Alister Cameron, who is guest blogging at Problogger, mined Google's Blogsearch patent application to determine how Blogsearch ranks posts. It is somewhat surprising to a novice like me that blogrolls and feed readers actually matter.
But the real stunner came at the end:
 References to the blog document by other sources may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. For example, content of emails or chat transcripts can contain URLs of blog documents. Email or chat discussions that include references to the blog document is a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.
Alister clarifies for us:
Are you thinking what I’m thinking?! Google has a massively popular hosted email service - GMail. They also have Google Talk, a chat service. You probably knew that. But did you know Google has intentions of crawling the content of your GMail emails and Google Talk chat sessions?! Now, I don’t know if they actually do that or not, and I haven’t gone hunting thru their terms of service seeking clarity, but their stated aim is clear: to find URLs in two key forms of personal online communications (email and chats), and to use these discoveries to further rank blogs and blog posts.
That's downright impressive. It means that forwarding posts via Gmail (or forwarding them through Google reader) will actually help Mere Orthodoxy get ranked on blogsearch (hint, hint!). Ironic that today's post on Liviu Librescu was actually picked up by Blogsearch, driving a lot more traffic here than normal. I wonder to what extent being quick matters for Blogsearch, as when I posted it there were few posts on him and mine stayed relatively high for most of the day.
Regardless, it's clear Google is integrating all of its services to determine the most popular and helpful content on the web for any given topic. That's just impressive.
Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.