Google + Rankings: Google Is Doing It To Themselves, Again

Aug 30, 2011 • 9:40 am | comments (29) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Plus One Button LogoWired came out with an article last night named Google Explores Re-Ranking Search Results Using +1 Button Data - it is nothing new, Google told us this from day one.

Google said in their FAQs and it still says the same thing:

Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1's from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1's, as with any new ranking signal, we are starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.

So technically, Wired is not telling us anything new outside of - this stuff is going into the main stream media and thus will become a huge spam target.

Well, it already has with tons of Google +1 brokers out there selling plus ones in the masses.

Heck, even Forbes posted an article on it and then pulled it.

What is sad is that this is going to lead to the same type of abuse Google PageRank lead to and link buying and anchor text and so on. It is just weird to me that Google is promoting it so much as a ranking factor.

I seriously wonder what Matt Cutts or people from his team have to say about this?

Yea, I am sure it is used as a ranking factor - Google says so. But I'd be very surprised if it had a weight above 0.00005% in the total algorithm. :)

What do you think about all of this?

Forum discussion at Google +.

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Ken Shafer

08/30/2011 01:48 pm

How do you buy +1's from my "friends and acquaintances?"

Niall Diamond

08/30/2011 01:49 pm

Sorry would love to comment but too busy Google+' ing all my clients sites ;-)


08/30/2011 02:17 pm

The same way people get reviews from "customers" would be my guess. :)

Nick Stamoulis

08/30/2011 02:29 pm

Anytime Google admits something is a ranking factor, the spammers practically fall over themselves to take advantage of it. Ever wonder if Google said the +1 button was a ranking factor so it would get us Internet marketing people pushing it on our clients? It's a pretty good way to get people using it.

Jill Whalen

08/30/2011 02:32 pm

I believe it's more like you'll see relevant stuff that people in your circles may have +1'd in your search results above some other stuff. Just like they've been doing with Twitter for quite some time.  It's really just more personalized search than a ranking thing. (IMO)

Ryan Jones

08/30/2011 03:11 pm

I think Google can get away with giving it a higher ranking factor. Unlike pagerank and links each plus requires a real account and those accounts have history - which make it easy to remove the spammers.  Here's a longer explanation:

Ken Shafer

08/30/2011 03:30 pm

I don't get it. In order for this to affect MY PERSONAL rankings, one of MY friends or contacts has to +1 something. If some firm +1's stuff over and over, it won't affect my all.

Tauseef Muhammad

08/30/2011 03:48 pm

Google Doesn't want webmaster to get paid links same time google rank sites on link basis.  Google penalize site for excessive paid link same time increase PR for the site. Google knows about +brokers but still wanna rank sites on basis of Google+. Very hard to understand.  Good Luck with that. 


08/30/2011 05:15 pm

If google has a real account check to make sure only one account per person, I believe the spammers and link farming methods will become obsolete?

Joe Youngblood

08/30/2011 06:18 pm

Google drove the 'need' to rank in their index by issuing page rank. It became currency gold to marketers (SEOs) I remember when online marketing went from selling banners and driving traffic from friends sites to using links. It created an entire industry that Google somewhat curates in order to keep that 'need' to rank in their index alive. It keeps them relevant in the minds of marketers and therefore relevant in the minds of consumers (everyone is a consumer). Driving that need, not better results is what brought me and likely larger volume of other users to Google from AltaVista / Northern Lights / Lycos etc... It's also the key ingredient that Bing / Blekko / DuckDuckGo / Yandex / Baidu etc.. are missing. They are trying to piggyback this now with the +1, if we need it then we'll use it. If marketers start putting plus one's everywhere consumers see them and it keeps big G relevant in a time when their relevance and usefulness is beginning to wane and bow to a collection of other sites (twitter, bing, facebook, linkedin, digg, reddit)

Joe Youngblood

08/30/2011 08:44 pm

social engineering hacks? very effective, every week i see a friend add a 'friend' on facebook (99% of time its a hot girl) and then that friend posts on her wall "do i know you? please tell me i do" she/he/it now has access to his friends email addresses and other data and know she/he/it can engage him in conversation tip toeing around the way they know each other for quite some time. if you dont think 'fake' people will infest google+ like they did yahoo! and aol chat, like they did myspace, like they did facebook then you are very mistaken. my personal bet is that there are already fake google+ profiles out there. ;) +1 likely will affect organic SERPs beyond logged in users just like location does now.


08/30/2011 08:56 pm

This is just the start of the companies which are selling +1. The price will be lower soon because a lot of companies will sell +1 :)

Mark Asciak

08/31/2011 12:40 am

Not at all, you can already purchase +1's via providers who use different accounts from different IP's...

Bruce Hearder

08/31/2011 08:42 am

Its so easy to get +1. Just go to Fiverr and you'll find plenty of people selling 100 plus 1's for $5 So yes it getting abused. Plus its so easy to write a simple jQuery script that forces people to +1 a site and they are not even aware they have +1 your site.  Lets see how long before BigG pulls the +1 from the ranking factors alltogether.


08/31/2011 11:33 am

Surely, the idea here is to find a 'new link' but one that they can more accurately assess the value. Currently, it is the linking site / page that is the factor and that does not allow for any undesirable ways links may be added to that page. With the +1 system they can assess the person giving the +1 from all the information they hold about that person and decide upon the value of the link.  Maybe they could view a persons topical relevance for a given +1 from their google plus relationships, email connections etc.  Equally, with the move towards more personalised results, maybe this 'ranking factor' is primarily for personalised results with things that your friends / connections are +1'ing.  Also, they could also possibly work within the categorisation of result types so for instance.  If a query is regarded as a leisure type search (video games for instance) then maybe +1's from your close friends circle would count. If the query is for information then maybe people in your circles who are relevant in that area could be factored in. I am waffling but the point I am trying to make is that maybe all of this is on purpose and that this allows them to have a new kind of link that they can assess the value of in a much more robust fashion.  I certainly can't see them doing something that will compromise results and there are certainly some big brains at Google HQ. So I would like to think the +1 system will be used to improve the quality and relevance of results and won't be so fragile that the inevitable +1 vendors can rock the boat.  I see a +1 spam account as easy to spot: - practically no followers - lots and lots of +1's applied - no content added to feeds - in practically no circles or only other useless accounts Maybe not, maybe they will make a bloody hash of it and I will be annoyed that my spammy competitor spent a bunch of cash of crappy +1's when I tried to be wholesome and righteous (and maybe a little bit pious) in my approach  ;) We will see. :)

Deepak Gupta

08/31/2011 11:54 am

Interesting article, seems Google is just trying to get into every niche possible. Scary how more and more of the internet is controlled by them every day


08/31/2011 03:50 pm

I feel many people waste time scheming rather than using free tools properly and with honesty.  Unbelievable the amount of wasted energy put into scams and scheming.

Joe Youngblood

08/31/2011 04:11 pm

To put this in perspective. There was a time when 90% of internet users had a website. We all heard about the potential and we all started our own site. Almost everything was free, domains, web space and even HTML lessons. I remember bartering on early forums for banner space. So when Google came out in ~2000 they entered a world dominated by the independent webmaster. Fast Forward 11 years and now the internet is dominated by venture backed web giants, large corporations and populated mostly with the common everyday consumer. You can't control these vast groups of people with links.... it doesnt work like that. Google's recent historic shift on their 'duplicate content' policy should be vehemently fought against. Instead of trying to bring the real world online Google is not trying to force the internet to only have 1 of everything. Remember iSyndicate? the service that pushed out news, stock quotes and more? It was a great service that was utilized by thousands of webmasters, but unfortunately didnt have a great revenue strategy (give free info then....?) They got bought by YellowBrix who then shut down the free services: Every newspapers, radio, tv station, etc.. uses syndicated content to augment their original content. It's difficult make a profit by doing everything 100% unique while paying writers and covering production costs. Instead these real world properties rely on localization, government intervention and having a better business model to succeed.  In Google's world there would only be 1 city newspaper, 1 city radio station and 1 city tv station.. PER NATION! If Google was sincerely interested in the users best interest they would have found a way to encourage content syndication.....  oh wait they did. YouTube, a google owned property,  syndicates music videos, tv shows and more. Content that appears on other websites such as Blip.TV, MTV, Vimeo, Veoh, etc... done with my /rant

Jill Whalen

08/31/2011 04:45 pm

You are exactly right. The other commenters who think +1's are going to effect the general search results of people not logged in, are quite mistaken.


08/31/2011 05:52 pm

This is scam to promote their retarded "social network." They told Forbes writers to add G+ or their rankings will tank!! FTC anyone? Google the evil and scummy empire is at it again.


08/31/2011 05:58 pm

"I seriously wonder what Matt Cutts or people from his team have to say about this?" Matt Cutts is a nobody. Search get orders to manipulate SERPs from above, like from Larry Page. The same person that paid $500 Million not to be charged with drug law violations. Google is unscrupulous and has no ethics, just unlimited greed.


09/01/2011 03:11 am

But i think it would not take long for google to launch new update to punish the google plus spammer.  Never try to treat big google, that's my number one rule. 

Namita Desh2011

09/01/2011 09:24 am

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09/01/2011 09:40 am

Yes its true.I have my blog here but not getting proper ranking although I rank high and getting good visitor.Wonder whats wrong with google algo

Tom Parker

09/01/2011 07:33 pm

I think your right Jill, in that I think the biggest part of the +1 will be about the personalized search results, but I could also see how G could use it for an overall ranking factor, and I think they will. Let's say there are two sites about 'blue widgets' and one site has 100 +1's and the other has 1000 +1's.  If  G's algo looks at all the individual plus ones, and rates them according to some measure of relativity and trust, etc, it could then determine which ones to count at all, and from the ones that do count, how much weight to give them. So in the above example just because one site has 900 more plus ones than the other, that doesn't necessarily mean it's ahead. The site with the 1000 could have 1000 worthless plus ones and the site with 100 could be totally 'legit'. Maybe?


09/02/2011 06:09 pm

Best Google+ facebook page:


09/06/2011 07:36 am

It's absolutely ridiculous the number of poor sites that I have seen with over 1000 +1's  - surely Google must be looking at this type of abuse as it is totally spammy and undermines quality content!?

Link building specialist

10/11/2011 08:33 pm

last week i was at a SEO conference Amsterdam, the netherlandsand one guy from Google ireland,  confirmed that the +1 was not a ranking factor yet, they are just measuring the data, but everyone knows as soon Google is measering data, a new ranking factor is born nearby

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05/11/2012 08:44 am

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