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Will Google +1 Make Google Search any Better?

September 17, 2011

Earlier this week I saw a statement that Google, as part of their push on Google+, are intending to give weight to the number of +1 clicks that a page has accumulated when deciding how to position it in search results. In other words, if your page is given a +1 by a lot of its readers Google will consider it to be good material.

Does this sound sensible? Yes, to some degree. There is, of course, a risk of +1 click spamming, but Google say they’ve got that sorted. However, because big companies with tens of thousands people reading their sites every day are often going to get more +1s than the little people, it runs the risk of filling the first page with even more big names regardless of the quality of their content.

I’m not really convinced of the quality of the Google algorithm as it is. Let’s take just two of my sites in very different niches from this one, and from one another. The first has been going for three years, is regularly updated with quality content (written by myself on the basis of extensive reading and research on a subject I’ve studied for thirty years), and even being self-critical is in my opinion better than all but three of its competitors. The other consists mainly of links to Amazon, has very little valuable content and has deliberately been neglected for the past two years, sitting on the low-priority list for renovation. Yet regardless of their difference in quality they have identical page rank and both do badly in search. The good one, however, gets steadily increasing traffic from social sources.

Consequence? I’ve learned not to write with Google in mind. I just write what I think people will enjoy and benefit from reading – and write plenty of it. I’m steadily moving toward the opinion that what Google likes is volume of content on a sufficiently large number of interlinked pages with keywords in the links. As for real quality, though, I’d be fascinated to know its definition; it certainly doesn’t coincide with mine.

After years of reading SEO guides, and putting much of the good advice into practice, I try religiously to make sure I’ve got some good meta-keywords, a meaningful title and a concise meta-description for each page or post, but quite honestly I still find the Google search logic completely baffling.

Having said all that I’m enjoying having yet another opportunity, by clicking a +1 button, to indicate my appreciation of a good page and am getting into the habit of doing this, but to be honest I’m not living in hope that this +1 change will make search results any better, for either webmasters or searchers.

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