Google+ (also known as Google Plus), has always been the red-headed stepchild of social media. Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is finally calling it quits effective April 2019.
I can’t say I’ll miss it.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have told my clients (up until today that is), that they needed to have a Google+ profile and post to it regularly for no other reason than to appease the “Google Gods.”
As an agency, Tribute Media has always maintained our Google+ profile and posted to it regularly. We even blogged about why you should have a Google+ profile in 2014. But that was over 4 years ago, and things have changed.
First, let’s look at the history of Google+
Google+ was launched to the public in 2011 as a social platform that had the vision to dominate the market. Users could easily integrate their Google+ profiles with YouTube and their Gmail account, create “hangouts” for people to join, and create circles of your friends to communicate with each other. Businesses could integrate their Google+ profile with their YouTube channel and Google Maps location.
For the first few years, Google saw notable success in attracting engaged users, especially since Twitter and Facebook were making it harder for business posts to get organic views.
If you’re skeptical if anyone ever participated in the Google+ platform, below are three examples of individuals who gained a sizable follower base.
- Felicia Day has 8.1 Million followers
- Larry Page has 9.8 Million followers
- Tom Anderson has 6.3 Million followers
What Went Wrong?
I’ve heard over the past few years that Google+ never had a chance because they were “late-to-the-game.” That argument is proven false by Snapchat, who entered the social media market the very same year. Ultimately, Google+ didn’t bring anything new to the table.
And then the data breach happened.
Back in March of this year(2018), Google discovered an issue and quickly released a patch and fixed the vulnerability, but not before hackers got their hands on hundreds of thousands of users information. And to top it off, Google kept the issue quiet. According to Google, the security breach did not meet their threshold of security issues that would require them to report the data breach.
Enter the Wall Street Journal and their story uncovering the breach on October 8th, 2018. Compound the issue with Google’s refusal to send a representative to a Senate Intelligence Committee meeting on September 5th to provide testimony about data security issues. Facebook and Twitter were there.
Taking a step back, an argument can be made that the Google data breach is no different than the Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal or any other data breach other companies have experienced. So, let’s consider other factors. Remember the three users I referenced earlier?
- Felicia Day - As of 10/9/2018, hasn’t posted in the last 23 weeks.
- Larry Page – Has not posted since August 2015.
- Tom Anderson - Hasn’t posted anything new since May of 2017
Users, especially influential users, have long since abandoned the platform. Combine the loss of activity with the security breach of potentially hundreds of thousands of users’ data, and you have a fairly compelling reason to shut down a platform.
If you ask me, I think they made the right choice. Google is a giant in so many other areas, Google + seemed to be a liability and not an asset.
How will SEO be affected?
We don’t know yet.
Since Google+ will be going away for everybody, my guess is that it will be a non-issue in the search engine optimization world.
Companies still need to be active on their other social media pages and maintain any other Google products they have in use, whether that be Google Locations (formally Google My Business), YouTube, Ads, or Reviews.
In the grand scheme of things, it will be business as usual for everyone, and you can discontinue your obligatory, though infrequent, Google+ posts.