The Google +1 Button Has No “Direct Effect” On Rankings, But…

    October 7, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google’s +1s do not have a direct effect on a site’s ranking in search results. Google’s Matt Cutts said as much in a “Power Searching With Google” hangout on Google+ (via Alex Graves). However, he did indicate that Google is really only getting started with authorship, which he hinted will only become a stronger signal going forward.

Have you seen benefits of getting people to click the +1 button on your content? Let us know in the comments.

Right now, it seems, Google cares a lot more about authorship, and expects this to become possibly a weightier signal in the future. Here’s more of what Cutts had to say in the hangout:

“In the short term, we’re still going to have to study and see how good the signal is, so right now, there’s not really a direct effect where if you have a lot of +1s, you’ll rank higher. But there are things like, we have an authorship proposal, where you can use nice standards to markup your webpage, and you’ll actually see a picture of the author right there, and it turns out that if you see a picture of the author, sometimes you’ll have higher click through, and people will say, ‘oh, that looks like a trusted resource.’ So there are ways that you can participate and sort of get ready for the longer term trend of getting to know not just that something was said, but who said it and how reputable they were.”

“I think if you look further out in the future and look at something that we call social signals or authorship or whatever you want to call it, in ten years, I think knowing that a really reputable guy – if Dan has written an article, whether it’s a comment on a forum or on a blog – I would still want to see that. So that’s the long-term trend.”

“It’s just the case that that picture is just more likely to attract attention. It’s just a little more likely to get the clicks, and you now, it’s almost like an indicator of trust.”

“The idea is you want to have something that everybody can participate in and just make these sort of links, and then over time, as we start to learn more about who the high quality authors are, you could imagine that starting to affect rankings.”

This is not the first time Cutts has downplayed the significance of the +1 button with regards to ranking. At SMX Advanced back in June, Cutts said (according to a liveblogged account of the conversation), “When we look at +1, we’ve found it’s not necessarily the best quality signal right now.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how Google progresses with how it handles social signals, because it may have some major competition right around the corner. You know that little social network that just surpassed a billion active users? They’re talking about doing search. Here’s what Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said about it this past week:

“As Mark said, I think people are surprised how much search is done on Facebook, you know, every day there’s enormous percentage of search. There’s also a promise in the market that search could become more social that we don’t think this has been met. When you’re looking for information, the question is who do you want it from, the wisdom of crowds or the wisdom of friends? Our answer is the information that’s most relevant for users is really about friends. That if I’m looking for a restaurant to go to in New York this week, I’d rather get a recommendation from a friend. That’s really what we’re working on.”

OK, so getting a bunch of +1s on your content is not going to necessarily going to get it ranked higher in Google’s organic listings, and Google is not necessarily looking to it as a quality signal. However, there are still clear benefits to the button for search visibility. Consider that many people are seeing Google’s “Search Plus Your World” results, which push social connections (frequently from Google+) into the search results, making the +1 button a much more significant factor. For that matter, Google tends to show less regular organic results on pages these days. The button can also, of course, spread content throughout Google+ itself. And there’s still no reason to think Google won’t adopt it as a more significant signal in the future.

Based on what Cutts said, however, authorship is practically a must for content providers. And even if your’e not seeing major benefits from that now, it sounds like we’re only in the beginning of how Google is going to use it. Of course, authorship is linked directly to your Google+ profile.

On a related note, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller has also been talking about authorship, and how the sites you’re linked to don’t necessarily have any effect on each other based on your connection to them. Barry Schwartz points to this Google Webmaster Help thread where he said, “No, there generally wouldn’t be a connection with regards to crawling, indexing, or ranking between two websites that are both linked from your Google Profile.”

So, in other words, if you have one site that was penalized by Google, it should have no direct negative effect on another site you’re connected to, just because you’re part of both sites.

Do you think Google is getting social search right? How could Google improve it? Let us know what you think in the comments.

  • http://www.pixelsparks.co.uk/ Salisbury web design

    In our experience having any rich snippets increases click through – whether reviews, authorship or whatever.

  • http://www.airportlimousineonline.com/hamilton_burlington_airport_limousine.aspx Hamilton airport limo

    Its sure there is no way to direct of rank of keywords as well as Google+ cant help to rank.

  • http://www.jnsconsultancy.co.uk JNS Consultancy

    What is it’s purpose then as a pure novice?

  • http://www.i-want-to-know-marketing.com Paul Profitt

    I hope what you are saying about Google authorship is true. Because it took me around 6 months for my profile picture to show up in their search results.

  • http://www.allaboutclothing.co.uk David P Atkinson

    Well placed links and good content gives you a good page rank, alllbeit being very slow.

  • Ridiculous

    Right now google cares more about adwords than authorship :) the goal is to get rid of sites who could potentially buy adwords instead of doing seo.
    Bing is gaining marketshares and that is no surprise, the google algorithm created by geniuses “PHDs” is giving the most stupid results ever, totally old news from 4-5 years ago, or even empty sites. I also use bing with my smartphone and i love it, it’s much faster than google and it ACTUALLY FINDS WHAT I AM LOOKING FOR ! I was looking for batteries and i found them half price via bing, ho wait you know that businesses have to pay to get listed on the google market place, wake up people, that increases the prices of the product you are looking for , try to look for indy stores on alternative search engines that will save you a LOT of money !

  • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk Dr Ian Smith

    I have been telling my clients this for some months so it is good to hear the confirmation from the horses mouth!!

  • http://www.consultancymarketing.co.uk Ian Smith

    “So, in other words, if you have one site that was penalized by Google, it should have no direct negative effect on another site you’re connected to, just because you’re part of both sites.”

    VERY interesting point!!!

  • http://incomefromhometips.org WAHM

    I find the comments Matt made about authorship very interesting. Google is all about INFORMATION– the buying and selling of it. If google can game all the SEO weenies into giving up more information about who owns which sites and how that all ties together with other sites they’ll gain more INFORMATION.

  • John

    So another lie by Google….When they came out with +1 they said it would count and we all follow suit like cattle only to be lied to again. They even have it in Webmaster that there is search impact…So WTF ?

  • http://www.thesearchagents.com Grant Simmons

    If there’s one thing about Google transparency, is that it’s very opaque. :-)

    Cutts isn’t saying +1’s are important, what he’s saying it that it’s not a direct factor, as many factors are not “direct”

    Google is a massive connections engine, leveraging massive data to understand relevance, authority, reputation etc. to hopefully provide the most relevant content against user (search) intent.

    Although +1’s may not be correlated directly to rankings, it does demonstrate a possible satisfaction of user (search) intent, which gives signals to Google (and users) that the content, author deserve a little more weight – “higher quality”

    There may not be anything “direct,” but with search visibility (result & rank) it’s all about fitting the pieces together based on the data you have…

    “…The foot bone connected to the leg bone,
    The leg bone connected to the knee bone,
    The knee bone connected to the thigh bone…”

    You get the idea.



  • http://www.sgrealist.com Ken

    Very interesting insights. I’ve always thought that since Google + is a direct product of google, it’ll be taken into consideration in the effects of SEO….

    Very informative!

  • http://www.connectservices.biz Pat

    Matt is very careful with his words. He stated no “direct” effect. There are other effects. Look at your Google Webmaster Tools they have listed how many +1’s you have. At one point in Google webmaster tools stated that I didn’t have enough +’s on one of my domain names.
    Just remember look at this from Google’s perspective, they lost revenue from social websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and several others. They will continue to punish SEO companies because there is so many and it “directly” affects them.

  • http://www.manilacomputerservices.com US Website

    Authorship means new and fresh content?

  • http://www.manilavenetianhotel.com Manila Hotel

    This is best way to get new content, it best for google and for us. search should not be getting the same results everytime.

    SEO industry will cease to exist if we permit that.

  • http://www.escortsindex.net/escorts.php Madrid

    So, I guess that if the +1 button has no big influence in ranking, neither should the Like button have. Could someone clarify this point?

  • http://www.socialmediabullies.com Social Media Bullies

    The Power of +1 comes into play on the #GooglePlacePages or now, #GoogleLocal.

    Each +1 button is like someone giving their “approval” of this particular place of business. It’s similar to #WOM (Word of Mouth), also known as referrals, in that it tells someone (your friend that’s connected to you through the Google profile) what you recommend, and what you don’t.

    The +1 button is super important because the your business will be affected by the social search relevancy aspect.

    For example, my friend “Jason” recommends Uncle Joe’s Italian Pizzeria because he had a “good experience.” The quality of the food was amazing, the cleanliness, the appearance, the restrooms and the menu offers value for the price paid, all-in-all, an excellent place to eat.

    So, Jason’s recommendation on the #GoogleLocal page (the +1 plus the testimonial in various categories across the board) shows up on my list of restaurants when I’m nearby. What do I mean? I’m half a block a way and I clicked on “restaurants in my area.” Guess what shows up? Yep! You guessed it. Jason’s recommendation to Uncle Joe’s Italian Pizzeria. Where do you think I’m going to eat? Yep. Absolutely.

    The power of +1 button is way more important than you give it credit for.

    This power directly affects rankings in search engines because of #SocialSearchRelevancy and the organic impact it will have in Google’s ranking systems.

    Want to stay ahead in Google’s everchanging methods? Stay ahead of your competitors. Contact us. We have DONE FOR YOU services that will not only put you on the map, but keep you ahead of the competition 7 to 1.

    Sharon Gadbois, #1 Bully of SocialMediaBullies.com

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment Inc.

    “…and you’ll actually see a picture of the author right there, and it turns out that if you see a picture of the author, sometimes you’ll have higher click through, and people will say, ‘oh, that looks like a trusted resource”

    Am I the only one that is disturbed by this potential ranking signal? If you Google+ your company and then people see the same picture on your webpage, then this signal could actually work in reverse by making your site look spammy.

    Personally, I’m not worried because if anyone sees my mug shot next to any website, though probably click off the page faster than you can say Jack rabbit!


    • Tommy

      Sadly it seems that all the high-ranking people (not pages) at Google are myopic and narrow-minded. Everything they do is a reflection of their misconception that the Internet is only about blogs, news sites, and social networking.

      My website is still ranking pretty good, but every time Google introduces a new ‘signal’ then I am sitting and thinking “when will this end up punishing my site”. I am running a small company with off-line services, so I have many other things to do than fellating Matt Cutts – such as focusing on quality of service and customer satisfaction. I focus on my customers even though I know that I am sending Google negative signals:

      My business idea and services do not change, so my pages are rarely modified extensively. I do not blog as that would be at the expense of face time with my clients and a blog would be irrelevant for them. I have a relatively low amount of links pointing to my site and no social networking presense, because my clients find me when I am needed and then they have no reason to follow me afterwards. Besides, most of my clients are typically over 50 years old, so very few of them are on Facebook and Google+.

      This authorship nonsense really takes the cake. As a company, everything on my pages are representing my company and not individuals. Why the hell would I use any information about the author of individual pages representing an entity? Google Love is important, but many of their ideas are idiotic and more or less impossible to follow unless one is a blogger or journalist.

      Google is a bunch of scumbags; unfortunately very powerful scumbags.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    I have mixed feelings about that:
    – I am sure that Google will push the importance of their +1
    – It may not be representative as it depends on the number of people having a G+ account visiting and “voting” for this site
    – I am sure that many +1 are fake, you can buy millions of them apparently 😉 I still see many “websites” with very poor content, high ranking and tons of +1
    – For these reasons I decided to delete the +1 button possibility on my pages: long to load and means quite nothing to me… for the moment!
    Cheers, Mike

  • http://escortgirlsvienna.com Roman

    It is still hard for me the grasp the concept of Google Plus 1 and the whole network. Facebook is much easier to understand so far. It is surpristing to me, though, that google understates the importance of it by saying there is no direct effect. I suppose the indirect effects will me so much more powerful then? Must be so because google won’t just hesitate to capitalise on their own network’s feedback. In any event, I predict a statement coming from google soon that will reveal the hows and whens about the G+ button and what effect it will have.

  • http://hill-brothers.com/ Carl

    Its information such as this which will influence whether google plus one buttons are included on my websites

  • http://theakurians.com Colonel Robert F. Cunningham

    The only thing we’ve experienced from Google in the past ten years is a total waste of time playing KAK scenarios that don’t work and don’t deliver anything at anytime for any reason. Analytics leading the parade.

    We pulled all Analytics html from all our pages and found a ZERO change in results. We were stonewalled from REMOVING our data from the Analytics access pages … but since no-results equals no-results as in no-results, the data remaining is of NO-importance.

  • http://www.javascriptsandmore.com Shawn Lippert

    I have had Authorship markup on my site since it came out and I have benefited from it but nothing compared to the results I get from social shares, I think as click-metrics start to have more of a impact via Social Signals we will really start to see better rankings for our content.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    I am amazed how fast Bing seems to be growing and how many searchers are ditching Google search. Is this because of the growing adword space taking over organic search?

  • http://www.blasho.com Ven Tesh

    i think not many people are actively using google+ when compared to fb,tw and hence it is useless if they consider +1’s for ranking. Authorship may only work out….

  • http://www.rajamudassar-business.blogspot.com mudassar

    its grat and informative thanks

  • http://tasneemsachee.com/ Tasneem Sachee

    Apparently you can buy fake +1’s. I’ve seen low quality sites with spun content using those – just not sure if they really work. I feel it’s always better to have REAL people +1 you, but wonder if Google can spot the bad apples from the good ones?

  • http://www.livingportugalproperty.com Ronnie Property Portugal

    I haven’t seen any improvement with my search engine position with Goggle +, however having an authors photo improves the visibility of my site on search (not ranking position).

  • http://hjoseo.se Tomas Ohlum

    I’ve seen some climbing in search results due to Google+-ing. But maybe its not so surprising – these effects have been observed on google.se for Swedish websites and blogs – The competition isn’t too stiff in Sweden then it comes to using the Google+ button.

  • http://www.impastatrice.org Impastarice

    It is difficult to get +1 votes since I have several small specialized websites and not a big website with many users.

  • http://www.NicheWolf.com Dori From NicheWolf.com

    G+ has no direct effect on ranking a site . I have a couple with no g+ likes that are ranking very high on the serps , I mean to say that my sites are ranking above sites that have thousands of G+ likes.

    Maybe in the future it will have some effects on Rankings but for now I don’t think it does.

  • Talha

    I have seen positive results from G+1 likes. While building some backlinks, I focused on +1 likes and slowly I got 1st page ranking but you should continue to get +1 otherwise your rankings will surely drop

  • http://charlesfudgemuffin.blogspot.com/ Charles Fudgemuffin

    My best ranking pages don’t have many G+1s so I don’t think it makes too much difference at the moment. I’d say Google have probably made the right decision to study things for a while before giving search weight to a site with lots of G+1s.