• Joe Bergess

    Excellent study regarding Google+ shares – I would however, suggest that the title of the article be tweaked, as this isn’t a study about whether Google+ affects ranking; rather, it’s a study as to whether Google+ *shares* affects ranking. Another question – wouldn’t the structure of the articles written (keywords, meta data, etc) also have an impact in the ranking? Are the articles similar or identical in keywords and meta data? It’s so hard to complete these types of studies because of the variables. Very insightful article – thanks for sharing!

  • Joe Bergess

    Excellent study regarding Google+ shares – I would however, suggest that the title of the article be tweaked, as this isn’t a study about whether Google+ affects ranking; rather, it’s a study as to whether Google+ *shares* affects ranking. Another question – wouldn’t the structure of the articles written (keywords, meta data, etc) also have an impact in the ranking? Are the articles similar or identical in keywords and meta data? It’s so hard to complete these types of studies because of the variables. Very insightful article – thanks for sharing!

  • Matt O’Toole

    It’s always interesting to see theories put forward, dismissed, debunked, un-bunked, mythologised…

    I’d be interested to understand a bit more as to how you tracked the ranking data, though. I’m guessing you were working with “vanilla results”.

    The reason I ask is that Distilled presented data last year suggesting that the way +1s increase rankings is really very much in the event of a very personalised search – they gave the example of someone +1ing a brand’s Google+ page and that directly (positively) affecting the search results of friends of the original user when they subsequently used a relevant keyword.

  • Matt O’Toole

    It’s always interesting to see theories put forward, dismissed, debunked, un-bunked, mythologised…

    I’d be interested to understand a bit more as to how you tracked the ranking data, though. I’m guessing you were working with “vanilla results”.

    The reason I ask is that Distilled presented data last year suggesting that the way +1s increase rankings is really very much in the event of a very personalised search – they gave the example of someone +1ing a brand’s Google+ page and that directly (positively) affecting the search results of friends of the original user when they subsequently used a relevant keyword.

  • daveintheuk

    Shame really, because at least if it did have an effect on ranking it’d be worth using and have some kind of reason to exist…

  • http://www.koozai.com/author/ali-moghadam/ Ali Moghadam

    I think you’re onto something there Matt. Personalisation, +1s, Your Google+ network – it’s all got to be intertwined. I think Google’s looking for a more ‘human approved’ algorithm, weaving in Google+ as a form of user supported recommendation. We’ve already got things like the Disavow Tool, inviting webmasters to provide lists of human checked bad links. Human curators will shape future updates I reckon, there’s only so much they can do before they crack AI!

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Creating visibility is more important than any individual ranking factor.

  • http://www.mazemedia.co.uk/ David Wilson

    There clearly are specific circumstances where Google+ clearly does impact rankings, particularly, as set out above, where people in your circles (or extended circles) have interacted with a piece of content.

    And if you’re a brand, you effectively get to pick which piece of fresh or deep content you want to rank alongside your homepage, because of the latest G+ post showing up in the sidebar.

    So I think to say it has *no* reason to exist is going a bit far, and it certainly is worth using for many sites, particularly those that are recognised brands.

  • http://www.mazemedia.co.uk/ David Wilson

    There clearly are specific circumstances where Google+ clearly does impact rankings, particularly, as set out above, where people in your circles (or extended circles) have interacted with a piece of content.

    And if you’re a brand, you effectively get to pick which piece of fresh or deep content you want to rank alongside your homepage, because of the latest G+ post showing up in the sidebar.

    So I think to say it has *no* reason to exist is going a bit far, and it certainly is worth using for many sites, particularly those that are recognised brands.

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com incrediblehelp

    Well we all know you can write the best content in the world on your site, but if it is not shared, linked to or discovered at all then it wont rank. That is correlation to me to cause it to rank.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    Great stuff, Eric. It is hard to generalize about any finding as it may have more weight in some contexts than others. I also have questions about whether rank checks mean anything given the degree of localization/personalization. All that said, this is a very cool study. Thanks for sharing.

  • Eric Enge

    Hi Joe – you are right in that it is more about Google+ Shares, and in addition, it is about Google+ shares in a vaccuum – without other signals.

    The articles were posted on 3 different sites, and were topically relevant to each site, so not related to each other.

  • Eric Enge

    Matt – totally agree that personalized search still applies. Google+ will definitely impact that. We were trying to measure the impact on “non-personalized” search in this study.

  • Eric Enge

    Michael M – completely agree!

  • Eric Enge

    David – totally agree that it has a reason to exist, and I do say that above, and in my extended article on the stonetemple.com web site. The conclusion is not that there is no impact, but that it is not the same impact as traditional web links, AND the benefits of personalized results still applies!

  • Eric Enge

    you are welcome, glad you liked it!

  • AdmiralLuke

    I think Google +1 has an indirect effect on ranking just not direct. Matt Cuttz chose his words carefully when he recently said it doesn’t have a ‘direct’ effect rather than saying it doesn’t have an effect at all. For him use those words, there’d have to be a logical reason why he didn’t simply say it has no effect period. It can easily be one of the multiple factors that play a role in contributing towards a natural link profile which has a direct effect on ranking, and Matt Cuttz alluded to this in the past when he said a site or page that gets bookmarked or shared is more likely to get natural backlinks. If a website has a lot of backlinks pointing towards it but no social media votes, it raises a red flag regarding the nature of the backlinks. Especially when it’s a lot easier to for random visitors to give a social media vote(Facebook like, Google +1, Tweet etc…) than it is for them to backlink to a site because they naturally like it. Not everyone owns a website to have the option of giving backlinks. But a lot more people exist who have social media accounts and can give votes.

  • http://bibianowenceslao.com/ Bibiano Wenceslao

    I agree: the title needs to be changed because it’s actually the number of G+ shares the study is focused on and not Google+ generally as a social media platform.

    Great article nevertheless, Eric. Thanks for writing this for the community.

  • Igal Stolpner

    First of all thanks for the study!
    Besides the fact that personalized search still applies with Google+, I honestly think that the results for non-personalized search might just change in the future.

    From my personal studies I got the same results but we still do care about Google+ both because of the personalized results (and they are extremely important these days) and as a long term investment.

  • L. van Eembergen

    Great article Eric, really great setup of your study. You are saying in your analysis summary; Google + drives no ranking.

    But I’m wondering, if the Baseline page were declining because the starting boost every page receives due to all factors was wearing off and the Testpages were gaining ‘authority’ due to receiving Google + shares instead of also declining.
    Looking forward to your discussion in the hangout.

  • http://www.addthree.com/ Miles Rossow

    Dave’s point is that there is no visibility on G+ because nobody uses it. I use the term “nobody” loosely.

  • Michael Cottam

    Great job on this, Eric! FYI I shared it on Google+, but….don’t expect that to help this article to rank :-p

  • Marc_Razia

    I will never understand this over used cliche about no one using G+. Its obviously not in Facebook’s league by any measure, but when I am on there I see plenty of communities with well over 100,000 members. There are also hundreds of celebrities each with well over a million people following them. I’m able to find new public posts daily on just about any topic. If fact anyone could verify these things if they bothered to actually look.

    That’s surely not everybody, not even close, but its definitely not “nobody”.

  • Eric Enge

    Marc – you are absolutely correct. G+ is a very active social network, across many different spaces.

  • Eric Enge

    AdmiralLuke – while we can’t confirm your speculation above, I think there is a good chance that you are correct!

  • http://www.dbsit.com.au/ Danny

    amazing analysis and study reports related to Google Plus and personalized search. :-)

  • Patrick Minard

    I agree with the whole concept that social metrics should influence where a page belongs in relation to another within search engine rankings. What frustrates me is that Google are trying to artificially create a social network by forcing people to share on via Google+. I would like to think that any shares via Facebook / Twitter would carry the same social weighting into the ranking value but I somewhat feel that more shares via Google’s own service will have a better effect.

  • eye9 Design

    I am with AdmiralLuke on this one. I think it is fairly naive to think that the king of search doesn’t use their own Social Networking environment to affect results. Google +1 has plenty of users and you can certainly see how Google could, and in my opinion does, use their own social media network to find out what sites are worthy of higher rankings. Furthermore, I suspect they will turn up the “value” of Google +1 in the future as they learn more about how it is used relative to search results.

  • http://www.carsmaniacs.com/ Silviu Fera

    yeah right and the Moon is not round..

  • Tom

    Interesting comment Admiral Luke and I think you’re right. I’ve had sites/posts naturally get to the top of search rankings without any backlinking and I suspect that it was mainly through Stumbleupon likes. If other social media is influencing SERPs I can’t believe that Google+ does nothing more than kickstart the indexing and I think it will only gain in importance.

  • Ray Parker

    I wish i could have bet on their findings. If google plus did influence rankings then it would be a clear cut anti trust violation