Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Marcus Taylor, co-author of the book Get Noticed, and head of social media at SEOptimise.

Back in August, I ran several experiments to try and find out whether Google’s +1s had an impact on search engine rankings. The results suggested that in almost all cases Google +1s did have a positive impact on rankings. However, a lot has changed in the past four months, so I’d like to share where I think Google is going with the impact of Google+ on search rankings.

It’s clear that Google is going all out with Google+ and it’s no secret that it’s becoming the central hub of all their services – Google Search is beginning to integrate with Google+, as is Gmail, YouTube, Analytics, and AdWords. It’s only a matter of time before we see Google Maps, and Google’s other services beginning to integrate into the social network.

Results from my Google+ rankings experiment in August 2011

What’s interesting is how Google is starting to connect the dots between people and businesses with their related content, topics and online activity. Who you have in your circles will give Google an idea of how influential you are about various topics, which, as a content creator will allow them to position your content more accurately in search results.

Google recently made a big jump in connecting the dots between people and content with the introduction of the rel=”publisher” and rel=”author” tags.

How rel=”publisher” and rel=”author” tags will impact rankings

Over the past few months, Google has introduced the rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” tags to webmasters as a way to connect your website with your Google+ profile in search results. There have been several case studies already suggesting that the images shown next to search results with these tags increase click-through rates, but I think Google has plans for these tags to become far more profound than just impact CTR.

Below are some examples of what the new rel=”publisher” and rel=”author” tags look like in search results for my website TheMusiciansGuide.co.uk.

In combination, the rel=”author” and rel=”publisher” tags will give Google some incredibly strong signals that they’d be silly to not take into account for ranking search results.

One of the most profound signals is that Google will be able to tell apart content written by people with a relevant community from those who don’t.  If an author of a blog post on scuba diving has an online network with no one interested in scuba diving, Google might question whether that author is actually relevant to that topic. This means Google will be able to further drop the rankings of low quality content sites, and replace those rankings with websites written by people who genuinely participate in a community around the topic they write about. Using Google’s logic, that person is likely to be more knowledgeable.

This means that Google will also be able to recognize content written by influencers who are highly respected in a certain niche and reward them with higher rankings.

Google +1s will become one of the most accurate ways of ‘voting’ for a website

Likes and tweets are both great signals for determining a site’s popularity, and while there is a very good correlation between how much a site is shared on Twitter & Facebook and how it ranks in search results, both tweets and likes are incredibly easy to manipulate, as I’ve proved in previous experiments, making them a highly flawed method of voting.

Google +1s and what I’ll call ‘Google + signals,’ on the other hand, are incredibly hard to manipulate. This is because Google can tell whether you’re a real person or not by investigating your Google account history, such as the videos you’ve watched on YouTube videos, the e-mails you’ve sent in Gmail, and the searches you’ve made on Google. They can then determine whether you’re a genuine vote or not by looking at the context of your interests and relationships.

I think Google is onto a real winner with the data they’re collecting from integrating Google+ into search results and I think what we’re going to see in 2012 is an incredibly personalized search experience based around whose circles we’re in, who we add into our circles and what activity we participate in online. As the dots become increasingly connected, Google can only become more intelligent about how they position search results for us.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to know exactly what’s around the corner for Google+ at the moment, as every week there seems to be some exciting new development. That said, I think it’s fair to say that Google+ is going to become more and more of a ranking factor as Google continue to integrate it with their existing offerings. My advice? Get on there now, start growing your network on circles and get your tags implemented.

If anyone else has any thoughts on what Google might be doing with Google+ from an SEO perspective, I’d be very interested to know, you can either drop me a tweet at @MarcusATaylor or leave a comment below.

Marcus Taylor is the head of  social media at SEOptimise, a digital marketing agency based in Oxford, England. He is co-author of the book Get Noticed and regularly speaks at online marketing conferences. Marcus is also passionate about the music industry and runs TheMusiciansGuide.co.uk in his spare time. 

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Leo Dimilo

    Hey Marchus, I actually mentioned this exact theory last February on my website but didn’t factor in google + (b/c it didn’t really exist).  The fact that search is becoming more localized and more of preference-based depending on what your search habits back then was changing search engines.  Add in a social network and author profiles and suddenly ranking becomes far easier or far harder, depending on how much you affect your market beyond search.

    When I first posed my theory on how search was going to change, I got butchered up by those who didn’t agree with the social side of search.

    • http://twitter.com/joe_developer joe dev

      Tyranny of the masses :)

  • Emily

    Hi Jason,

    Thank you for writing this article on Google+.  Google+ is a great new social media platform that is in competition with LinkedIn and Facebook. As of date, Google+ has 40 million users, as compared to Facebook with 800 million users and LinkedIn with 135 million users.  We just wrote an article on Google+ explaining how to use it for businesses: http://www.grmwebsite.com/blog/bid/67691/How-To-Add-Google-To-Your-Social-Media-Marketing-Strategy-Emily

  • http://profiles.google.com/jason.lucey Jason Lucey

    Your point about ranking being influenced by the quality of your circles is really interesting and seems pretty likely. Also potentially very frustrating. For instance, if you have multiple interests and hobbies that you like to blog about, but don’t have time to cultivate a community around them all, then you have the potential to be bumped down in the SERPs–not for lack of strong content, but for lack of friends that share your interests. Eventually, this could lead to professional specialists and companies owning the search results. Will this make the results better? Maybe, but I think not. There are some aficionados out there with some really great ideas! 

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  • Bruce Mackay

    Hi this is a great post by Marcus I know he is write on seeing Gogles method and ideas . I have started trying to get Google circles started and have one going on marketing it is not large yet but I am just learning . social marketing is still new to me but I need Google ranking so I work at it. That is why I am reading and learning from good articles like this one.

  • Aseesvilangil

    Thank you for the informative post,, a super like

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  • http://www.pakiisp.com/ download free mp3 songs

    Thank you for writing this article on Google+.  Google+ is a great new social media platform. in future Google+ will become more popular and intresting.

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