Google may be the undisputed leader in search, but not all the tech company’s ventures have been a huge success. Their attempts at getting into the social media game, for example, have been an undeniable flop. Now Google is set to completely shut down its long-failing social media platform Google+.
But why did it fail?
To understand what ultimately lead to the Google+ shut down, let’s go back to the beginning.
You may be surprised the Google+ wasn’t the company’s first attempt at getting into social media. Google had other ventures prior that simply didn’t pan out.
Google Buzz, for example, launched in early 2010 as a way to make email more “social”. Users with a Gmail account were able to start “conversations” with their friends where they could share links to articles and other media.
Eventually, the decision was made to shut down Google Buzz. Not only did this service fail to really resonate with the average user, Google had something else up their sleeve.
Rolling out in 2011, Google+ was the company’s fourth and (to date) final attempt at getting into the social media game.
To be fair, Google+ was far more robust than its predecessors, and most closely resembled the social media platforms we’re used to using today.
Like other popular social media sites, you had the ability to posts status updates and share links and media on your profile. One of the functions that made Google+ unique was the ability to segregate the people who you connected with on the site into “circles”.
You could use circles to decide what type of updates you share with a particular audience.
For example, you may want to share an industry-related article with your colleagues, but not necessarily you vacation photos.
Before Google shut down Google+, it also showed some great promise for businesses.
From an SEO perspective, Google+ seemed like a dream come true.
Status updates on Google+ were discoverable in search results. Even if you didn’t necessarily have an engaged audience on the social media platform, linking to your blog or website on Google+ was great for increasing your content’s visibility in the search engine.
Smaller websites that previously struggled to compete in their niche started to see a nice boost in traffic coming from their efforts on Google+.
It makes sense the Google would show favor in search results to content shared on its own social platform, so SEO professionals were quick to adopt Google+ in its early months.
Many people joined the platform early on, however, engagement on the site was disappointing from the beginning.
Google+ simply failed to add value that users couldn’t find elsewhere.
Many users were already avid Facebook or Twitter users, so what made Google+ different? The answer was not enough for them to make the switch.
The fall of Google+ was slow and painful.
Attempts were made to tweak functionality over the years, but Google never seemed to get it right.
Long before the announcement came of Google shutting down their social media platform, they slowly began to break Google+ down bit by bit. By 2015, Google+ was nearly unrecognizable from what it started out as, as most functionality had been stripped.
While most users abandoned the platform long ago, the final nail on the coffin actually came from some serious security concerns.
Google recently revealed that their team discovered a serious security glitch. This made Google+ users’ data vulnerable and exposed to hackers.
While they claim to have quickly caught and remedied the glitch way back in March, the damage had already been done. From a PR standpoint, there was just no way to recover the public’s trust in Google+.
Part of it was timing. Several stories have surfaced in the last year surrounding data breaches from large companies. The public’s concern over data security is at an all-time high. The fact that this breach happened in the first place, and that it took Google so long to go public about the incident was the last straw for Google+.
For many, the most surprising thing about the announcement that Google will be shutting down their social media platform was that Google+ was even still around.
As we know, most casual user never really embraced Google+ or abandoned it long ago.
Marketers and website owners who enjoyed the extra “SEO juice” they got from sharing their content on Google+ are probably the saddest to see it go.
When Google+ launched, many SEO professionals urged business owners to get on board with the platform. This was sound advice, especially for local businesses.
If your local business benefitted from your activity on Google+, all is not lost. There are many other ways to optimize your online presence as a local business. Although SEO trends may come and go, there are some best practices that will always remain constant.
First, even if you won’t be actively posting on Google+, you still need to pay attention to your Google business account. If you haven’t already claimed your business listing on Google, you should do so immediately.
Take some time to make sure that your “Google My Business” profile is always accurate and up to date. If you’re not sure how to optimize this profile, you should seek the help of an SEO professional.
Google+ will soon be a thing of the past. However, the search giant is always going to be looking for new ways to improve search results.
To learn more about SEO and online reputation management for small businesses, call our office today. Our SEO experts can help you get more exposure online and more customers walking through your doors.