There has been much debate around whether or not Google places preference on Social Media Signals from it’s own Google+ over other social shares from the likes of Facebook or Twitter.

round Google Plus logo

At the New Generation Social Media conference in Johannesburg this week, we addressed this question to Luke McKend of Google South Africa who said:

“It’s not that we favor Google+, it’s just that we are unable to get data out of other social media sites such as Facebook. It is a commercial issue between Google and those social sites. If we can’t see the data, we can’t use it as part of the search rankings.”

At the latest SES Conference in August this year, Matt Cutts (the guy who heads up the Google Web Spam team) was asked the same question to which he responded:

“You will see less results with +1 now than in January 2012. I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on +1’s just yet.”

The opinion of the panel was that this statement was in contradiction to comments made earlier this year by Cutts where he said that Google+ shares form a web page were being weighted much higher than other social signals in their algorithm. When called out on this “contradiction” Cutts said:

“We are continuing to experiment. We want people to trust us. Don’t go overboard with +1 buttons on your site.”

Other experiments by SEO (Search Engine Optimisation experts) have in fact shown that by simply sharing an article through Google+ exclusively (in other words, no other links, likes or tweets etc) a page ranking 16th in the search results could quickly jump to position 6 in a very short space of time. But SEO’s warn that this is not a long-term strategy and is not sustainable as rankings will start to drop after about a week.

Click here for more information on how other Social Signals are (or aren’t) being used as part of the search rankings algorithm.

Let’s Test the +1 Theory:

Click on the +1 social sharing button below and I’ll keep an eye on the traffic and rankings and let you know the outcome.


26 October 2012 – Update on experiment (1 day after publishing this post):
So after 1 day Google has managed to index the page and the search query “”Does Google Favor Google + in Search Rankings?” now ranks first as a phrase match and 2nd (just after one of Google’s own pages) as a broad match even after I logged out of my Google Account and stripped personalisation from the results.

It also ranks first for the more generic “Does Google Favor Google + (and “Google Plus” as a variation) and “Does Google Favor Google” to test even a broader search term. It also ranked at the top for the broad search Does Google Favour Google + in Rankings out of over 37 million indexed pages.

Google + Ranking on first page Image
Not necessarily a conclusive experiment due to some skewed Likes and Tweets, but nonetheless, it did prove that the content was indexed fast and did rank on the first page.

Now let’s watch it for a week and see what happens. If our theory is correct, it should start to drop off the first page (provided there are not many quality links pointing to it).