Google +1 – Search Gets a Little More Social

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Google have released the first phase of +1 allowing users to +1 a search result they like. From Google’s post on this:

“Like social search, we use many signals to identify the most useful recommendations, including things like the people you are already connected to through Google (your chat buddies and contacts, for example). Soon we may also incorporate other signals, such as your connections on sites like Twitter, to ensure your recommendations are as relevant as possible”

Google are pulling the information from a number of sources including Google reader. I have to admit, I have never looked into how Google reader works in terms of following. I know there are people following my feed, but I have no interest in who they are and I have even less interest in following other people’s reader. When I look at my social circle via the Google dashboard to get an estimate of how big my circle is, I see:

But the more interesting part is Google will show you total +1’s for a page: “Or if you’re looking for a new pasta recipe, we’ll show you +1’s from your culinary genius college roommate. And even if none of your friends are baristas or caffeine addicts, we may still show you how many people across the web have +1’d your local coffee shop”. This is interesting and obviously poses the question, is this going to affect the rank of a page.

Google are already integrating twitter references into the search results:

but I rarely take much notice of them. But if you notice a result in a keyword space like “keyword review”, then a page that ranks on the first page with a number of +1’s, may garner a second look. It’s going to be extremely interesting to note if this will affect the CTR of the top 10 listings on Google organic. Lots of interesting data to be got from Google Webmaster Tools under Top Queries in terms of impressions to CTR of your listings.


Who knows what this means for SEO, it’s just another way of personalising the results, which has been happening for years. I can’t see Google opening this up as a ranking factor for the time being as it would be extremely gamable – Mechanical Turk would suddenly have 100’s of +1 campaigns to go along with the Facebook Likes and Twitter campaigns. One thing Google would have to do if they want to open this up to the masses and improve rankings based on it’s feedback, is access the authority of the person doing the +1 – for example, something like the way Peer Index ranks twitter users:

This has already been discussed when Google announced they were using Tweets + Likes as a ranking factor. Although from results I have seen, the authority of a tweeter is not currently  an influential factor, more great info on that from this SEOMoz post.

One thing is for sure, Google search is rapidly changing with the Vince update, May Day, and recent Google Panda/Farm update, thing’s are moving towards a more personalised experience.

For more great information on this check out SimplyZestys take on it or Primary Positions.

Update – Thanks to Cormac Moylan @CormacMoylan for pointing out an error in this post.

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.

  • Cheers for the link, I'll take that over a +1 any day of the week 🙂

    Very interested to see what people think of this on SEO. Defo spot on that if they opened this up to everybody the bejaysis would get gamed out of it from day one!

    Can't see it changing a whole lot over the next 3 months but longer term it could be a decent move.

    I think I like it. Not 100% sure but it's a move in the right direction

  • Great post Kieran. Super Read. I'd forgotten about “Vince”….

    Many of us buy things that our friends don't have – perhaps all the liking can be negative? Nah – it'll never happen – look the iphone. Everyone has one! Don't they?

  • searchbrat

    Hey Niall,

    My original post was wrong, I read the Google post incorrectly, I thought it was just your social circle +1 were being pulled from. Very interesting they are showing the total +1s for a page. I don't think they will use that data immediately, but the core point is, they have that data and I am sure will be looking to use it. The easiest way is to access the authority of the person interacting in these social vechiles via the Google profile. Maybe your Google profile will be a new type of PersonRank 😉

  • searchbrat

    Cheers David, I am going to be really interested in the CTR of organic listings and how they are influenced by +1s, as you say, it's the kind of herd mentality. We like to get what other people have. This could be a good things for companies with products that receive a lot of positive feedback but are stuck down the bottom of page 1, maybe the user will scan the page a lot more for the +1's.