There has been plenty of speculation and research around this very question over the past couple of months. Creating somewhat of a debate around this hot topic, numerous sources have come to different conclusions based on their research findings.
The question is: Is there an impact on rankings from Google+ shares?
Let’s take a look at a couple of previous articles from quality sources:
On 20th August, Moz released a post stating that they had found an amazing correlation between Google +1’s and rankings. An interesting find from the Moz Data Science research showed that Google +1’s had a higher correlation with rankings.More so than Facebook, linking root domains and keyword usage.
The reason why there is a correlation:
1. Posts are crawled and indexed instantly
2. Google+ shares are follow links
3. Google+ is optimised for semantic relevance
This is only one theory, but makes a good argument.
On June 27th, Search Metrics released a post displaying the top 30 ranking factors based on the Spearman correlation (same as Moz). These results proved evident that Google+ had an enormous impact of rankings. This caused a slight buzz in the search atmosphere and people were quick to set up a Google+ accounts and add the sharing button to their website pages. Not only Google+, but Facebook and other social platforms were among the top factors.
This was an interesting discovery and SEOs were baffled to see that social media had more of an impact than the content optimsation and basic HTML elements within the website structure. Nic summarised this article with some basic points and finalised the key point that social media is a must for all businesses to help improve their online presence.
Matt Cutts: Google’s Head of Web Spam
On August 21st (1 day after Moz’s release), Matt Cutts commented that Google+ shares don’t lead to higher rankings. He mentioned that everyone has their own opinion of what SEO tactics work and don’t work. It’s uncommon that Google will comment on these studies, but Matt Cutts came to the debate to put this theory to rest.
He summarised by stating that you’re better off creating high quality content than chasing Google+ shares. If you create good content, the social shares should come naturally by people commenting, linking and sharing. But he reiterates that the more Google+ shares you have, it won’t have much of an affect your rankings.
Coming directly from Google that there is no correlation between rankings and Google+ shares, that’s basically our answer. This is only true to the extent that you trust the source (Google). But that’s not to say you shouldn’t still have an active Google+ account and sharing functionality on your website. It would only do more good than harm to your overall rankings and even increase the interaction with your customers.