Google+1s, SEO Ranking & Author Authority

What’s The Real Power Of +1?

In the last two days, controversy over the search engine ranking power of Google +1s has had the SEO world buzzing. What really is the importance of accumulating +1s for your content? How does it affect search rankings? Are +1s more powerful than Facebook likes or retweets?

Yesterday, Cyrus Shepard published an article at moz.com that claimed a direct link between Google +1s and higher search rankings. The article was based off of a year-long Moz SEO Study that shows Google +1s as a top ranking signal.

Google’s Matt Cutts was quick to rebut Shepard’s article, making the assertion that Google +1s do not have any direct impact on search rankings. Cutts implies that, at best, the relationship is correlative, but in no way causative.

Cutts instead focuses on the claim that authors who create great content will see the ranking benefits of simply creating that great content. +1s, shares, links & ranking just come with the territory. Authors & content creators who are chasing +1s solely for the purpose of higher rankings are wasting their time and sending spammy signals to Google.

It’s All About Authorship

Whether or not Google is directly rewarding content that attains high numbers of +1s, one thing is certain. Google is in the middle of a major shift towards directly rewarding the authors of valuable content.  To Google, there is no question that content written by these authoritative authors will attain large amounts of readership, shares and yes, Google +1s.

Google’s bottom line for authors is that great content comes first, social clout comes second, and rankings come third.

Google will continue to shoot down creators of marginal, spammy content who are in search of +1s, shares, etc. for the sole purpose of better rankings.

The major takeaway from all of this controversy is simple. Google+ is a medium for Google’s shift towards Author Authority as a major ranking factor, not a medium for them to dominate social ranking factors by making +1s more powerful than Facebook shares or retweets.

Authors who continue to create great content should have no problem ranking in Google moving forward. The most important thing, more important than the number of +1s an author can get, is that authors claim their authorship with Google & Google+ and begin building Author Authority.

What do you think about the power of Google+ and +1s? What about Author Authority and future of Google’s algorithm?

Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below or chat @verticalrail on Twitter!

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