The Google Share a Link Experiment

A new development in the way Google+ users can recommend results on Google’s website was announced yesterday on the G+ network by Google associate product manager Sean Liu. The change may affect how social signals and sharing signals are evaluated in the future.

‘Share’ Replacing ‘+1’

Although at the moment it’s only an experiment, those with a Google Plus account will be able to ‘Share’ links straight from the Search Engine Results Page. This will be replacing the better known ‘+1’ system which is somewhat similar to the ‘Like’ function on Facebook.

The ‘Share’ feature will only be replacing the old system with organic links on the SERP. People will still be able to ‘+1’ paid links. And they won’t need to actually visit the site to share it, which many are saying is a bit of an oversight in the system.

What Sharing Does

The +1 is essentially just a straight-forward recommendation shared amongst your network. The term ‘recommendation’ may be a bit strong though. As it’s more just an indication of your personal tastes and interests.

The share will allow you to add an accompanying comment and choose which circles you want to share the link with.

It registers as an actual post and will come up on the stream, giving it a lot higher public visibility. This is in contrast to the +1, which has a list of links in a separate ‘+1s’ tab on the Google Plus website.

SEO Implications

Some say this has replaced the ‘+1’ system in organic links only because Google views sharing a paid link as somewhat unethical. Others suspect that Google, in the future, will weigh the number of shares higher than +1s in their index.

This makes sense if you consider that social signals are now emerging as a ranking factor. They may just be trying to find a way to vary the weight of different social signals. Also, giving valuable weight to social signals on paid links is quite superfluous.