Google Plus Admits Defeat, Reorganizes Functionality
Four years ago, Google Plus launched with the welcoming slogan “Let’s Meet Here.” There were big expectations—millions of people who were already using multiple social media accounts were interested by Google’s latest move to diversify its channel distribution.
Some were hopeful, looking back to the previous five years since Google’s acquisition of YouTube, which was continuing to flourish year after year. Others were skeptical: Purchasing an internet giant is one thing, but attempting to push out Facebook with an impressionistic product was altogether different.
Years later, this skepticism appears to have been warranted. While Facebook has about 1.5 billion monthly active users, Google plus has only been able to retain around 4-6 million. This statistic may even be inflated—of these active users, about a third of them only post by commenting on YouTube videos, which then show up in their profile.
On July 27, Google announced that it will no longer be automatically creating Google Plus accounts when people create a Google account. It may seem like an admission of defeat (the announcement blog certainly reads like a goodbye), but this simple shift may actually present an opportunity for marketers to take advantage of a somewhat unorthodox social media platform.
SEO Benefits of Google Plus
Despite popular belief, Google Plus is a platform you can’t really approach like other social media. For every feature that Google Plus shares with its competitors—from statuses to sharing to liking posts—it comes up lacking if for no other reason than its opacity. Facebook set the conventional model for how social networks should appear and function. Google Plus’s organization through “circles” presents many users with a system alien enough to be a deterrent.
However, Google Plus still offers benefits that most other social media platforms lack, particularly for improving visibility across your channel distribution. These SEO benefits, understandably, weren’t of interest to personal users (most of whom would prefer to not be easily searched on the web, in turn hurting Google Plus’s audience. However, other more popular social media marketing platforms like Twitter have taken notice of this unique element in the Google Plus formula, and marketers should as well.
The Case for Concentration
It is unclear at this point to what extent, if any, Google will be reducing the number of inactive accounts on Google Plus. The latest change requiring users to actively create an account might suggest that new users are interested in being active, as opposed to their 1.8 billion or so inactive peers.
Regardless of whether or not Google begins to clean out other accounts, reducing the growth of inactive accounts means that an active page is more likely to reach an engaged audience—SEO efforts are more likely to improve reach visibility across your channel distribution.
This first move by Google to cut back on their social platform will be interpreted by many as a sign of defeat, but it is likewise possible that this is a first step toward building an engaged audience before making moves to roll out a new feature or improve the current functionality of the site. In the meantime, Google Plus remains free to use, so there’s no reason not to keep a keyword presence for the time being.