Update: Matt Cutts from Google’s Webspam team has confirmed that there is no link between email reputation and penalties in Google search results. Many thanks to Matt for weighing in on this issue.
Yesterday, one of our customers sent us a rather curious post by Lockergnome blogger, Jake Ludington. Titled ‘Email Reputation Causes Penalties in Google Search Results‘, it asserts that recent changes to Google’s search algorithm have resulted in possible penalties to sites who also send email newsletters. From Joel:
“Gmail tracks email reputation. It’s part of what gives Gmail some of the best spam filtering on the planet. Gmail looks at how much email your domain sends to @gmail.com addresses and assigns a score to your domain based on how engaged those @gmail.com addresses are with your content… The Gmail scoring system used to apply only to your reputation within Gmail. Google is now applying email behavior to search results. If you don’t keep your email list clean, you get slapped with a penalty…”
The skinny is that if you send to a lot of subscribers who don’t regularly open your emails, then, according to Joel, your Google rankings may suffer.
Personally, I haven’t seen or heard of any evidence to back up this claim, beyond the anecdotal – as yet, there is no official information from Google linking email reputation to search results. Joel is a customer of another email marketing service (who may take a different approach to managing feedback loops and reputation) and other factors may have resulted in this drop in traffic, so we’re definitely not asking you to purge, or segment subscribers from your lists based on advice given in a blog post. However, if he’s on the money, this has some pretty strong implications for senders.
We’d like to know if you’ve had a similar experience to Joel, so:
Do you think sending email newsletters has affected your site’s Google page rank recently? Please let us know in the comments below.
Many thanks to @Joel_Hughes on Twitter for keeping us up to speed – we really appreciate the tip. Naturally, we’ll be keeping our ear to the ground and will follow up in this blog if any new information comes to light.