According to Wired, Google has shared its plans to use its +1 button to influence its search results.
“Google will study the clicks on +1 buttons as a signal that influences the ranking and appearance of websites in search results,” a spokesman wrote. “The purpose of any ranking signal is to improve overall search quality. For +1’s and other social ranking signals, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals are related to quality.”
The idea is that using clicks from the +1 buttons will improve the relevancy of the website’s search results, but there is speculation that Google is also seeking to increase the viability of its own social networking platform. Google+ has seen a huge influx of users, but the site has realized that its platform may need more incentive to remain relevant within the shadow of its Facebook rivals. Recently, Google+ expanded the scope of the +1 button so that when clicked, you’re Google+ feed is updated with the site — more similar to Facebook’s Like button.
As far as websites are concerned, if Google’s search results become heavily dependent on its social networking, there will be a lot of pressure to use the +1 button.
Kashmir Hill from Forbes went as far as to say, after a meeting with Google, “the message in this meeting was clear: Put a Plus One button on your pages or your search traffic will suffer.” The statement apparently went too far as the story is no-longer available on Forbes and won’t turn up in any Google results. You can still read it because it was noticed and saved by the Raven Tools SEO blog. Wired said that Forbes and Google have declined to speak on record as to what happened to the post.
Google seems to have since become aware of the potential heat that it could see and tried to downplay its significance to Wired: “There are more than 200 signals that we use to determine the rank of a website, and last year we made more than 500 improvements to the algorithm.”
Google has claimed that using +1 results will help to fight web spam, but this is perhaps the most concerning issue of all. In its bid to add more human input into its search results, its essentially creating a new avenue for spammers who could flood its social networks with fake profiles and fake votes.