Do Google +1s Really Affect SEO?

This is a guest post by Kevin Lau.

Google+ is still gaining some traction online, slowly building an audience and drawing more people in to give it a try for the first time. Perhaps most importantly, marketers are still getting used to how things work, in particular with reference to the Google +1 button.


Whenever you read items in your information stream from other users of Google+, you’ll see you have the ability to +1 them if you like them.


You can also +1 anything you see on a website, so for example if you read an article you particularly like and it gives you the opportunity to +1 it, you can do so. It makes it easier to get more involved with other sites and also of course for other people to get more involved in yours, if you supply them with a +1 button they can use.

But what about ranking more highly in the search results? If two pages are created as total equals and one page has more +1s than the other, would that page rank higher in the search results because of this? This is an interesting question that has been popping up online of late, and it is worth exploring the possibilities. It should however be remembered that Google is making a lot of changes to how they present their search results at the moment, so there could be more improvements made that will change how +1 sites are presented.

More +1s Does Not Mean You’ll Be More Popular in Search Results

In the above example it is likely that both sites would rank the same, since the +1s are not used to enhance the search engine positioning of a particular page or site (at least not at the moment, from what we can tell, although as mentioned above this could change at some point).

But here’s the thing. If you have a Google+ account and you are signed into it, you will notice that you have more personalized search results. If you search for something and a website pops up that people you know on Google+ have +1’d, it will show as such in the results. It might say that Joe Bloggs and seven other people have +1’d it. So you’re getting more in depth results than you would get otherwise.

Now with this being the case you’d be more likely to click on that link than you would be to click on a link that no one you knew had +1’d. You know other people you are familiar with and have some degree of trust in have already expressed their approval of the page, so you’re more likely to do the same. So instead of automatically going for the first one or two results on page one, you might actually be more likely to click on a result that is further down, if you see that other people you know have recommended it. As you can see, +1s are extremely powerful when lots of people start using them.

Do +1s Have Any Bearing on SEO at All?

Clearly they do in some sense, but they don’t look to be relevant in terms of ranking any website higher than it already is. However they do have the power to make a website more clickable if it has already received lots of +1s. So in this sense they can have a bearing on SEO รขโ‚ฌโ€œ just not in the way you might think.

Sounds confusing? It might be a little, but once you get your head around it you’ll see that it is worth getting as many +1s for your own site as you can. It may help it do better and receive more click throughs in the future. Fortunately it is easily done by giving people a +1 button on every page of your site that is easily seen and easy to click. Promoting your membership of Google+ is another good way to enhance your results.

Finally it is worth noting that things may always change in the future. Google is, after all, a huge search engine provider above all else. Their social network and +1 facility could all end up influencing the search results more than they do at present. Needless to say, we’ll be watching very closely indeed.

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  1. says

    You are probably right about that, Kevin. I realized that +1 doesn’t really do much impact in SERP.

    However, I do realize that there some improvement if you actually have some of your friends around your Google+ circle to +1 on an article that is related to what you are searching, it will rank higher. Have you come across this before?

    Not too sure whether this is a personalization search result or not.
    Alan Tay just posted How to get early traffic from blog commenting

  2. says

    I absolutely agree that bloggers need to have the Google+1 button on their blogs. This is why I switched from using the ShareBar to the DiggDigg plugin. Integration of +1 was built-in and I didn’t need to fuss with code.
    Being active on Google+ can only help you and I was really pleased to see HootSuite add Google + page sharing as part of their services offered. Thanks for the post Kevin.
    Ileane just posted How To Add Your Google+ Business Page to HootSuite

  3. says

    So, we are just guessing here? Where are the tests? Most things I have read point to being active on Google Plus, along with the author rank proves better results.

  4. says

    Personally I think it’s just a matter of time until the +1s do directly affect search engine rankings. I’d be quite surprised if they really do ignore +1s in a case where a page has a significant number. With SEO it is tough to prove this kind of stuff though because there are always so many other factors at play. So you can almost never have 2 pages that are really at the exact same level.
    Jeremy just posted Advanced Keyword Strategy For Your Blog

  5. says

    Interesting research, Kevin.

    Of course, as you and I well know, there’s no such thing as two similar/same posts or pages as far as Google is concerned.

    No matter how many G+ votes they have, Google will rank them according to the domain authority, relevancy, links, etc.

    However, what +1 do do is personalized your results. You are more likely to see results that were +1’ed by your friends, and that’s where the real (and possibly the only) power of +1 button lies.
    Ana just posted 5 Ways to Get Feng Shui Links from Traffic Generation Cafe

  6. says

    Hi Kevin,
    Google is testing, but I do not think the + button will affect the rankings. Then will every seo company start 1000’s blogs and websites and press + on their customers articles and web pages to get them up in the serp.

  7. says

    Hi Kevin,

    What can it hurt to have a Google+ button on your site and get as many +1’s as you can?

    Google’s still making algorithm changes, and let’s hope so ๐Ÿ˜‰ but getting as much social interaction as you can only seems logical to me. I’m thinking the personalized results that Google+ will give your pages has to be worth something.

    Liz :-)
    Liz McGee just posted Deep Linking – Stop Linking To Your Home Page!

  8. says

    The whole thing is very confusing. Looks like I might need to phone Mr Cutts and speak to the man himself and get an answer from the horses mouth. Till then, all we can do is keep guessing.Who knows what’s happening. But having those buttons on the site is a must to keep everyone happy.
    Shalu Sharma just posted Monsoon in India

  9. says

    For now, getting +1’s is important because when a Google+ user +1’s something it is listed on their Google+ page. This may encourage their connections to check it out so it can help drive traffic. It’s likely that the +1 button will have a larger role in the future.

  10. says

    +1’s also come into play when you look something up on Google (while logged into your Google account) and a search result comes up that someone from your circles has +1’d previously.

    Couldnt agree more with that picture though.. I live for the weekends! ๐Ÿ˜‰
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