Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Google's use of the +1 button for search ranking

So firstly, a confession: I had always assumed that Google used +1 ratings in some small way for search engine rankings. Perhaps I'm misreading their blurb, but it seemed that they were pretty much advertised as such to web publishers. Clearly the influence would have to be small, as +1 ratings are easily fakable, but I assumed they were used in some way.

According to a recent Wired article, it seems that this isn't yet the case, but that Google are still in the process of considering using tihis nformation.

A couple of problems I see:
  • as Ryan Singel notes, it's easy enough for web site authors to "fraudulently" arrange +1 clicks on their own site, so some kind of filtering would presumably be required, and the degree of influence that +1 ratings had would need to be quite carefully balanced and monitored;
  • it may be that certain more "socially oriented" sites are more susceptible to the +1 or "Like" concept; just because a site is more focussed on social networking doesn't necessarily mean that its content is more "worthy" or relevant in response to a given search.

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