Do Google +1s Directly Impact Rankings?

September 3, 2013

Does Google Plus One Affect Rankings?

When Google launched their own social network complete with +1 button, social and search seemed to finally, and fully, be attached at the hip. But while Google Plus may have tied search and social together more than ever before, the folks at Google stand by their statement that “+1s” don’t affect rankings.

Many SEO companies and any of those savvy about organic search, however, have questioned how true that statement really is. More +1s and higher rankings go hand in hand, and there is an undeniable correlation between the two.

After conducting a study on ranking factors, found that aside from PageAuthority–which sits comfortably at the top of the list–a site’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with that site’s rankings than any other single factor.

So does this mean that more Google plus ones guarantees better rankings? No. And Google’s Matt Cutts has reiterated this point just recently. Cutts wants to make sure they’ve made one thing clear: correlation is not causation.

So what does this mean for you? Do they or don’t they affect rankings?

Causation or No: Why Google Plus Is Essential

Instead of asking wether Google +1s lead to better rankings or merely coincide with better rankings, it seems there’s something even more important to be thinking about. If they don’t cause better rankings, there’s still a lesson to be learned here, isn’t there?

Google +1s are essential. There’s no two ways bout it. With more Google Plus activity, a better Google profile, and more +1s, your site is going to be higher on the search results page. Whether or not +1 are the reason for a site’s great rankings, they will, at the very least, always be a sign of a site worth ranking. What we mean is: if a site has a large number of +1s, that sites is something that users have seen as valuable, worth promoting, worth sharing. If searchers think a site is worthwhile, than Google will too.

So instead of focusing on just getting as many +1s as possible, a better strategy for your SEO and for your marketing as a whole, is to work to create content that’s deserving of both +1s and top rankings. As Cutts advises, don’t just spend your time “chasing +1s,” put that effort into making content that will do that for you. Google +1s show that a webpage is substantial, has purpose, is relevant, is popular, is user-friendly and provides a positive, sharable experience–and that’s what drives rankings.


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