I was reading a post by @rustybrick about google+ being a ranking factor and noticing how the twitterspehere seemed to collectively think that it opens the door for abuse. Many SEOs were making comparisons to how people link spam and anticipating the same for pluses. They point to the already available services that sell pluses as proof. (which, by the way is a waste of money when you can get them by other methods like cross site + buttons in iframes or paying as little as $0.01 each on Turk)
We can talk about better ways to game the system later, but for now I’d like to say that I don’t think Google+ will present anywhere near the spam problem that pagerank/link spamming does.
I’m not saying that people won’t try to spam pluses – they will. Plus counts will surely be affected by spammers and the companies that sell them aren’t going away. I’m just saying that the spam pluses won’t be effective at all.
We all know that paid and spammy links still work and work well. The reason they work is because it’s awfully difficult for Google to detect un-natural linking patterns. They’ve gotten pretty good at it, but a lot still slip through the cracks.
Spam pluses will be easily found and ignored in the algorithm
With Google+ and pluses however, they won’t have that problem. There’s one key difference between pagerank and plus. With plus, your real name is associated with everything you plus – and your history and patterns are all stored in Google’s system. That’s one of the benefits of Google’s real name policy (flawed as it may be.)
See, when you plus something you do it publicaly – with your real name. Unlike links, selling pluses requires one account per plus. Those accounts require real people. It won’t take long for patterns to emerge and Google to figure out which accounts are doing the spammy pluses. Once they do I imagine they’ll take the scalpel approach that they do for paid links where they simply “cut” them out of the link map.
Google and Bing already do this pretty well with their Twitter as a ranking factor implementation. They look at your followers and followees, your tweet history, link history, etc and come up with something similar to a trust rank. Well guess what? Google+ knows way more about you than Twitter does – so deciding who to trust is much easier than it is with a site from Twitter. And I don’t see Twitter spam accounts working that well. In fact, Google+ is probably tied to your Twitter account anyway so there’s no reason they couldn’t use that reputation you’ve already established.
I think that’s the beauty of plus. Having your pluses and history readily available allows Google to form patterns and decide just who to trust in rankings. Regardless of how much of a factor it is (I don’t buy that it’s as small a factor as Barry claims) Google will get pretty good at knowing whose pluses count and whose don’t.