Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

For Now, Twitter Shares Count More Than +1’s in Google Search Ranking

Here’s a funny thing about Google’s new +1 tool, which lets users vote up search results. At launch, Google is keeping recommendations from its new +1 voting tool out of its ranking algorithm, even though it does consider shares on services like Twitter as a signal in its core search results.

Plus-one-ing (or however you write that!) a link doesn’t make it appear higher in search results–yet. The search result shows up in the same order it would have, annotated with information about people who have +1’ed it.

After seeing lots of confusion about this, we followed up with a Google spokeswoman this morning to talk through exactly how this works.

Eventually, the plan is to consider +1 votes as one of many signals in Google rankings, she said. But right now, while +1 activity is just getting started, Google is excluding it from its ranking algorithm. In part that’s because early +1 users could warp search results before there’s enough data.

Update: This topic seems to be confusing even at Google. Google just clarified via email that +1’s from people in users’ social circles will be included as a signal in their personalized results, but not overall search rankings.

Currently, Google does use Twitter shares to help rank core search results. That was part of its big social search launch in February.

So for the moment, sharing a link on Twitter counts for more in the Google search algorithm than +1’ing it on Google.

Though Google may not re-rank yet based on +1, people who sign up to participate in the trial will start seeing +1’s from their friends and the rest of +1 testers immediately.

So as not to crowd the page, if a link has been +1’ed more times than it has been shared on Twitter, the +1’s will show up, the spokeswoman said. If there have been more Twitter shares than +1’s, those will show up.

Google does not yet count public Facebook “likes” as a social search signal, though it plans to, Director of Product Management Mike Cassidy told NetworkEffect earlier this month. At the time, Cassidy maintained that the omission of Facebook data wasn’t due to tension between Google and Facebook over personal data sharing. Rather, he said, it was a “technical issue” that would be resolved soon.