Google+ launched back in 2011 and was immediately seen as the search engine giant’s attempt at muscling in on Facebook’s turf, despite Google’s claims otherwise. Despite Google’s high hopes for their social media platform, it never quite took off, with 90% of its sessions lasting less than 5 seconds…
Though it has a very small, yet very dedicated fanbase, the curtain call for Google+ came in 2018 after a data breach in March of that year. During the breach, over 500,000 accounts had their personal and private information illegally shared without consent by a number of developers. Unfortunately for Google, everything transpired during the Cambridge Analytica scandal, mere months before the launch of GDPR. However, the breach wasn’t disclosed until several months later, leaving the data and profiles of its users vulnerable during that time.
The story surrounding the breach was exposed by The Wall Street Journal in October of 2018. Within hours of the story breaking, Google had announced their acknowledgement of the issue and the closure of the platform, with the deadline of August 31st 2019. This was then suddenly pulled forward to April 2nd 2019 following the discovery of another bug:
“Starting April 2, 2019, we will shut down your Google+ account and any pages you created, and we’ll begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts,” Google stated. “Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted. If you have Google+ content that you would like to save, you must do so before April 2nd.”
The gap that Google+ left...
Users have been unable to post new content since February 4th and though the announcement of the closure of Google+ was a non-issue for many people, it has gained an impassioned handful of individuals who are mourning its loss. Many users have spoken out on the decision to shut down the platform, with Yonatan Zunger, a former Google engineer who worked on Google+ in its early days, speaking to CNBC and saying:
"I know its legacy for many people — measured in friendships formed, businesses started, in laughs and thoughts and marriages. I am glad it happened, and wish it could have grown into much more."
- Yonatan Zunger
There has even been a Change.org petition set up called ‘Don't Shut Down Google+’, with 38,237 having signed it (at the time of writing this blog) and displaying comments crediting the platform for broadening horizons and being a base for making friendships. Despite this, Google+ is still set to close down on April 2nd. So, what hole has this left in the social media market…
Sadly, it’s not really left one at all.
One of Google+’s main issues was that it didn’t have anything that truly differentiated it from the reigning social media kings like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. Google+ was spectacularly easy to set up. So much so that many people did it by accident prior to 2015 when trying to access the comment function on YouTube, and its lack of ads made it a much better place to be if you felt like you were drowning in them on other social media platforms.
Its main appeal for businesses, in particular, was that it had an influence on your website’s SEO. As a Google product, what it lacked in millions of users, it (apparently) made up for in its access to the Google search engine. You were able to use hashtags and embolden keywords or important content. The hashtags helped Google recognise your content and made it more likely to be found as it will be related to the hashtag internet-wide. Emboldened words in your posts would improve the chances that your content would get picked up as relevant when people search for the terms you embolden, making it more likely for people to find your content. Having an up to date profile improved your chances (along with a Google MyBusiness account) of having a Google Knowledge Graph. But, as Google’s audience began abandoning the platform, the relevance of it being an SEO assist went with them, meaning its real impact on ranking became minuscule in the end.
Social media channels shouldn’t be your focus for improving your SEO and ranking in SERPs. However, when it really comes down to it, social media channels, in general, CAN have an impact on your ranking - despite Google insisting otherwise. Social sharing may not impact Google ranking directly, but it can provide a boost to the ranking factors that Google DOES take into account. Meaning that as its user-base decreased.
Preparing for the end...
You may love it, you may hate it and you just might not care at all, but no matter what way you look at it, Google+ will be vanishing on April 2nd and the content being hosted on the social platform will be going with it. This includes any Google+ pages you created, as well as photos and videos stored in your Google+ album archive.
We imagine that the majority of people who have an account may have forgotten, or may just not be fussed about the end of Google+. If that’s the case, all you have to do it sit back and wait for it to be deleted. If you have an account, you should have received an email telling you your account will be being closed, but how do you prepare for it?
- Remove the Google+ share / follow buttons from your website and blog
- If you’re one of the small pool of Google+ users and haven’t already done this, visit Google’s help page here to find out how to download your data
- Browse their FAQ for any questions you may want to be answered on the closure of the platform.
- Get in touch with your friends or followers and let them know where else they can find you. You don’t want to lose out on the relationships you’ve built!
With roughly only 2 weeks to go until Google+ says sayonara, we’ll be keeping our eye on Google for their next venture into the social media realm… In the meantime, if you would like any advice on SEO, social media or anything digital marketing related, get in touch with us today!