For all the hard work Google puts into minimizing the affect of black-hat SEO tactics on search rankings, it’s curious that they still provide one of the most easily abused tools out there: the Google +1 Button. For a mere 50 cents or less, anyone can buy a unique +1 from companies like Plussem.com. 500 +1s– $160. With a little budget, anyone could have all the Google Plusones they want. So we asked, does the +1 still work as well as it did when Google+ first rolled out? We think they might not be as effective. One of our tests involved a particularly bad recipe on one of the most unloved recipe sites on the internet. Easy-recipe.net. This site hasn’t ranked for anything since 2008– and even then it was on a different domain– so really, easy-recipe.net had nothing going for it. UNTIL the Google +1! We purchased a fresh batch of +1s for the recipe “Fat-Free Apple Crisp”– which as no surprise did not rank in the top 200 results for “fat free apple crisp”. With +1s in place, the intrepid recipe started to climb! Aspiring for the number one spot, the recipe stalled at 11 and stayed there for several weeks. Now, since the April 3rd algorithm changes we have seen that poor recipe slip and are now finding it as far down in Google Results as the middle of page three. It could be the timing of the drop in rank with the most recent algorithm changes is just a coincidence and that the +1 has a limited lifespan. Or could it be that Google Algorithm changes did diminish the importance of +1s in search rankings. We aren’t sure. So… we’ll continue to test and will report what we find.