Is it too farfetched to think that Google might be peering into Gmail inboxes to look for emails from important domain names as an indicator of the recipient’s personal authority? Could this in turn be used as part of Google’s search ranking algorithm?
They must often know, for example, which Gmail users also have blogs (at least ones hosted on Google’s own blogging platform, Blogger / Blogspot, but likely most others too).
If there is such cross-referencing of data at Google then then someone getting an email from the White House or Hu Jin Tao’s office, for example, should lead to their blog being ranked higher in Google searches since they would then be assigned a relatively high personal authority ranking.
This would certainly be important to know for online reputation management. Being able to arrange for high level emails to be sent to a Gmail account operated by Velvet Talk Management could help us raise the Google search rank of positive blogs we maintain for our clients and push down negative entries about them there.