Many internet marketers consider Google+ a dead project. Articles periodically appear on the web about the inefficiency of this social service or Google’s plans to close it. However, Google+ is developing, has hundreds of millions of active users per month and is ahead of other social projects in this indicator, for example, Twitter. What factors will affect the future of the social network Google+? Read below.
Why marketers doubt the viability of Google+
According to Google, at the beginning of 2014, Google+'s monthly audience reached 540 million users. We are talking about people who at least once a month used a social network in one way or another: put a “+1” article they liked, used a Google account to register on a third-party service, commented on a YouTube video or blog post, logged in to Google+, made a repost favorite material.
Google claims that 300 million people view content on Google+ every month using a browser or a mobile gadget application. We are talking about users who purposefully log into your account and view the news feed. By this measure, the popularity of Google+ is comparable to Twitter or LinkedIn.
However, Google+ has low audience engagement rates. According to SimilarWeb, Google has the highest bounce rate among the largest social networks. The average time spent by a user on a page barely exceeds 3 minutes. Google+ users, compared to Facebook and Twitter users, are less likely to share content, comment on posts, and put a +1. About the activity of Google+ users in RuNet can be judged by the following illustration.
At the beginning of 2014, the creator of the social network Google+, Vivek Gundotra, left the Google team. At the same time, influential publications independently suggested that Google will close its social network in the near future. Journalists were not shy about expressions: The New York Times considered Google+ to be a "dead city", Forbes called its article on the service a panegyric, and TechCrunch used the expression "the living dead."
See also: How to increase traffic using Google+: 9 practical tips
The latest disappointing data for Google+ was published by BusinessInsider at the end of January of this year. According to the publication, only 9% of users of this network actively publish content. BusinessInsider cited data from high-tech expert David Morbius, according to which in January 2015, only 6 million Google+ users published at least one note.
No one knows what awaits Google+ in the future. However, you can guess the main trends of its development by considering the key factors that will affect Google’s social service in the near future.
Factors negative for the future of Google+
- Google+ never became a Facebook killer. In the foreseeable future, Google will lag behind in terms of key performance indicators from the largest social network in the world, as well as from local leaders, such as Vkontakte in runet. Will this cause the closure of the project? No, because Google management can set realistic goals. In the end, formally, the largest audience on Google+ is comparable to Twitter.
- Google+ remains a dead social network. It’s about low user engagement: people’s reluctance to post content, comment, set +1, join communities. This is a serious problem. In fairness it should be noted that for some behavioral metrics the situation for Google+ does not look so bad. For example, the Google service is ahead of Twitter and LinkedIn in terms of pages viewed per visit, and also ahead of LinkedIn and approaching Twitter in search traffic.
- Google+ no longer supports the authorship feature. Some people created an account on this network just for the sake of the link to their profile and photos on the search results page.
See also: Should authorship be indicated after removing authors' photos from the SERP Google?
- The Hangouts service is no longer tied to Google+. Hangouts was one of the most attractive features of Google+. Unlinking a service from a social network most likely reduces attendance of the latter.
- About two years ago, Google integrated a social network and photo storage service Picasa. At the end of 2014 there were rumors that the function of working with photos would again be untied from the social network. Google implemented this for mobile devices. This is a negative factor, but it can hardly be considered critical. For example, Facebook is in no hurry to integrate Instagram with the social network.
Positive for the future of Google+ factors
- Google+ is owned by the largest search engine in the world. This means access to investments, integration of Google+ accounts with super popular services, such as Gmail and YouTube. The search engine can use the network platform to collect data on user activity on the site and improve resource rankings.
- New features are constantly appearing on Google+. Last year, the network introduced Google’s My Business feature, which has already become popular. Apps for smartphones and tablets Google+ are constantly being improved. This means that Google is investing in the development of social networks.
- The Google+ team is growing. In October 2014, the head of the social network, Dave Besbris, told in an interview to recode.net, that he hires staff and does not plan to close the project. Moreover, the Google+ CEO stressed that Google’s shareholders are pleased with the development of the social network.
- Google+ remains perhaps the most promising social network in the world. The project has already attracted hundreds of millions of users, which can be considered a gold mine. It remains to activate and involve these people with the help of new services and functions.
- Google+ improves search quality for users. According to Stone Temple Consulting expert Mark Trafagen, 60% of Google users use a search engine after logging in to a Google+ account. Because of this, they receive a personalized issue. The search engine stores all data about the preferences of the user and members of his circles, so the quality of the personalized SERP is constantly improved.
See also: Pinterest vs. Google+: battlefield - visual content
Google won't give up
Google search needs user data, so it is unlikely to close the Google+ project. It can be assumed that Google will bet on the long-term development of the social platform hub, which will include Google+, YouTube, Hangouts, other existing and new services. Users will be able to use each of them separately, but a certain degree of integration will remain. It is possible that Google will buy new or regional social networks and integrate them into the hub.