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Do Google +1’s Lead to Higher Search Rankings?

Google search results

Every business wants to be at the top of Google search results. So when Moz released findings from a recent study suggesting a strong correlation between Google +1’s  and higher search rankings, needless to say that caused quite a stir with online marketers, search engine optimizers, business owners, and…Google.

Jockeying for a few highly desirable spots means businesses are constantly on the lookout for a competitive edge that will help them be seen by Google and, most importantly, prospective customers. And that means constant speculation and an infinite number of theories as to how and why Google ranks websites.

Based on their findings, the Moz Ranking Factors study concluded there was a direct link between Google +1’s and higher search rankings “After Page Authority, a URL's number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor.” They went on to say Google +1’s “beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.”

Moz Google Plus Correlation Study

Hot damn, small business owners—did you hear that? Drop everything and focus all of your online marketing efforts on drumming up more Google +1’s. Before you know it, you’ll claim the top spot and in the search results and you can literally drive off into the sunset.

Not so fast. Shortly after the results were published, Google’s Matt Cutts quickly nipped them in the bud. In a response posted on Hacker News, Cutts debunked the idea that +1s are used directly in Google's algorithm.

So what gives? I’m guessing the answer lies somewhere in between.

With search, Google+, Google Places, Authorship, AdWords, and some of their other offerings, Google has created a massive and wickedly complex information ecosystem—all interconnected in some way or another using mind-numbingly sophisticated and constantly changing algorithms.

Assuming the Moz study and similar findings by Searchmetrics are both accurate, there definitely could be something there.  To how and what extent is something only Google ultimately knows. If +1’s do in fact impact search results, that’s definitely something they’d want to play close to the vest.

What’s does all this mean for small business owners?

Google isn’t going away. Whether it’s now or in the near future, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to want to establish a presence for your business using Google+. If you haven’t done so already, consider creating a listing for your business with Google Places, incorporating a Google +1 sharing button on your business blog posts, and posting share-worthy content via your Google+ page.

Above all just remember there are no magic bullets. When it comes to online marketing, you've got to have a solid strategy in place and have some patients. If claiming the top spot in Google search results was easy, every business would be doing it!

Questions about getting started with Google+?

Shoot me an .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


[Images: Flickr user MoneyBlogNewz and Moz]

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