Google’s rumored (and now confirmed) purchase of FeedBurner has gotten plenty of press, but for all the wrong reasons. While everyone is weighing in as to whether the purchase is more about mindshare or monetizing RSS feeds, there has been very little said about the implications of this move on the future of SEO in general and link building specifically.
Now that this deal has gone through, Google has gained access to millions of pieces of user-data which collectively is a very reliable separate indicator of user preferences. Coupled with their SE algorithm, these RSS subscriber figures will provide Google with a set of end-user preferences which is far more comprehensive and thus difficult for SEO’s to game.
For example, if a site has a top-notch backlink footprint but less than a dozen feed subscribers it’s a certain red flag to GOOG that the site might not be as trustworthy as its backlink profile suggests.
If Google is planning on incorporating feed subscription figures and Google Toolbar browsing data to go along with with a site’s backlink footprint into SE rankings, we’re going to be looking at an entirely new and far more complex game for SEO’s and traditional “link builders”.
While this change, if it occurs at all, is still six months out, now is the time to start considering the implications of this shift and how it will affect ranking strategies. I can think of a few things we’re likely to see the day after this shift in the algo is made public:
+TLA Feeds – “Publishers rent out your RSS subscriptions”
+PayPerTraffic – “Rent regular traffic by users with active Google Toolbars”
+Accessibility becomes a more central component in SE rankings as having your site render properly in obscure browsers means more feed subscribers.
+Under the table RSS subscription rings replacing Social Media voting rings
+Every Webmaster switches their RSS feed to Feedburner
Maybe I’m just paranoid, but as I see it, those of us that make a living off of ranking well are about to have to step up our game.