Google Plus Response From Matt Cutts

The Cyrus Shepard Google Plus post that sparked a wild fire of strong opinions across the SEO world yesterday even trigged a Matt Cutts response . The thesis of the post was that Google Plus +1’s and shares had the ability to alter rankings for search results depending on the popularity of post/page on Google Plus.

Matt Cutts provided a response and that in turn sparked even more debate on what was actually discussed by Matt and if it helped dispel the rumor that these findings were in fact true.

Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings. Let’s start with correlation != causation:
But it would probably be better to point to this 2011 post (also from SEOMoz/Moz) from two years ago in which a similar claim was made about Facebook shares:… . From that blog post from two years ago: “One of the most interesting findings from our 2011 Ranking Factors analysis was the high correlation between Facebook shares and Google US search position.”

This all came to a head at the SMX Advanced search conference in 2011 where Rand Fishkin presented his claims. I did a polite debunk of the idea that Google used Facebook shares in our web ranking at the conference, leading to this section in the 2011 blog post: “Rand pointed out that Google does have some access to Facebook data overall and set up a small-scale test to determine if Google would index content that was solely shared on Facebook. To date, that page has not been indexed, despite having quite a few shares (64 according to the OpenGraph).” 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.

I do agree with what Cutts says on the use of using a +1. He doesn’t however speak to the sharing aspect of Google Plus, or even a single post aspect. Cyrus Shepard calls that too attention and we’ve yet to see anything substantial from Cutts.

Cyrus here (the author)
Thanks Matt, I think we both agree that Google doesn’t use +1’s directly in your algorithm. But are you implying there are no SEO benefits to posting popular content on Google+? Google does use PageRank and anchor text, 2 things present in Google+ posts that aren’t passed as easily in Facebook and Twitter. It seems to me that a popular post on Google+, shared and linked to by well known authorities, is just like earning a high authority editorial link – and this is a bit different than most other social media platforms.

Now, if you tell me you treat Google+ differently in a way that blocks link juice, blocks anchor text and doesn’t pass link equity, then I think I would have to rethink my thesis. Regardless, I think we’re both on the same page here. The goal is not to accumulate a massive amounts of +1’s (and I’ll amend my post to make that clear) but to share high quality content on Google+ and build your influence through this channel, and this can lead to real world success. My argument is that Google+ as a platform passes actual SEO value, and I don’t think this is a bad thing or something that needs to be debunked. Feel free to disagree if I’m way off base here.

This is the comment I’m most interested in hearing a rebuttal for. I believe that shares or real posts from Google Plus do alter the rankings and are considered a strong signal in the ranking aspect while Google +1’s have the ability to get your site indexed crawled faster if a new page created.

Either way, it’s going to be a fun few days until this fleshes out or Cutts doesn’t provide us any more insight and we’re all left to assume that sharing helps and +1’s get things indexed.

Matt Cutts Rebuttal