The Internet is always changing. Sometimes, there are surprises—like when one of the largest tech companies in the world finally admitted it couldn’t manage to get an engaged audience for its social network. That network, of course, is—or rather, was—Google+. Launched well after Facebook, the social media platform struggled to gain traction, even with the ongoing debate about how much Google+ may or may not affect SEO results. Eventually, we heard the news that Google is shutting down its signature social network after years of waning interest.
Some digital marketers and business owners are still wondering how, if at all, the departure from Google+ will affect their search rankings. The good news? Even if you were using the platform regularly for your business, your Google Plus posts probably weren’t having much of an impact on your digital marketing results. Here’s what you need to know.
Giving up on Google+
Back in October of 2018, Google announced that they would be closing down consumer Google+ in April of 2019. They admitted that few users were engaging with the network the way they were with other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The failure of Google+ is an important lesson. It shows that not all ventures that even the biggest of businesses take on are successful, and that it can be necessary to ultimately let go of those unsuccessful projects.
Competition From Other Social Networks
In the end, Google+ just wasn’t able to compete with the big, popular social networking sites in any meaningful way. There wasn’t much that set the network apart from its competitors, except that it was associated with the powerhouse that is Google. Even Google executives were often more active on other platforms than their homegrown network.
Early on, Google encouraged businesses to use the platform to promote blog posts and other content and to publish posts regularly by linking the network to its search engine, Google’s signature product. With the incentive of SEO gains, many organizations tried to get higher up in the search results by staying active on Google Plus and using it as a publishing platform.
“Social signals” like “likes” on Facebook or “+1s” on Google+ can indicate the engagement and interest a post is generating. On Google Plus, those social signals were thought to help influence an organization’s ultimate search engine result placement. Even this, however, didn’t increase engagement enough to bring people over from Facebook and Twitter.
User Data Exposed
Another issue that may have contributed to the demise of Google Plus was the security glitch that is thought to have exposed the data of 500,000 users over a three year period. Although Google kept quiet about the incident and has said that the bug was fixed and that it was not required to report it, many are upset about the way the company handled the situation. Much like the Cambridge Analytica scandal that rocked Facebook last year, users are concerned about how their data is being used and protected, and how social media companies are using it.
Your SEO and Strategy: What the End of Google+ Means for Your Business
Now that we know why Google+ has finally shut down, what does it mean for your business? Well, this process has been a long time coming. It was announced back in October and very few people were engaging with the platforms in the years before the announced closure. If you were relying on Google Plus for a portion of your SEO strategy, then it’s well past time to shift your focus. Link building, keywords, and on-page SEO are all important for climbing within the Google search rankings.
The good news? As the interest in Google+ has waned, so has its importance in search engine rankings. Your position in the search results is likely being influenced by other factors much more than Google+ and you shouldn’t see much of a change in the rankings. Additionally, your Google account shouldn’t otherwise change now that Plus has been deactivated. Gmail and Google Drive are still going strong, and your Google My Business listing is more important than ever for allowing local customers to find you.
Social Media in Today’s Digital Marketing Landscape
When social media was new and shiny, any business that bothered to make an account could usually count on getting some good traffic to their website. Today, it’s much harder to cut through the noise and build engagement on any platform.
Social media, while tricky to master, is still an important digital marketing tool. It’s always key to choose the platforms your target audience is using. Plastic surgeons, for instance, are often marketing to middle-aged and older people, who are more likely to use Facebook than Instagram. Now is a good time to shift your energy toward the platforms that matter most. Keeping up with trends is important because as we have seen, not all platforms have the staying power to factor into a long-term marketing strategy.