Does Google+ affect SEO?

For the most part we all know Google has a new social networking service called  Google+ which allows you to share links, photos, updates and video chat with different groups of people. Google calls these groups “circles,” and you can create a circle for your family or your co-workers and share a link to only the people in a particular circle. Google+ has been compared to Facebook’s share feature and social metrics have been slowly influencing search engine algorithms. So the looming question is does the Google +1 function affect SEO rankings?

What we know is that the Google+1 button gives you a personalized search engine experience. The personalization allows you to search in Google and see results that are recommended by someone in your social circle either in Google+ or Twitter. You can connect your Twitter account with Google+, and if people you follow in Twitter have Google+ accounts their +1’s will show up in the results too.

Above is a Google search result for “SEO” when I’m signed into my google account. The third result is Seomoz shared by Rand Fishkin whom I follow on Google+ and Twitter. Below is the same search in Google but not signed into Google. The homepage for Seomoz doesn’t rank until the third page of the results (I’ll note that their interior pages ranked higher in the search).

Now the Google+1 had significantly improved the ranking here, but is Google+the only factor here resulting in the change? There’s speculation that Google uses something similar to Edgerank (which is what Facebook uses in their news feed). For example, Rand Fishkin is seen as having high influence in the topic of SEO, so the weight of his +1 share has more weight than if I were to share the same link. Nonetheless, as an SEO strategist, you don’t want to leave any opportunities behind to be ranked on the first page of a search result.

Overall, it’s too early to know for sure how Google+1’s will affect SEO in the long run. Right now the differences are rather subtle with a few surprises here and there. My advice isn’t to +1 your website along with a couple of friends then stop your SEO efforts, but to include it with your ongoing strategies such as creating great content, linkbuilding, and building a community around social media.

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