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Google’s Matt Cutts: +1s don’t affect search ranking

It looks like Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts has threw the SEO crowd another curve-ball when he took to Hacker News to refute a recent Moz study, which claimed that there was a correlation between +1s and high search rankings.

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Cutts’ main bone of contention, it seems, is the fact that correlation does not equate to causation.

Just trying to decide the politest way to debunk the idea that more Google +1s lead to higher Google web rankings. Let’s start with correlation != causation.

As specialist search news site Search Engine Journal points out, Cutts dispelled a similar notion relating to Facebook likes back in 2011.

In this case, just as it was with the Facebook likes, Cutts says it’s all about the quality of the content, not the number of shares it gets. Naturally, high quality content that appears at the top of your search rankings gets a lot of shares across a lot of social networks, but that doesn’t mean you can climb to the top of the search pile by artificially pushing up the share numbers.

As Cutts puts it:

If you make compelling content, people will link to it, like it, share it on Facebook, +1 it, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Google is using those signals in our ranking. Rather than chasing +1s of content, your time is much better spent making great content.

That’s not to say that +1s have no bearing on search ranking. Google Plus passes PageRank and allows anchor text, two things that are definitely factors in Google’s search algorithm.

So if your content gets shared by someone with serious authority, it’s much more likely to climb up the search rankings. Here’s the thing though, people with that kind of authority are only likely to share your content if it’s worth sharing.

So for the love of search, stop trying to game the system, listen to Cutts and create quality content.