Google Doesn't Index Selectively Shared Posts

Excluded Circle

As you can guess from the title, our main discovery (or I should say confirmation) is that Google+ posts you share with limited circles will not be indexed and will not return in Google’s non-personalised search results.

So, if you share a post with two other people, the three of you will be able to see that post in Google’s personalised search (SPYW). Log out or perform the search as somebody else and you won’t be able to see it.

The Experiment

Here is the public invitation we sent out to everyone who wanted to participate in the experiment:

It’s time for another experiment!

This time we’ll be checking if Google can learn about a new term through a selectively shared post.

Google+ is based on selective sharing principle and only public posts should be indexable. If you share something with only 1, 2 or 100 other people it should still remain inaccessible within Google’s index.

What you need to do.
Share this message to a limited number of people (not to public, only those you think would participate in the experiment) and in the custom part (your message) add an imaginary term that you cannot find in Google. (e.g. I just found disaquivalated). Don’t mention that phrase anywhere.

And then?
Set up a Google Alert ( for that term and report back here if you get an email.

Selective Sharing

Here you can see a screenshot of one of the participating users, Jaana Nyström and her secret made up word:


The term in the screenshot has not been indexed in Google’s results since January. Interestingly, that post is also not available in my personalised search results even though I am in Jaana’s circles and can find her post in Google+ internal search.

Here’s one selectively shared post which comes up in my personalised results by Andy Wigglesworth:

Andy's Result

The result disappears and zero results are returned if I switch to the “globe” in results.

Impact of Selective Sharing on Google’s Link Graph

Any links you share with a specific circle and not as public will not count as part of the normal link graph and will not help your rankings in a ‘traditional’ sense.

Similarly if you share an image and include the link in the post body, you will find that the URL will contain rel=”nofollow” and will not count as a link in Google’s link graph. Same thing happens when you share multiple URLs in the same post, only one will be followed – so it’s probably a good idea to share them separately if you want each link to get SEO value when shared on Google+.

Search Mendex

In one of my recent articles I discuss the concept of “index of one”. Since we’ve confirmed that Google won’t show selectively shared information in its mainstream results, that means you can already start creating your very own index in Google by sharing certain posts and information with yourself only.

Private Share

I know it sound a bit sad at first, but think of it as your very own personal search index which you can use in a wide variety of ways (text, media, events…etc) and look it up in Google at any time while logged in.

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Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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8 thoughts on “Google Doesn't Index Selectively Shared Posts”

  1. Ken Jones says:

    Nice experiment Dan. It does make sense that Google would only want to use public posts for inclusion in publicly available web searches but it’s good to see the theory tested and get confirmation of its behaviour for items shared to limited circles and how that can influence personalised search results.
    Just to clarify your point about nofollow being added to second (or third etc) links in posts, does that hold true for public posts as well or are you still referring to posts to limited circles?
    PS Good reminder about the “mendex” (and a nicely coined turn of phrase as well). I’ve been using a “Note To Self” circle with just me in it for a while for just that purpose.

  2. Amit Chaudhary says:

    Hey Dan, thanks for this experiment…one query is hitting my mind. Is there any specific number of +1’s that Google considers for a page or a post to let it appear in Google SERP’s. if YES then how many and if NO then Google should think about this…what’s your take?

  3. Dejan SEO says:

    I don’t think +’s influence Google’s decision to index or not a selectively shared post.

  4. Dejan SEO says:

    Yes public posts too, not just limited.

  5. W.E. Jonk says:

    Also “instant preview” doesn’t seem to work for limited posts. That is, my experience is that the “instant preview” shows a log in screen.

  6. Paul Gailey says:

    The Mendex is how I substituted Delicious for Google Plus.

  7. Max Minzer says:

    Exactly, @paulgailey:disqus! I’ve been doing that for over a year now 🙂 Great point about making your own personalized search, @dejanseo:disqus! Gotta love this weird thing called G+