Google+ is the social network owned by Google itself. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google obtains information from Google+ in real-time. As soon as you complete a share in Google+, Google knows it has happened. This makes it seem far more likely that Google would use this data as a ranking factor in its search results. In fact, there are a few clear ways that Google+ impacts the Google search results.
Does Google Use Google+ as a Ranking Signal?
Personalization plays a significant role in Google’s search results, and Google+ can be a part of that. For example, if someone is following you on Google+, the chances that she will see your posts in Google’s search results go way up. shows an example of this.
he highlighted listing ranks #1 in the organic search results when the searcher is logged in, but ranks only in position #12 when the same user performs an incognito search (in Google’s Chrome browser, this mode turns all personalization off). This is a big impact! The reason for the change in the personalized results is that four people whom this user follows on Google+ have +1’ed the content.
This is already a very big deal. If you can build a strong audience of your own, or if major influencers in your market space +1 or share your content, you can get a lot of exposure to your target market. In addition, it appears that people you exchange Gmail with can also create the type of connection that leads to the personalization of results.
Google+ Posts in the Search Results
This post came up even though the search was performed in incognito mode, so all personalization of the results is turned off.
Google+ Brand Pages in the Search Results
Another benefit of Google+ is that your company (or institution) can create a brand page. If you properly connect that brand page with your website using the reel=”pub lasher” tag (which is covered in more detail in Chapter 6), and you have some basic level of activity on the page, it can show up in the search results as well. This is particularly likely to happen on a search for your own brand name, as shown in the search for Major League Soccer.
Google+ Impact on No personalized Rankings of Content
The next step was to conduct some Google+ shares to those web pages so that Google would discover the pages. These shares were done on July 19, 2013, and by July 29, 2013, all of the pages in the test had been indexed. At that point, rankings for very long-tail search terms were monitored until the end of the test.
How Might Google Use Google+ as a Ranking Factor?
Google will work hard to develop algorithms that extract clear signals of value from Google+. How might it do that? We’ll illustrate with an example. Consider the following three people, bearing in mind that this example is pure speculation: Person 1 This person is active on Google+ and he shares lots of content—his own, and content shared by others. In addition, he always adds thoughtful commentary in his shares and comments on a lot of other people’s posts as well. The content he posts gets lots of +1s, reshapes, and comments, and his comments on other people’s posts often draw a reaction too. Many of the people he interacts with frequently also get tons of interaction with their activity in Google+.
Like Person 1, this person is active on Google+ and shares lots of content—her own, and content shared by others. However, she doesn’t often add much content and she doesn’t get the same level of interaction from others as Person 1. The interaction she gets tends to be more perfunctory in nature.