Does Google use Gmail as an SEO ranking signal?

My question is does Google use Gmail as an SEO ranking factor? Also, if Google doesn’t currently do this, why not?


If you’re into SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) you’re well aware that Google uses over 200 different ranking signals to determine the quality and relevance of each page on the internet. These ranking signals include how many links you have to a page, the type of links you have to a page, how fast the page loads, whether people stay on the page or bounce off, and the list goes on and on. Google’s mission is to combine these various ranking signals in their search algorithm to determine the most relevant web pages to display for each and every search query that they receive.

This is a mammoth task, and this task is made even more difficult by website owners (or SEO firms) who seek to manipulate Google’s search results by going around the internet creating links to their web pages. This is often done in the form of writing blog posts, commenting on blogs, submitting articles to article sites ….  blah blah blah. Its mind-numbing work, and it serves no useful purpose (other than helping you rank higher on Google, of course). 99.9% of the time the practices used to generate links to websites are effectively spammy, and do nothing to increase the world’s knowledge. They are literally a waste of everyone’s time (thanks Google!).

Google has done a great job in identifying and removing SEO spammers thanks to its Panda and Penguin updates. That said, the best way to rank at the top of Google’s search results is still to generate lots of links to your content. This needs to change.

Over recent years, Google has also been criticised for relying so heavily on using Links as a ranking signal. In today’s world, who really writes a blog post or submits articles to article submission sites? No-one. If a real person wants to share a cool or useful website with friends, family or colleagues they use social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

People think that Google has tried to combat that with the creation of its own social network (Google +), however I think that G+ is just a head-fake (something to keep its investors happy), and instead should be using its biggest (secret) social network instead.....

The Theory

Google’s biggest (secret) social network is …. Gmail.

People often criticise Google for not having access to true social data to use in their SEO ranking signals. They obviously don’t have access to Facebook’s data, they used to have access to Twitter’s data and subsequently that deal came to an end, and their Google + data is pretty well non-existent (does anyone actually use Google+? Of course not).

That said, Gmail has a massive market share because it is by far the fastest and most useful email client on the planet (seriously, put your hand up if you prefer Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, or Outlook?). Yes, real people use Gmail, and they use it lots each and every single day. 

What do people use Gmail for? Surely, a key part of using Gmail is sharing with other (real) people information about is relevant and useful. Consider the types of interactions that you have on email:

  • Asking others for a tip on who/what to use.
  • Forwarding on cool and funny things.
  • Collaborating on projects to get stuff done.
  • Checking out great offers from businesses.
  • Reading relevant and useful newsletters
  • Etc.

How would Google use Gmail as an SEO ranking signal?

Google could easily use this information as SEO ranking signals that would be much deeper and more powerful than any social network (such as Facebook or Twitter) could ever dream of. 

Using Gmail as an SEO ranking signal (or a series of signals) they could:

  • Identify who are real people (who are people that are actively and properly using email)
  • Identify what links are being shared by real people.
  • Identify what levels of interaction there is around those links (Are they being clicked on? Are they being shared or forwarded to others?)

This is all deep level interaction. The type of interaction that real people don’t have about spammy websites. Surely, this would go a long way towards cleaning up the Google search results, and putting an end to link building by spammy websites and SEO companies.

About the Author

Danial Ahchow is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Service Central.

Service Central was the world’s first online marketplace for local services. Since launching in 2005, Service Central has been cloned by a number of copy cats including Red Beacon and Thumbtack in the US, Service Seeking and One Flare in Australia, and My Builder in the UK.

Service Central has built up a solid marketplace for tradespeople and local services. As of December 2012, over $995,000,000 worth of transactions have taken place on the Service Central platform. We look forward to cracking the $1 Billion mark shortly.

Read more about Service Central here:

In 2013, the team at Service Central will also be launching a collaborative works management platform called Eaco: 

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