Does Google+ influence search rankings to any noticeable degree? It’s one of the most hotly debated issues in all of search engine optimization and digital marketing right now. A lot of people, experts included, are claiming that not only does Google+ have an affect on rankings, it is one of the most important ranking factors going. Other people, also experts included, are saying that it makes no appreciable difference. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Let’s take a look at the newest opinion to hit the scene, one that carries a lot of weight.
Did you read the title? It’s Google’s own resident SEO ambassador and mouthpiece, Matt Cutts. He has come out to say that there is absolutely no relation between Google +1s and search rankings. Now, anecdotal evidence points to him being wrong, but anecdotal evidence is just that: anecdotal. According to Matt Cutts, “correlation != causation.” In case you aren’t code literate, != means “not equal to.”
It’s not just Google+ either. According to Cutts, Facebook likes also do nothing for your ranking. What actually influences rankings, according to Cutts, is compelling content. Getting a lot of likes and +1s is just a symptom. When you make great content, Google loves it, and so do people, so they share it around. Here’s how Matt sums it up:
“If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking. Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.”
Is Matt telling the truth here? That’s the real question. A common theory is that Matt Cutts works for Google, and job is to preserve the secret sauce, giving away just enough info to help without ever actually showing Google’s hand. That may be what’s happening here. We’d say that focusing on creating great content is a good primary objective, but paying attention to the social side at least a little never hurt anyone.