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Does Google Plus One Affect Search Rankings?

Introduced in 2011, +1 is Google’s response to the widely successful and popular Facebook ‘like’ button. Basically if you find a certain story, post or webpage beneficial or just enjoy the content, you can simply ‘click’ the +1 icon. Google says by +1-ing a result you’re essentially giving it your endorsement or stamp of approval. In theory more +1’s on a result should send signals back to Google that the page in question is interesting and popular. It’s that simple . . . however is Google actually using all those +1’s in their ranking algorithm yet?

According to some recent studies conducted by Dr. Matt Peters of the Moz Data Science Team and Searchmetrics, sharing content on Google+ not only has the potential to influence search rankings in significant ways, but the correlation for +1s is actually higher than that for Facebook activity.

And when you consider the 3 primary factors that make sharing content on Google+ unique among other social networks, the case in support of Google +’s ability to help improve your rankings becomes more compelling . . .

1. URL’s shared on Google+ are crawled and indexed very quickly unlike on Facebook where because of privacy settings and other data restrictions, many posts are simply missed entirely by Google.

2. Any posts and pages shared on Google + help accumulate PageRank which in-turn translates to link equity as well.

3. Google + posts more closely resemble blog posts in that when shared they can gather internal links.

Still, despite these factors, Google’s head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, insists that Google’s +1 data has no effect on rankings whatsoever. In fact Cutts was quoted recently as saying: “If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking. Rather than chasing +1s, your time is much better spent making great content.”

So does Google + posses actual SEO value or not? The jury’s still out for now, but the debate rages on.


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