Google has proposed using data from its +1 button to help re-order search results and fight web spam. This move would take the entire search engine into the social arena.
“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.”
Google has also faced scrutiny recently because they had been accused of favoring their own services in search results over others. Google is still facing pressure from Europe and Washington over this issue. However Google has stated that this is simply not the case and defends themselves with the following statement.
“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.”
The improvements that Google is speaking about are the recent changes that were made to combat spam websites from appearing above more relevant results. Now with the +1 button having more control over search results spam results should be even harder to come across. However, what if groups of people favored one specific site and kept driving them to the top of the results similar to what happened to Digg.com. Digg had content from the same source at the top of the results on a daily basis and it would be above more relevant content.
So, if the Google results are now going to rely on social signals such as the +1 button what about sites that don’t incorporate it yet? Or what about new sites that are emerging onto the internet? Do they have a chance at even being listed in the search results and driving traffic to their sites? This is a very touchy subject and Google will need to think about it and pursue it very carefully.