Google Webmaster Tools , under Statistics:Subscriber Stats, now shows how many subscribers to your feed they are aware of via data from Orkut and Google Reader and Gmail.
I can’t help but assume that this data will be incorporated into an algorithm update, one that is designed to shift weight away from the IBL (in bound links) Bohemoth, which has become a bane and frustration at Google as they struggle with the rampant practice of buying text links for popularity. I don’t buy links so I am inclined to welcome this type of an update. If site popularity is influenced more heavily by who subscribes to your feed (if you have one) then this brings Google ever closer to a social media model as they would be using more peer review to determine a sites trustworthiness based upon real data showing feed subscriber behavior.
I guess if a site doesn’t have a feed this should be part of the equation also so maybe Subscriber popularity would just be used as part of ranking sites that do have a feed.
And if you have a feed, start paying more attention to it, and nurture it so it is lively and useful and you will gain subscribers and not see any rank fall over just this matter. Make your Feed content excellent or maybe stop feeding to avoid a feed slacker penalty.
It’s all just a hunch. But I am curious,
What do you think about this?