Google just launched their +1 button, and we already have some research on the effects that the Google +1 button has on search engine rankings. SEO Effect just released a white paper on their experiments with the Google +1 button to learn how it works and what benefit it has.
Before we get into the results, I should stress that the SEO Effect research was not terribly scientific, and it was testing the Google +1 button when it was still in the Google experiment phase, not after it went live. Many of their results are measured from someone logged into a Google account that has already clicked on the +1, though they did track average ranking positions independent of a biased account via Google Webmaster Tools.
Google +1 Button Research Findings
Here are some of the key findings that SEO Effect reported in their white paper:
- They saw a 20% increase in keyword rankings after getting around 60 people to click the +1 buttons on three of their pages.
- If a user clicks a +1 button, that page is far more likely to rank much higher in future search results that user makes.
- Clicks from people in your Google social circle (gmail, sites you follow with your Google reader, etc) definitely have a significant impact in rankings for other people in those social circles.
- Google +1 click benefit does not pass through a 301 redirect. So if you have a page with lots of +1s and you change and redirect to a new URL, you’re starting over from zero.
The big thing that this research does not tell us is how clicks on the Google +1 button can affect your rankings for people who are outside of your social circles — something that Google has indicated may happen for large enough numbers of +1s.
I think one of the most interesting results of this research is that way that +1 affects your personal searches in the future. If you can convince users to click the +1 button (which is a bit of a challenge, since unlike the Facebook button users don’t really feel like they’re doing anything by clicking the +1 button) then you are far more likely to re-capture that user in the future. This may be one of the largest benefits of the +1 button for websites.