Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings. Let's start with correlation != causation: http://xkcd.com/552/
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.
> Thanks Matt, I think we both agree that Google doesn't use +1's directly in your algorithm.
> 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.
Perhaps I have missed something here, however does this mean that a Google+ post that has zero +1s will pass the same amount of link juice as one that has fifty +1s? I guess this would be dependent upon the author that posted it, so let's assume these two posts are both by you, Cyrus Shepard.
As far as I'm aware nearly all social networks require you to join them before people can 'follow' you on them. So I don't see how what you said contradicts my point : if you don't make a G+ account you are going to lose out in organic search ranking.
> 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"
Pointing out that Facebook likes don't increasing rankings doesn't debunk Google +1s. Obviously you know if they do or do not affect rankings. I'm not sure you would tell us if they actually were used as a signal in rankings because that would lead SEO's to focus on +1's in a way similar to what happened with pagerank. It could also lead to +1 spamming/exploiting.
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?
I may be misunderstanding the basics, but the article implies that putting a post onto plus gives you a "perfect" page for SEO. Which means that any links to it will raise it's score more than any other page hosted anywhere else.
(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)
Agreed - perhaps he could have used more explicit language but, as you rightly said, I think he had answered that question already. I know he's public enemy #1 amongst some SEOs but people should stop being so rude to the guy!
I don't know if your comment is directed at me, but I don't feel I was rude to him at all. I do see a lot of hate for Cutts from SEOs, but they hate Google anyway. Cutts is just a face to Google that they can focus on.
But that is not saying the same thing. Your interpretation of it is "Yes. I am saying that +1s make no difference in Google rankings." but that is not what cutts said. His answer leaves it up to your interpretation. He could be saying "people who say +1s have an effect have no way of knowing that for sure" because we don't have access to their algorithms.
Which is why all of those points were addressed in the article! In fact, that's why the article didn't make the claim that Google is doing anything unusual in handling G+ links and shares - just that G+ is laid out in a way that makes it more relevant to existing SEO techniques.
Of course, for personalized results, Google+ activity can have a huge impact on rankings. At times, it can trump any other factor. For personalized results. Important caveat, but then again, we're probably at the point where more people see personalized results than don't.
I agree. Mechanistically, I'd speculate that +1's follow and reinforce pre-existing web rankings. It seems very probable to me that people are most likely to +1 the pages that are found first in web searches (i.e. those that have high rank).
What about the claim that G+ links pass value? Clearly they're no-followed, but has Google prevented them in passing value in some other way (algorithmically, perhaps?), as is widely believed to be the case for affiliate links?
My experience has been that making better content is great for getting more readers, but not for SEO, which in the long term is fine because it removes the risk of having to chase algorithm changes.
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.
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.
Just a thought:
When publishing correlation articles, maybe responsible authors should set up some kind of verification system where the reader must demonstrate that they understand that correlation does not equal causation before they are even allowed to read the article.
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?"