and not really able to find a way in until circumstances create an opportunity.

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4. Emily in Paris, 2020

Comedy-drama

Netflix

I cheated.

This isn’t a movie.

But so many who have an interest in social media marketing and movies will find this so interesting that I had to fit it in.

The central character – Emily (duh!), is a social media marketer from Chicago who is sent to a Paris office where she’s met with skepticism.

She changes her Instagram handle to @emilyinparis and starts posting photos, her account goes viral.

The series is from the mind of Darren Star, the writer behind such hits as Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, and Sex and the City.

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If any of those are your favorites then it’s likely you’ll enjoy Emily in Paris as well.

There’s a bit of suspension of disbelief necessary regarding the social media, but Emily in Paris is fundamentally a fantasy not a documentary.

A little fantasy helps to get through these dark and pandemic times.

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5. Die Influencers Die, 2020

Horror

Roku

This is a B-Movie slasher exploitation flick about a group of easy-to-hate influencers meeting dreadful ends.

What’s not to like right?

Millions of social media followers are dangled in front of a small group of social media influencers in exchange for spending the night at a reportedly haunted studio in Las Vegas.

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For those who enjoy heavy metal, are annoyed by social media influencers to no end, and harbor a fondness for killer clowns…this movie is for you.

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6. Spree, 2020

Social media satire/Horror

Amazon, Vudu

A spree is defined as a sustained period of time during which an unrestrained activity is indulged.

That’s pretty much what this movie is about, a rideshare driver going to the ultimate extreme to achieve Internet fame.

Starring Joe Keery (“Steve” in Stranger Things), Spree is a dark and violent comedy that’s not necessarily for everyone.

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7. #realityhigh, 2017

Dramedy

Netflix

This is a teen dramedy about a girl going through the social media popularity rabbit hole and becoming another person to please others.

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8. Hard Candy, 2005

Thriller/Horror/Revenge

Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

This is an under-the-radar movie that might make some uncomfortable.

It stars Ellen Page (Juno, Umbrella Academy), Patrick Wilson (Conjuring, Watchmen, Aquaman), and Sandra Oh (Killing Eve, Grey’s Anatomy, Sideways, Princess Diaries).

The movie won several awards including three at the 2005 Sitges Film Festival (Best Motion Picture, Best Screenplay, and an Audience Award for Best Motion Picture) and four awards at the 2006 Spanish Malaga Film Festival (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Cinematographer).

Ellen Page won Best Actress at the 2006 Austin Film Critics Association Awards.

This is an intelligent suspense and thriller.

But it’s not for the squeamish.

It can get grueling for some.

Ellen Page stars as a 17-year-old teenager who entraps an older man via a chat room.

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Expecting illicit activities the teenager turns the table on him.

Again, I must warn that this movie is not for those with delicate sensibilities.

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9. Searching, 2018

Thriller

Amazon, Vudu, YouTube

A movie starring John Cho (Harold & Kumar, Star Trek) in the missing person genre.

The daughter goes missing and police lack leads, so the father takes to the Internet to trace the daughter’s virtual steps to find her.

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10. Ingrid Goes West, 2017

Comedy

Hulu

Stars Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza.

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Aubrey Plaza is a great actress who consistently surprises with the quirky nuance she brings to her roles and that’s also the case here.

This film is in the stalker genre but it’s also a satire of the influencer world.

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11. The Social Ones, 2020

Comedy

Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

This is a mockumentary and parody of the influencer culture, taking swipes at Instagram stars and fashion bloggers.

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12. A Simple Favor, 2018

Comedy/Thriller

Amazon, Hulu, Sling TV, Vudu, YouTube

This is a Paul Feig movie about a video blogger who gets in over her head after she befriends a woman who causes her viewership to soar.

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It’s like a noir because it has a femme fatale.

The mystery and thriller quality of the story kept me watching.

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13. Smosh: The Movie, 2015

Comedy

Amazon, iTunes, Vudu

Satire of YouTube stars starring two actual YouTube stars.

Directed by Alex Winter, star of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

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14. Friend Request, 2016

Social media mystery/Horror

Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, YouTube

A woman accepts a friend request whose mysterious death sets off a series of deaths of those who are friends with the woman.

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15. Unfriended, 2015

Social media horror

Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu

Instead of a group of young people at a camp getting murdered, it’s people on a group chat that are meeting their demise one by one.

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16. The Assistant, 2019

Comedy/Satire

Amazon

Short film 13 Minutes, available on Amazon Prime.

Comedy/satire of being an assistant to a social media influencer.

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17. The Circle, 2017

Thriller

Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes

Starring Emma Watson, John Boyega, Bill Paxton, and Tom Hanks.

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This is a cautionary tale of living life on social media based on Dave Egger’s novel.

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18. Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, 2016

Documentary

YouTube

A documentary that explores how the Internet affects society today and may affect it tomorrow.

It asks probing questions like “will our great, great-grandchildren grow up in a world where they have no need for human companionship?”

Werner Herzog is a consistently thought-provoking filmmaker.

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19. The Great Hack, 2019

Documentary

Netflix

A chilling documentary about not just about Cambridge Analytica but about the surveillance Internet.

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20. The Social Network, 2010

Drama

Netflix

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, this movie is based on the story of how Mark Zuckerburg came to found Facebook.

Highly acclaimed and a must-watch movie.

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21. American Meme, 2018

Documentary

Netflix

Featuring Paris Hilton and DJ Khaled, it’s a behind the scenes look at what it means to be a social media star and the conflicts between the reality and what’s presented.

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22. Disconnect, 2012

Drama/Thriller

Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube

Starring Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgård, Frank Grillo.

Three stories interweaved around human interaction via social media.

Lives are changed, conflicts arise, some characters face a reckoning.

All of the actors are top shelf, including a strong performance by Frank Grillo – a character actor who’s been in dozens of popular films including Mambo Kings, Minority Report, Zero Dark Thirty, and several of the recent Marvel superhero movies.

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23. Catfish, 2010

Documentary

Netflix

Documentary and indie film of two brothers who strike up a relationship with a woman over Facebook, with both sides misrepresenting who they are and their motives.

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The movie is the origin of the term Catfishing, which is the practice of pretending to be someone you are not – like pretending to be an associate of a famous person over the Internet in order to woo someone.

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24. Chef, 2014

Comedy-drama

Amazon (free), iTunes, Pluto (free), Vudu, YouTube

Starring Jon Favreau, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Sofía Vergara, Robert Downey Jr.

This is a feel-good dramedy.

A chef gets a bad review over Twitter and he responds in kind.

The Twitter argument goes viral and results in unanticipated events in his personal and business life.

It’s partially about the transformative effect that social media can have on a life.

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25. You, 2018

Dramedy/Thriller

Netflix TV Series

This is not a movie.

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Again, I cheated.

Yet it deserves to be included in a list of things to watch and chill.

The show is absolutely binge-bait, it grabs you from the beginning and you hang on tight as the story takes unexpected twists and turns.

Without spoiling anything, the series is about a smart likable guy who meets a cute college student who is between relationships.

What seems like a romantic comedy turns into something else entirely.

An enjoyable series, well worth a try.

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Featured image by the author

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

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Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

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Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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Survey says: Amazon, Google more trusted with your personal data than Apple is

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survey-says:-amazon,-google-more-trusted-with-your-personal-data-than-apple-is-–-phonearena
 

MacRumors reveals that more people feel better with their personal data in the hands of Amazon and Google than Apple’s. Companies that the public really doesn’t trust when it comes to their personal data include Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

The survey asked over 1,000 internet users in the U.S. how much they trusted certain companies such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon to handle their user data and browsing activity responsibly.

Amazon and Google are considered by survey respondents to be more trustworthy than Apple

Those surveyed were asked whether they trusted these firms with their personal data “a great deal,” “a good amount,” “not much,” or “not at all.” Respondents could also answer that they had no opinion about a particular company. 18% of those polled said that they trust Apple “a great deal” which topped the 14% received by Google and Amazon.

However, 39% said that they trust Amazon  by “a good amount” with Google picking up 34% of the votes in that same category. Only 26% of those answering said that they trust Apple by “a good amount.” The first two responses, “a great deal” and “a good amount,” are considered positive replies for a company. “Not much” and “not at all” are considered negative responses.

By adding up the scores in the positive categories,

Apple tallied a score of 44% (18% said it trusted Apple with its personal data “a great deal” while 26% said it trusted Apple “a good amount”). But that placed the tech giant third after Amazon’s 53% and Google’s 48%. After Apple, Microsoft finished fourth with 43%, YouTube (which is owned by Google) was fifth with 35%, and Facebook was sixth at 20%.

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Rounding out the remainder of the nine firms in the survey, Instagram placed seventh with a positive score of 19%, WhatsApp was eighth with a score of 15%, and TikTok was last at 12%.

Looking at the scoring for the two negative responses (“not much,” or “not at all”), Facebook had a combined negative score of 72% making it the least trusted company in the survey. TikTok was next at 63% with Instagram following at 60%. WhatsApp and YouTube were both in the middle of the pact at 53% followed next by Google and Microsoft at 47% and 42% respectively. Apple and Amazon each had the lowest combined negative scores at 40% each.

74% of those surveyed called targeted online ads invasive

The survey also found that a whopping 82% of respondents found targeted online ads annoying and 74% called them invasive. Just 27% found such ads helpful. This response doesn’t exactly track the 62% of iOS users who have used Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature to opt-out of being tracked while browsing websites and using apps. The tracking allows third-party firms to send users targeted ads online which is something that they cannot do to users who have opted out.

The 38% of iOS users who decided not to opt out of being tracked might have done so because they find it convenient to receive targeted ads about a certain product that they looked up online. But is ATT actually doing anything?

Marketing strategy consultant Eric Seufert said last summer, “Anyone opting out of tracking right now is basically having the same level of data collected as they were before. Apple hasn’t actually deterred the behavior that they have called out as being so reprehensible, so they are kind of complicit in it happening.”

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The Financial Times says that iPhone users are being lumped together by certain behaviors instead of unique ID numbers in order to send targeted ads. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says that the company is working to rebuild its ad infrastructure “using more aggregate or anonymized data.”

Aggregated data is a collection of individual data that is used to create high-level data. Anonymized data is data that removes any information that can be used to identify the people in a group.

When consumers were asked how often do they think that their phones or other tech devices are listening in to them in ways that they didn’t agree to, 72% answered “very often” or “somewhat often.” 28% responded by saying “rarely” or “never.”

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Google’s John Mueller on Brand Mentions via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller was asked if “brand mentions” helped with SEO and rankings. John Mueller explained, in detail, how brand mentions are not anything used at Google.

What’s A Brand Mention?

A brand mention is when one website mentions another website. There is an idea in the SEO community that when a website mentions another website’s domain name or URL that Google will see this and count it the same as a link.

Brand Mentions are also known as an implied link. Much was written about this ten years ago after a Google patent that mentions “implied links” surfaced.

There has never been a solid review of why the idea of “brand mentions” has nothing to do with this patent, but I’ll provide a shortened version later in this article.

John Mueller Discussing Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

John Mueller Brand Mentions

Do Brand Mentions Help With Rankings?

The person asking the question wanted to know about brand mentions for the purpose of ranking. The person asking the question has good reason to ask it because the idea of “brand mentions” has never been definitively reviewed.

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The person asked the question:

“Do brand mentions without a link help with SEO rankings?”

Google Does Not Use Brand Mentions

Google’s John Mueller answered that Google does not use the “brand mentions” for any link related purpose.

Mueller explained:

“From my point of view, I don’t think we use those at all for things like PageRank or understanding the link graph of a website.

And just a plain mention is sometimes kind of tricky to figure out anyway.”

That part about it being tricky is interesting.

He didn’t elaborate on why it’s tricky until later in the video where he says it’s hard to understand the subjective context of a website mentioning another website.

Brand Mentions Are Useful For Building Awareness

Mueller next says that brand mentions may be useful for helping to get the word out about a site, which is about building popularity.

Mueller continued:

“But it can be something that makes people aware of your brand, and from that point of view, could be something where indirectly you might have some kind of an effect from that in that they search for your brand and then …obviously, if they’re searching for your brand then hopefully they find you right away and then they can go to your website.

And if they like what they see there, then again, they can go off and recommend that to other people as well.”

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“Brand Mentions” Are Problematic

Later on at the 58 minute mark another person brings the topic back up and asks how Google could handle spam sites that are mentioning a brand in a negative way.

The person said that one can disavow links but one cannot disavow a “brand mention.”

Mueller agreed and said that’s one of things that makes brand mentions difficult to use for ranking purposes.

John Mueller explained:

“Kind of understanding the almost the subjective context of the mention is really hard.

Is it like a positive mention or a negative mention?

Is it a sarcastic positive mention or a sarcastic negative mention? How can you even tell?

And all of that, together with the fact that there are lots of spammy sites out there and sometimes they just spin content, sometimes they’re malicious with regards to the content that they create…

All of that, I think, makes it really hard to say we can just use that as the same as a link.

…It’s just, I think, too confusing to use as a clear signal.”

Where “Brand Mentions” Come From

The idea of “brand mentions” has bounced around for over ten years.

There were no research papers or patents to support it. “Brand mentions” is literally an idea that someone invented out of thin air.

However the “brand mention” idea took off in 2012 when a patent surfaced that seemed to confirm the idea of brand mentions.

There’s a whole long story to this so I’m just going to condense it.

There’s a patent from 2012 that was misinterpreted in several different ways because most people at the time, myself included, did not read the entire patent from beginning to end.

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The patent itself is about ranking web pages.

The structure of most Google patents consist of introductory paragraphs that discuss what the patent is about and those paragraphs are followed by pages of in-depth description of the details.

The introductory paragraphs that explain what it’s about states:

“Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs… for ranking search results.”

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Pretty much nobody read that beginning part of the patent.

Everyone focused on a single paragraph in the middle of the patent (page 9 out of 16 pages).

In that paragraph there is a mention of something called “implied links.”

The word “implied” is only mentioned four times in the entire patent and all four times are contained within that single paragraph.

So when this patent was discovered, the SEO industry focused on that single paragraph as proof that Google uses brand mentions.

In order to understand what an “implied link” is, you have to scroll all the way back up to the opening paragraphs where the Google patent authors describe something called a “reference query” that is not a link but is nevertheless used for ranking purposes just like a link.

What Is A Reference Query?

A reference query is a search query that contains a reference to a URL or a domain name.

The patent states:

“A reference query for a particular group of resources can be a previously submitted search query that has been categorized as referring to a resource in the particular group of resources.”

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Elsewhere the patent provides a more specific explanation:

“A query can be classified as referring to a particular resource if the query includes a term that is recognized by the system as referring to the particular resource.

…search queries including the term “example.com” can be classified as referring to that home page.”

The summary of the patent, which comes at the beginning of the document, states that it’s about establishing which links to a website are independent and also counting reference queries and with that information creating a “modification factor” which is used to rank web pages.

“…determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective count of reference queries; determining, for each of the plurality of groups of resources, a respective group-specific modification factor, wherein the group-specific modification factor for each group is based on the count of independent links and the count of reference queries for the group;”

The entire patent largely rests on those two very important factors, a count of independent inbound links and the count of reference queries. The phrases reference query and reference queries are used 39 times in the patent.

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As noted above, the reference query is used for ranking purposes like a link, but it’s not a link.

The patent states:

“An implied link is a reference to a target resource…”

It’s clear that in this patent, when it mentions the implied link, it’s talking about reference queries, which as explained above simply means when people search using keywords and the domain name of a website.

Idea of Brand Mentions Is False

The whole idea of “brand mentions” became a part of SEO belief systems because of how that patent was misinterpreted.

But now you have the facts and know why “brand mentions” is not real thing.

Plus John Mueller confirmed it.

“Brand mentions” is something completely random that someone in the SEO community invented out of thin air.

Citations

Ranking Search Results Patent

Watch John Mueller discuss “brand mentions” at 44:10 Minute Mark and the brand Mentions second part begins at the 58:12 minute mark

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