RESHARE:Google Plus +1's: What They Do and Don't Do
I just posted a lengthy comment on the post below by +Alicia Feliz
and thought it might be useful for some of my newer followers who wonder what, if anything, Google actually does
with +1 counts for G+ posts. Here are a couple of thoughts I shared, based on my careful observations and listening over the past 3 years:
A few thoughts:
1. I did not do any studies personally that show a relationship between +1's and search rankings. However, I had a lot to say at the time about studies from both +Searchmetrics
rics and +Moz
that did show a strong correlation between plusses and higher search rankings.
I agreed with +Cyrus Shepard
of Moz in his analysis of the Moz study that there was the correlation in now way proved that plusses cause
higher rankings. That they definitely do not was confirmed first by some very clear statements from Google's +Matt Cutts and later confirmed by careful testing by +Eric Enge
of +Stone Temple Consulting
Google views a plus as a very weak signal, at least in terms of the kinds of signals it would want to have influencing search results. As the post above points out, it is very difficult to determine why someone plussed something or what they mean by it. Matt shared at a conference I attended last year that for a while they experimented with allowing people to +1 individual organic search result right in the SERPs (I remember seeing that). They soon abandoned it because they found they couldn't make sense of why people plussed things. Matt said they even saw a significant number of people who regularly plussed everything on the first page!
So why do these studies consistently show high correlations between plusses and higher rankings? (Remember, correlation simply means two things occur together, but does not mean there is necessarily any connection between the two.) It's likely that sites who consistently earn a lot of plusses and likes and such are also sites that consistently earn lots of good links and other things that we know do
affect search rankings.
So are plusses and other social signals totally meaningless to search? Not at all. At Pubcon Las Vegas last year, Matt Cutts said that they aren't looking to social signals for short-term effect, but rather over the long term. I took that to mean that you shouldn't expect social signals to have much effect on an individual post. But over a long period, if a site or an individual is consistently getting lots of social attention, Google is going to see that as a reason to attribute more trust to that site or person, and that could result in higher rankings.
2. If you've left your +1 settings on default, you should use a bit more discrimination about what you plus, as since last July Google+ potentially turns any post you plus into any of the following:
1) A recommended post, that can show up in the streams of your Extended Circles (people who've circled you and the people who have circled those people) with "Mark Traphagen +1'ed this" above the post.
2) A recommended search result. People who have you in their Google network may see you named below a search result for content that you've plussed.
3) In an advertisement. Unless you opted out of the program, Google may show people who have you in their network that you plussed a brand or content by a brand when showing them an ad for that brand out on Google's Display Ad Network (Google run ads on other web sites).
Reshared text:Someone +1'd your post on Google+. What does it mean?
Most social networks provide users with a means of content appreciation.
You can like
a Facebook post, you can favorite
a tweet, and you can love
an image on both Instagram and Pinterest.
Google+ uses the +1 button
. Like the other networks, clicking the +1 button on a post can indicate that you appreciate the content. But, the +1 count is much more than that.+Dustin W. Stout
demonstrated through his social experiment last year that the +1 count outside of the Google+ network
reflected more than just the number of people you pressed the +1 button. The +1 count also increased when someone linked to the blog post within Google+ and when someone reshared the Google+ post. (You can read more about his experiment on social signals here: http://j.mp/1dN0lMm
.) +Ben Fisher
confirmed this and further observed that user comments also increased the +1 count. (You can see Ben's full article here: http://j.mp/1dN04Jj
.) The +1 count outside of Google+ is not just a tally of appreciation. It is actually a reflection of total engagement.So, what does a +1 communicate within the Google+ network?
I've been thinking about this lately because I was going over the way I personally use the +1 button. I realized that, while I'd like to think that everyone follows the same thought process I do, I know for a fact that they do not. While checking notifications like '[User] +1'd your post'
, I caught myself thinking:I know what I mean when I +1 a post, but what do they mean?
The +1 button is different than other social network appreciation buttons in that it's less explicit. Whether they're used exactly in that way or not, a Facebook like
implies that you 'liked' a post; a Twitter favorite
implies that you rank that tweet as among your 'favorites'; an Instagram love
implies that you 'love' that photo.
That's not even a word.+Ryan Hanley
described this ambiguity perfectly when he mentioned in a recent post that, for a very select group of people who consistently produce quality content, he sometimes +1's a post without reading it in it's entirety.
(See Ryan's post here: http://j.mp/JJetN7
). Some people who responded agreed with him. Some understood his perspective but noted that they didn't normally +1 posts that hadn't read. Some even thought that this particular practice hurt his credibility.
I thought I would find out from all of you. How do you use the +1 button? What do you mean when you press the +1 button?
These are my own +1 practices:→ I +1 posts that I've read and have found useful or helpful to me.
If I've +1'd your post, it means that I've read the whole thing. In this, Ryan and I differ, but for a very good reason: I circle fewer people than Ryan, and fewer people circle me. This makes a big difference in available reading and response time which means that Ryan probably can't
read every post he would like to.→ I sometimes +1 posts I disagree with
While I might not agree with an argument put forth, if it's well-formed and thought-provoking, that is still very useful to me.→ I'm more likely to +1 GIF or photo-only posts without comment
While I think this follows for most people, the reason why I +1 a GIF or photo post is generally obvious from the post itself and does not need further explanation.→ I don't feel the need to +1 posts I simply 'appreciate'
Because my personal focus on Google+ is conversation
, I'm less likely to +1 a post if I don't feel I have anything useful to add. I think this is where I differ from the majority of Google+ users. I don't really use the +1 button as a validation tool. I appreciate a lot of things on Google+, but I don't +1 them all. As over-the-top as it might seem, I prefer that my +1's carry a heavier meaning. If I +1 your post, you can safely assume that I've received your message, and I thought it was communicated well (unless otherwise noted in a comment).→ EXCEPTION: I +1 all comments on my posts as soon as read them
These +1 'rules' do not apply in the same way to people who leave comments on my posts. Because I want to acknowledge that I've seen your comment, I +1 all comments I read (unless it's obvious spam).
In the end, I think that the +1 is purposefully
more ambiguous than appreciation indicators on other social media networks. There's no one 'right way' or 'best practice,' but it's good to consider how we communicate. At least in my personal experience, the ambiguity of the +1 encourages me to engage in a more specific way (i.e. comments, reshares). This leads to better conversation which is what I love about Google+ in the first place.How do you use the +1 button?EDITED TO ADD: +Ben Fisher mentioned a great post by Gplus Expertise that's called '50 Things a +1 Could Mean' that complements this post well: http://j.mp/1cIMJ4R +#GooglePlus #engagement #socialmedia #communication