This week, Google announced that they will be shutting down Google+. This news is surprising in a few ways. Some people may be surprised at the reason why Google chose to abandon their social media platform. Others may be surprised to hear that Google+ was even still around in 2018.
A Brief History
In 2011, Google launched Google+, a new social media platform that sought to break into the market that sites like Facebook dominated. Initially, the buzz around Google+ was promising, and many people liked the idea of having an alternative to Facebook that linked up with other Google sites they frequently used, like YouTube and Google’s search engine.
Unfortunately for Google, interest and traffic to Google+ never really hit the levels they hoped for.
If you look at the numbers, it may be surprising to hear that Google+ was a dead platform. In 2016, Google+ had roughly 395 million active accounts.
That number is deceptive for multiple reasons. While these accounts may have been technically active, around 91% of these accounts were empty and had little-to-no activity from the user. This is because Google made the decision to have apps and services like Hangouts, Photos, and YouTube require a Google+ account to use.
So if you didn’t have an account and had no interest in using Google+, you would still need to create one just to do what you actually wanted to do. This meant that tons of people technically had a Google+ account, even if they never used it. In fact, about 90% of user sessions were under five seconds.
Why Shut Down Google+ Now?
What prompted Google to finally say goodbye to Google+? Unfortunately, the reason behind this decision is an all-too-common trend in recent times. In March of 2018, Google discovered a software bug that provided developers behind 438 apps with access to the private data of more than 500,000 users.
Information that could be accessed included email addresses, birth dates, full names, profile pictures, and more. According to Google, although developers had access to this information through the bug, there is no evidence that any of the 438 apps misused any of the data.
If the bug was found in March, why are they shutting down now? Simple: Because Google elected to keep their discovery a secret.
Because there was no evidence indicating that any of the data was misused, Google decided that keeping silent was their best option. They wanted to avoid bad press, especially in the wake of the huge Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal where improper access to the private user information of over 87 million Facebook users was discovered.
As information of the Google+ bug spread, and with Google+ being a dead platform, the decision to end the service was made.
Will This Affect My Rankings?
Any major change like this can potentially have an impact on businesses and page rankings. The good news is that the end of Google+ should not have a major impact on businesses.
Google has kept an eye on the dwindling user base of Google+ over the years. Slowly but surely, Google has reduced the influence that Google+ has on rankings and SEO. This was a good move on their end. If the demise of an already-dead social media platform had a major impact on countless businesses, Google would be facing even more backlash than they currently are.
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