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There are many factors that are considered when a search engine ranks your website.  In fact, there’s hundreds, possibly thousands of factors.  Many are commonly known or assumed.

For some time now there’s been potential ranking factors that cross my mind that I’ve wondered if search engines use or what reason’s they’d have not to use.  Perhaps they do, but these alternative ranking factors might not be as widely known or publicized.  I’m talking about non-website rankings factors.  Break out the crystal ball (again).

website ranking factors

Most of the current, known ranking factors rely on how good your website is or how good the websites that point to you are.  The common denominator is that all signals come from websites.  There’s so many other sets of data that could provide equally relevant citations or “backlinks” of sorts.

  • Instant Messengers
  • Emails
  • What you’re currently doing

Instant Messengers

Instant messages provide detailed looks into intimate conversations.  Conversations that aren’t artificial and aren’t intended to manipulate rankings.  Google has GoogleTalk, Yahoo has Yahoo Messenger, and Bing (Microsoft) has Skype.  Why wouldn’t Google or the other search engines use any positive commentary in an instant message about a domain to give a positive ranking vote in that domain’s favor?  Likewise, why wouldn’t Google consider ranking a website lower after enough chatter online complaining about bad experiences?

Yes, I understand that instant messages are private conversations.  Don’t fool yourself if you don’t think search engines aren’t already using your info to profile you.  I’ve seen for myself.  Just recently I joked with a colleague in a Skype message about how someone re-schedule on me and that it threw off my day.  I sarcastically commented that it depressed me.  You can see the sarcasm as I followed up repetitive instances of words that start with D with “Sally sells seashells.”  In less than five minutes, the very next ad on Skype’s dashboard was about depression.  See my “stfu” moment of surprise below.

instant message intrusive ads

Emails

Like instant messengers, emails provide intimate detail into how people really feel about something.  All of the major search engines have their own version of a free email service.  Google has Gmail, Yahoo has Ymail, and Bing has Hotmail and Live.  Google already admits that emails are scanned.  Why wouldn’t a search engine also use email commentary for or against a website’s ranking? Or, why not rank a website lower if they continually show up on spam blacklists?

What you’re currently doing

What you’re currently doing?  Like, watching TV?  Yes.  Like watching TV.  Exactly.  In a patent filed in May of 2011, Google filed writes about a “System and method for enhancing user search results by determining a television program currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device.”

It makes sense.  If you’re watching a show, and you want to know more information about an actor, Google could help direct you to information about that actor quicker.  For example, if you start to Google “Chuck Norris” and you’re watching Walker, Texas Ranger, it’d be quicker and more accurate for Google to return Chuck Norris autocomplete results than it would be to return results about Chuck Woolery.  Both are TV personalities, but why not jump right into results about all-things-Chuck Norris right away?  If Google knows what you’re watching, why not?

What do you think?  Would these type of ranking signals return more accurate results?  The world of offline and online seem to be blending more seamlessly by the day.