But it would probably be better to point to this 2011 post (also from SEOMoz/Moz) from two years ago in which a similar claim was made about Facebook shares: http://moz.com/blog/does-google-use-facebook-shares-to-influ... . From that blog post from two years ago: "One of the most interesting findings from our 2011 Ranking Factors analysis was the high correlation between Facebook shares and Google US search position."
This all came to a head at the SMX Advanced search conference in 2011 where Rand Fishkin presented his claims. I did a polite debunk of the idea that Google used Facebook shares in our web ranking at the conference, leading to this section in the 2011 blog post: "Rand pointed out that Google does have some access to Facebook data overall and set up a small-scale test to determine if Google would index content that was solely shared on Facebook. To date, that page has not been indexed, despite having quite a few shares (64 according to the OpenGraph)."
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 of content, your time is much better spent making great content.
Thanks Matt, I think we both agree that Google doesn't use +1's directly in your algorithm. But are you implying there are no SEO benefits to posting popular content on Google+? Google does use PageRank and anchor text, 2 things present in Google+ posts that aren't passed as easily in Facebook and Twitter. It seems to me that a popular post on Google+, shared and linked to by well known authorities, is just like earning a high authority editorial link - and this is a bit different than most other social media platforms.
Now, if you tell me you treat Google+ differently in a way that blocks link juice, blocks anchor text and doesn't pass link equity, then I think I would have to rethink my thesis. Regardless, I think we're both on the same page here. The goal is not to accumulate a massive amounts of +1's (and I'll amend my post to make that clear) but to share high quality content on Google+ and build your influence through this channel, and this can lead to real world success.
My argument is that Google+ as a platform passes actual SEO value, and I don't think this is a bad thing or something that needs to be debunked. Feel free to disagree if I'm way off base here.
> Now, if you tell me you treat Google+ differently in a way that blocks link juice, blocks anchor text and doesn't pass link equity, then I think I would have to rethink my thesis.
> My argument is that Google+ as a platform passes actual SEO value, and I don't think this is a bad thing or something that needs to be debunked.
Huh? You first say it doesn't pass directly in the algorithm ("blocks link juice, anchor text, and equity"), but then argue that it does ("passes value")? What part of the argument am I missing here?
If you're arguing that overall exposure to content goes up because social media sharing, then I'd be inclined to agree. Overall exposure then translates to better SEO because links are being used more often outside of non-seo-algorithmic social media (for example in blogs), hence the correlation.
A Google+ post passes SEO benefits (through linking) independent of the number of +1s it has. So although Google doesn't use +1s directly, it does use the link signals found naturally in the Google+ post itself. Because these link signals are by design blocked by Facebook and Twitter, this makes Google+ a superior platform from an SEO perspective.
i.e. if you don't use Google+ you will lose out in rankings compared to sites that do.
So the SEO advice about "make good content people want to see" needs to be amended to "make good content but make sure you share it on the closed proprietary social network run by the search engine".
> Back in 2011, folks may remember the controversy that erupted when Moz found a similar correlation between higher rankings and Facebook activity. At the time, Google claimed they didn't use Facebook shares for ranking websites. Dr. Peters concluded that the relationship between Facebook activity and higher rankings was likely not directly related, but probably caused by overlapping factors such as links and high-quality content.
> Now in 2013, there's strong reason to suspect it's different with Google+, and that the relationship between +1s and higher rankings goes beyond correlation into the territory of actual causation.
While Facebook / twitter are lagging signals from google's access perspective, G+ is contemporaneous: "Posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately"
Not that I'm going to believe you anyway, but I just want to clear this up. Are you, Matt Cutts, saying that +1s make no difference in Google rankings?
Suffice it to say that I would be very skeptical of anyone who claimed that more +1s led to a higher search ranking in Google's web results.
(They fail to follow through with posts on G+ are naturally likely to get more +1s than likes, thus presumably debunking the whole correlation issue like you say. But anyway)
So my takeaway (which I am not sure if you are challenging) is that posts on plus.google did better than a presumably control sample on facebook - and the article incorrectly ascribes this to +1s. You seem to be saying, yes it did do better but its not because of +1s, its just better. But is it better content or is it better SEO-ness of the page.
Thats the part I would like to see these studies show - how they manage the control portion. How they control for quality of the content? Because if posting the same content on G+ and on a.n.other site gets you significantly more pagerank, then its really hard to argue not to do that.
(I quite accept the "its not +1's goddammit" argument)
I don't think he answered it. He basically avoided the question as expected. Not that I have anything against Cutts. There are probably things he can and cannot say or maybe he doesn't know.
That being said, he probably answered the question as well as he can or wants to. It's pointless to nitpick.
We can paraphrase that to: "Yes. I am saying that +1s make no difference in Google rankings."
The wonderful thing about the English language is that there are often many ways of saying the same thing.
I like this one better:
When I switched from writing to fill holes in search results to writing for specific communities (including g+ groups) my readership shot up, but the SEO part has stayed pretty flat. It's possible I have something set up incorrectly, or that what I'm writing isn't something people are searching for, I'm not really sure. I put some charts up here that show this-
Great content is often succinct and simple to comprehend.
SEO wants your content to be full of unnecessary keywords that match the search terms which conflicts with this.
>SEO wants your content to be full of unnecessary keywords that match the search terms which conflicts with this.
That's where it pays to have an awesome copywriter who can craft in those keywords, keep it succinct and unnoticeable to the reader yet let Google know what the post's about.
People are associating all the old SEO tactics to the new search. They're incompatible. SEO is more about quality content than ever - and that doesn't just mean writing something that makes sense and isn't stuffed with keywords.
SEOs who don't get this by now won't. Ever.
Otherwise, we end up with all these knuckleheads running around saying "Moz said that +1s are the key to high rankings and you have to have lots of them! Who wants to buy 10,000 plus ones from me?"
We created some compelling that got lots of natural coverage both on social networks and news sites and we seem to have been punished for it!
"Just trying to decide the POLITEST way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings."
....does that mean has thinking about getting nasty?
2. the correlation for facebook likes is 0.27. that's lower, but not by much.
3. its possible the causality runs the other direction: high quality results get more +1s
Your point #3 is critical: high quality things get more +1s (and tweets, and Facebook likes or comments or shares).
The .3 correlation with a large sample size means something is happening. I agree with what Matt is saying: that content that gets +1s also gets links and mentions and everything else that Google might use to calculate rankings.
So how much is 'weak' or not depends on the situation. If you have something that is influenced by multiple causes, then it is impossible to have any single high correlation. But any correlation, if statistically significant (i.e. highly unlikely to be caused by chance) can be important.
The question is, how much is an 'interesting' amount of the total variance, in the given situation.
(In the topic under discussion here, I have no idea.)
This brings up the interesting question of why other social media is used less for promotion of effective pages. More zombie / spammers / scammers / PR firms manipulating facebook likes than +1s? This seems extremely likely given the known "underground" like-market and incentives WRT FB.
The other possibility is a good piece of content earns links, has great user metrics for certain keywords, lives on a great site, etc. and ranks well. It then accumulates social shares on top of that, further confirming the quality of the content. Thus...you get a situation like #3. Social signals make sense for indexation, but beyond that, until you start to understand the importance of the author (cough, AuthorRank, cough) then you can't use them for much more then understanding what the "mob" is finding valuable at the moment. And it might be a very fleeting fascination on a subject that really doesn't deserve to hold a ranking.
1) I think most people suspected this, and it's not amazing.
2) Is this not an abuse of their monopoly position in search? In that, to obtain a better placement or even just retain existing placement, you would have to participate in Google+
So it makes sense from a technical perspective that Google can use only the limited information available to it in terms of social strength of an article.
I don't think there is a monopoly in search, look we have duckduckgo for instance.
Since it's their search and their google+ why aren't they allowed to use one as metrics for the other?
Not only does google have twice the market share of anyone else, they likely have more than twice the number of advertisers as well. This means they are making more money on each visitor. That's why Yahoo and Ask both had to outsource their ads to Google, even though they had large market shares. Blekko has cited this as a huge reason they are having trouble competing.
Creating a real search engine (not a meta-search like Duck Duck Go) from scratch is very expensive. Blekko started out with 700 servers. Until you get to a very high scale, the server costs are prohibitive.
I can't find the reference, but I remember reading here on HN that someone investigating a large drop in traffic to pages with #1 organic rankings traced it back to the profile photo that got added to pages with authorship attribution. There didn't seem to be a traffic drop on pages with #2 or #3 etc., so the author came to the conclusion that the profile thumbnail was causing their listing to be mistaken for an ad.
Anyone remember that article?
The short version is that the site was affected by Google's Penguin webspam algorithm. It had nothing whatsoever to do with authorship.
Here is the article you are referencing: http://www.jitbit.com/news/183-how-google-authorship-decreas...
Equating correlation with cause is one of the main problems I see in the modern SEO industry. Many SEOs are so obsessed with links, for example, that they have lost sight of the importance of building content, awareness, and products that real people will care about. I can't wait to see SEOs wasting their time spamming links on G+ and buying +1s after skimming this post.
> Posts are crawled and indexed almost immediately
I used to use RSS feeds for quick indexing. Well, I guess we all know how that turned out when G wanted more users for G+.
> Add Google authorship information to your online content
The technique for this really disgusted me the first time I read about it. The easy method is basically linkbaiting to G+, not to mention that no other provider of authorship info is supported. Why do we have microdata again?
> Make your content easy to share on Google+ with relevant social sharing buttons
Yes, no, thanks. More intel and links for G.
> Completely fill out your Google+ profile with relevant and engaging information
Yeah, because people should rather publish good content on G+ than their own sites.
> Make your posts public
Of course, you only get all the benefits if your stuff is public on G+ and generates more traffic for them.
All in all I have to say well done Google. Good for you anyway. And good for people who want to hire a social media.. err.. ninja. Not so good for people who want to publish their own content on their own sites or even other social sites.
A lot of easy "tech" work honestly consists of using google to find answers for people who refuse to use google for themselves. It never fails to amaze me. I was born knowing how to change the battery in a 2nd gen Prius keychain remote? LOL no I merely use a google search because you're too lazy to do it for yourself (or learned hopelessness where they're intentionally outsourcing the labor to me and I'm being the sucker)
I would imagine someone who's annual review consists of how well they've SEO'd their page will be enormously more interested in how well they're doing SEO than a kid writing an essay or a possible future customer, or really anyone else at all. Money is a powerful motivator.
I'm pretty sure you don't use Google+.
Compared to other social metric's (facebook, twitter, etc), it's empty.
And so if you compare two posts, one on facebook, one on plus.google, and they both have the same number of backlinks (likes/+1s) then the plus post will be better SEO friendly and so outrank.
The fact it out ranks so much suggests that something screwy is going on - either there is a lot of cash left on the table for SEO-friendly pages, or that something like being on the google root domain helps in ways that have not been corrected for.
I would doubt if Google is out and out cheating. But a lawsuit would force them to say how facebook could up its pages...
Edit: I know I'm not supposed to but really - why the down votes? I would be very surprised if Google is trying to kill the golden goose.
I don't get it... Are +1s not good enough of an indication that content is good? If Google is not looking at social signals how can they justify good from bad content? Natural links are just as easy to manipulate Google with as unnatural. Instead of anchoring an exact match we use a brand.
Without social it makes it way too easy to game the system which some of our competitors are doing and getting away with after penguin, panda, and all the other updates.
We've been finding companies that rank for "ABC" and all they do is build a bunch of blogs ("abc1.com""abc2.com""abcGreen.com""abcBlue.com" etc..) and keep building them on "free platforms" like wordpress/blogger/weebly and the other hundred sites.. Create a bunch of crap links for Google to index and rank. All google needs to see is a "natural link profile", some onsite SEO and viola.
Lately we've been finding some articles that suggest changing published dates of pages/posts to get them reindexed with freshness. Some are consistently gaming Google, and the ones of us who are creating good content and get some +1s (by sharing it in relevant communities otherwise how will it be found) are going to lose to cheaters. Perhaps it's not as easy to game specific SERPs nationally. However, locally its a piece of cake. Just try looking for a locksmith, the way it's set up now the cheaters are still on top.
My question to Matt Cutts is: if you were an internet marketer and you created good content that got a great amount of real interaction, and that awesome content you created is not getting any SERP love because of others who are cheating the system, what would you do? How long would you wait? and what if nothing changes after the next algorithm change?
I would imagine Facebook could file an anti-trust suit over this.
Does Facebook allow Google access to the signals it would need to weigh the relevant results?
Guys Need help:
We recently faced a situation where we replaced the Facebook like button with Share button from our internet marketing blog(company site/blog).
Still I personally feel ‘Like’ was getting more engagement than share button, what will you advice for me. Implementing both Like & Share button is a good idea? I believe since our site only deals with particular industry i.e. Internet Marketing, less people will be sharing the blogs. We feel Facebook share is much valuable than Like, but we are confused here.
Expecting google to say yes or no on SEO issues is like asking your girlfriends father how to get into her pants. Unlikely to happen.
G+ is a crucial tool for connecting all Google properties together and staying relevant in a mobile world.
Check out this post from Ed Dale.
Then tell me it's not good business sense to give us all a gentle nudge towards G+.
So Google uses its search monopoly in such a way as to incentivize site operators to advertise its social network (in the form of those buttons), which encourages growth of its social network — and as a separate issue, allows them to track people, be they Google users or not, across more of the Web.
No anti-trust issues here, move along... </sarcasm>
Or it can just be that the more +1's you get, the more links you get, which boosts the rankings. So it may just be an indirect correlation.
Also I don't see a correlation in my blogs between more retweets and more Google's +1s. It is most probable because my blogs don't have many visitors and didn't cross the charm, but I expect search engines like Google to leverage the long tail instead of smashing it.
There's some crossover between a very few platforms, e.g. posts which get a lot of InShares will also likely get Tweeted a lot. It's quite rare, though, in my experience.
Google is really unlikely to be blatantly and obviously fixing its rankings. That is the golden goose. everything goes away when that is shown to be true in public.
That, or simply: "the pages that have more +1s have them because they ranked and got more traffic. e.g. nobody's +1ing pages that they can't find."