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Google Signals- Is the End Coming Soon for Google +?
There have been some interesting updates by Google lately as related to their huge push to really get Google + to be a social network and compete in the networking space.
I actually really like Google +. I love the communities that you can build and for many ideas and forums, it is perfect. However, for the majority of people Google + just did not offer anything big enough to have them either add Google + to their social networking tasks or to engage on the platform.
Facebook just does not offer the same kinds of communities that Google + does. For instance, I love San Francisco. I used to live in San Francisco. So when I go to San Francisco I naturally take a lot of photos of my favorite places there, etc. To keep my heart in San Francisco one of the things I did was to start a community on Google + called San Francisco. I post my photos there but also people from San Francisco join the community and add their photos and conversation. I love that.
On the other hand, for buyers and sellers here in South Florida- Google + is just not being used by those consumers. Most of our networking is peer to peer inside of the real estate communities. Referrals are great too!
In 2012 Google made a really big push for you to have a Google + account when you signed up for YouTube, Adwords, etc. It looked like it was forced, but actually it was very difficult to find a way to skip that step.
This no longer is the case. There was no big announcement about it. It just happened. Now you don't need to have a Google + account. Without being so “in your face” with the signups, new users won't be joining as frequently and that is one of the silent signals that Google + is going down.
In April the person at Google who handled Google + ( Vic Gundotra) announced he was leaving Google. Did he see the writing on the wall?
Of course we all remember how this past June, Google killed authorship and snippets including author photos and circle counts. I have my own opinion about why this happened but that would be another post. Most people believe that this is also a silent signal that the end of Google + is going to be coming down the pipeline.
A very important component to Google + is “Hangouts”. This was the one part of the platform that differentiated itself from other social networks. Now Google Hangouts is available as an app even if you do not have a Google + account. That is another silent signal.
There is talk in the tech world that Google is planning to open up a photo service called Google + Photos where Google is not going to require you to have a Google + account in order to use this product.
So they have moved their hangouts out of the Google + only arena and looks as if the photos will also go that way. Without those 2 main pieces there is nothing much left for regular users that would make them stay or open up a Google + account. Without new members opening up new accounts- the social piece of Google + will not be able to survive.
Google has been getting rid of local biz six packs which is a good thing because for real estate related sites, the local agents traffic went up when that happened, not down. But is that another silent signal? It seems like a lot of work going to waste especially after Google just recently integrated your google local pages into Google+.
It seems by looking at this information that Google is quietly taking apart Google + piece by piece.
Of course you should never have all of your eggs in one basket but if they are all in the Google + basket, I suggest strongly that you start taking your content out and getting a plan B for your eggs going.
There are some quite awesome SEO benefits to being on Google +. You can even build out nice content pages using #hashtags and long tail keywords and then link to those pages. Every post you write on Google + has its own URL that you can market. That helps to get your content to show up oin the SERPS. Our Google + pages still show up in the SERPS. What will happen to those SERPS only time will tell.
It is recommended that you begin to shift your focus to other networks and to build your own networks on your own websites. Most of us do not get the kind of traffic one would need to make it this an efficient strategy.
My advice is to continue to use Google + while it is still around however, don't keep all your efforts only there. Make sure you have a social media strategy for all of the social networks as well as your own websites.
When rumors and speculation happens like this a lot of marketers start jumping ship. Let them. If more of your competitors leave Google + the more you can capitalize on any traffic you can create by understanding how to use this to your SEO advantage.
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