Experiment: Do Google +1s Impact Your Rankings? | White.net

Experiment: Do Google +1s Impact Your Rankings?

By Marcus Taylor / August 22, 2011

Several months ago I ran some tests on the impact of Facebook Likes on Google Rankings. After receiving several e-mails and tweets asking whether Google +1s have any impact on rankings, I decided to run some similar experiments in order to give a more conclusive answer.

Note:  on September 19th I’m going to be presenting a few insights on social SEO at Social Media Marketing and Monitoring 2011 London. If you’re interested in learning more about Google +1s and how to harness the benefits of social signals, come and visit! I’ve included discount codes and links to the conference tickets at the bottom of this post.

I began my Google +1 experiment by taking 35 URLs across six unique domains with various traits:  a mixture of indexed/unindexed, had links/no links, home pages/deep pages, had social signals/no social signals etc. All of these domains had experienced no significant changes in rankings for a while, i.e. the main keywords that I was tracking had not moved for a fair amount of time and there was very little other activity being done on them.

I then requested some +1s from a variety of different groups of people and monitored the log files, rankings, Google Analytics, and Webmaster Tools’ Google +1 section to spot any interesting trends.

Type of page Indexed? # of +1s # of links (internal / external) Ranking observation
URL 1 Deep Page No 20 0 / 0 No change
URL 2 Home Page Yes 26 12 / 1,136 No change
URL 3 Deep Page Yes 20 595 / 0 Ranking increased
URL 4 Home Page Yes 26 0 / 3 Ranking increased
URL 5 Deep Page Yes 28 307 / 30 Ranking increased
URL 6 Deep Pages Yes 30 over 30 pages N/A Rankings increased

Although it has only been one week since starting the test, and the sample size (35 URLs across six domains) is not at all statistically significant enough to make any rash conclusions, my general observation is that +1s from genuine Google+ users do improve rankings. However, in the case of URL 1, which was the only URL that was not indexed, the +1s had no impact on getting it indexed.
The scale of some of the ranking increases was also very varied:  one of the URLs increased the ranking for a targeted keyword from 75 up to 27 in Google UK. Another Keyword increased from 42 to 18, and another increased from 8 to 6.

Google+1s Impact on Traffic
Here is a Google Analytics screenshot for URL 6 (the domain where +1s were spread across 30 URLs). As you can see, after relatively stable traffic there does appear to be a slight overall increase in traffic – although it’s hard to say whether this is was caused by the +1s or if it is just correlation. Either way, it hasn’t smashed the site’s traffic, but it is a noticeable increase (from ~185 visits a day to ~225).

If you want to learn more about this experiment and how to harness the power of social & personalised search, I am going to be speaking at Social Media Marketing & Monitoring 2011 London on September 19th. Tickets are available now and you can get a 10% discount by using the following discount code: SPKR10.

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