Four New Signals in Search

Posted on March 8, 2010


Search engines constantly look for new signals they can use to improve the quality of the results they provide to users. Ultimately, user satisfaction is a critical component in retaining or increasing their market share, especially over the long term. This article explores some of these new potential signals and the way search engines evaluate and make decisions to use a new signal.

  1. Page Load Time – Google engineer Matt Cutts discussed this factor at Pubcon in November. Cutts indicated that there is a strong movement within Google to make page load time a ranking factor because pages that load quickly improve the user experience.
  2. Clicks – In an interview with Josh Cohen of Google News, he indicated that click data is used as a ranking signal in Google News.
  3. Web References – It’s well known that Google’s Local Search results factor in Web references as a ranking factor. A Web reference is a mention of a business that isn’t implemented as a link. Web references count as votes in a manner similar to the way links are used.
  4. Social MediaFacebook and Twitter are all the rage these days, and there are a lot of potential signals available from these sites. What makes them interesting is the “freshness” of the signal. A surge of discussion on Twitter about some world event could indicate that the topic of the discussion is a hot story. The real-time responsiveness of these sites can provide a strong signal.

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