Are Google reps encouraging webmasters to break the +1 rules?

Yesterday, writing for Search Engine Watch Dave Davies shared some insight on whether +1 votes will improve rankings.

I've been trying to leave a comment there for an hour now and the servers seem to be having a problem so I'm resorting to a blog post here.

The post contains potentially harmful advice. I'm not calling Davies out over this - from his post it seems to be the case that he's repeating advice passed on to him from a Google Rep. I'm worried about what the Rep is suggesting.

In summary, the suggestion is that's ethical to offer an incentive on +1 presses. It's not. It's against the +1 button policy you agree too when you start to use the button.

The key bit of text says;

Publishers should not promote prizes, monies, or monetary equivalents in exchange for +1 Button clicks. For the avoidance of doubt, Publishers can direct users to the +1 Button to enable content and functionality for users and their social connections. When Publishers direct users to the +1 Button, the +1 action must be related to the Publishers’ content and the content or functionality must be available for both the visitor and their social connections.

I had the chance to speak to Google directly about this. It was suggested to me that the spam form could be used to report breaches of the rules and Google would be keeping an eye on things. Whether they can keep up is up for debate but as SEOs gain confidence that +1 votes are worthwhile Google will have a bigger spam issue on their hands. I don't imagine Reps who may not be fully aware of the rules and regulations will help very much should it come to that.

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