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Matt Cutts: Google +1's have no ranking influence.

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Msg#: 4603706 posted 11:43 pm on Aug 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Commenting on the Moz Blog article: "Google +1's Correlation with Higher Search Rankings"

Matt Cutts:
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: [xkcd.com...]

Hacker News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6243451 [news.ycombinator.com]

What's your experience with +1's and social in helping sites to rank? How do you use them successfully? Thoughts?

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 1:24 am (utc) on Aug 21, 2013]
[edit reason] fixed link, added context [/edit]


Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Msg#: 4603706 posted 2:57 am on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

A study by Stone Temple Consulting, announced today, apparently confirms that Matt Cutts was telling the truth. ;)

Greg Jarboe of Search Engine Watch interviews Eric Enge of Stone Temple about the study, which Eric meticulously describes in this YouTube video...

Stone Temple Consulting Study Finds Google +1s Don't Cause Higher Ranking
YouTube - Sep 17, 2013 - trt 18:05
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfNbTzjvRGI [youtube.com]

From Eric's description, his was a very carefully done study... for me a model of the kind of care we should hope for. He introduces his remarks with comments about the difference between correlation and causation. He also notes that, in his study, not everything went completely as planned, and there are differing interpretations about the data.

As I interpret the glitches (which were some additional Google+ shares, not anticipated in the original plans)... if anything, they would have driven the data the other way, and they apparently didn't. There were also some controls built into the test, and they seem to confirm that the test wasn't distorted.

SEW's description, posted with the video, summarizes Eric's conclusions...

In terms of discovery, Enge says, "In my opinion, it is highly likely that Google Plus drove discovery of the content."

In terms of indexing, Enge found that Google Plus shares probably drive indexing, as well. However, of the six articles tested (three test pages and three baseline pages), all six articles initially appeared in the Google index 10 days later.

And in terms of ranking, Enge says, "We saw no evidence of Google+ shares driving ranking."

PS: Eric puts a finer point on it, I should add, and emphasizes that test involved non-personalized results, and that, in his opinion, the Google+ shares are not driving non-personalized ranking. He also emphasized that personalization is part of SEO, and should not be ignored.


WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Msg#: 4603706 posted 4:18 am on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great test and info -- Thanks for sharing!


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 4603706 posted 3:04 pm on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

But Mark Traphagen's most recent experiment suggests otherwise, and the discussion with Eric Enge on G+ is well worth a read.

Traphagen's post rose to a #2 spot for a Google Authorship query based primarily on social shares. The discussion explores whether his authorship standing is the ranking factor rather than shares, but I am feeling as though the jury is still out on this story. I hope Traphagen chimes in on this here.


Msg#: 4603706 posted 4:56 pm on Sep 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Jeff Sauer from Jeffalytics also studied the effects of sharing on Google+ (though with only one share, as far as I know) earlier this year, and found that Google+ seemed to have an effect on discovery and quick indexing, and also some effect on ranking as well.

For example, the site that was shared from his relevant and well-established Google+ account ranked highest, while others shared from less established G+ accounts climbed over the course of a few weeks. The site not shared from a G+ account remained low ranked.

Edit: Also, importantly to the post above mine, it found that authorship did not have an effect on ranking.

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