With Moz releasing its 2013 search engine ranking factors, there is inevitably a lot of talk around social metrics including the value of Google +1s. Despite studies showing correlation between search rankings and quantity of +1s, many SEOs believe that this is just correlation and not causation (it’s likely that valuable pages of high quality content that already rank well will receive a greater number of social shares).
However, as with all surveys like this, talk turns to the future. What can we expect from Google in the next year? What about in the next five years? Many believe that +1s will play a greater significance in search ranking factors. This could be concerning. Google’s objective is to provide the best possible answer to a user’s search query. If shares on Google+, a social network that has not seen the same adoption as other networks, can influence rankings in the future then would Google truly be providing the best options for users? Increasing the importance of +1s could be used as a way for Google to muscle in on the social market, and draw people away from Facebook and Twitter. But who would it be drawing? SEOs? Tech geeks? Online marketers? These people are often already on Google+ as they continue to analyse it for inbound marketing purposes.
I believe that social metrics will continue to be a part of Google’s algorithm and may in the future gain increased weighting but this will be reflective of already high quality content. If Google+ sees a large increase in natural adoption then, yes, I do believe its importance as an individual ranking factor will increase but as yet, I’m not sure how significant it will be.