Research: Do Google +1s Impact Your Search Rankings?
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.
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.
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).