I just read an interesting article about Google Plus as a search ranking tool by Kelvin Newman. He posted it back in July but for it’s age it’s still very interesting. I’ve wondered myself why Google decided to join the fray and compete against a facebook behemoth that already has the advantage of millions of users who form many social networks. Kevin posits that Google is just as interested in gaining insights from Google Plus that help improve its search as Google is interested in creating a new social networking tool.
There’s a group of people who Rand Fishkin affectionately calls the linkerati, these are the people who own and maintain websites and who have the ability to link to sites. These people are also very often the early adopters of technology and social networks.
In the past Google has been able to rely on this group to act as arbitrators of quality content online, if they linked to it, then the search engines could be confident of something’s quality.
The problem is that fewer of these people are actively maintaining websites as their attention is drawn towards social network sites that Google can’t really glean insight from.
This is an absolutely tiny sample of just fifteen articles, on just one website, which I imagine is far more likely to have Google + users than most. But the correlation was there.
Between G+ and FB 0.97
Between G+ and Tweets 0.94
Between G+ and LinkedIn Shares 0.95
1.0 is a perfect correlation, and this kind of correlation is pretty much unprecedented, and with more data I’m pretty sure the relationship would become weaker, but based on this miniscule sample, Google can already know a lot about how socially popular a piece of content is based on Google+ shares.
Please read his entire post for it to make complete sense. That said, I find it fascinating that because Google can control Google Plus better an even though it has far fewer users than facebook millions of users still give you enough data to understand trends and improve search. According to Paul Allen, Google Plus probably gained 50 million users in late September. I think that’s more than enough to gain insight into content.