Is Google Plus Dying?Google Plus recently celebrated its third and probably the last birthday on 28-Jun-2014. Three years and this service from Google has failed to make an impact in the market dominated by the likes of Facebook and tweets of Twitter.

Barring few Android and Chrome users, it is usually hated by most YouTube and Google Play users, because of the forced integration for comments and reviews. Not even Google seems to care much about G+ nowadays as was evident when the service was virtually ignored in Google’s huge annual I/O conference last month. Not just this, Vic Gundotra, the vice president who launched G+ has also left the company few months back.

Google is also back-pedaling on the way it was using Google Authorship in search results to encourage authors like me to use the service. The idea was that we’d get our profile photos shown next to search results, along with so-called “circle counts”. This would make our stories stand out and thus encourage readers to click them. However, on June 26, Google’s John Mueller announced that both photos and circle counts were being dropped.

John Meuller's comments on Google Authorship
John Mueller’s comments on changes in Google search results impacting authors

This may be some tactical move from Google, but one thing is sure that there is now less incentive for people to associate their blog posts with Google+, and even less incentive to accumulate a lot of followers.

Analyzing the problems of Google+

Google+ was never a source of major traffic driver to websites as compared to Facebook and Pinterest. Shareaholic’s latest Social Media Traffic Report provides percentages of traffic received from different social media channels, which is as follows:

Facebook – 21.25%

Pinterest – 7.10%

YouTube – 0.09%

Google+ – 0.08%

Interestingly YouTube’s performance decreased from 0.19% in December 2013 to 0.09% in March 2014. This is interesting because an enforced integration of G+ is probably the reason behind this negative impact on YouTube.

Google+ vs. Facebook

Google+ is nothing in comparison to Facebook. The vast majority of visible interactions on G+ are not with friends but with people you don’t know and don’t care about. Your friends and family are not on G+, they’re on Facebook. So in almost any comparison between G+ and Facebook, G+ is going to lose.

Google+ vs. Twitter

Google+ is a heavyweight version of Twitter and it suffers from some of the same problems as Twitter, including a very high abandonment rate. All a lot of people with G+ profiles don’t even know they have it.

Conclusion:

The real problem with Google+ is that it was not designed to meet user’s need. It was actually designed to meet Google’s need. It’s a way for Google to tie together all the information it gets from reading your emails, from tracking the websites you visit, and from Android phone users, with a real identity.

The main advantage for users is a single sign-on across Google services, but that works perfectly well with any old Gmail address, including a pseudonymous one. It doesn’t need a blistering social network behind it. And whether a single sign-on is actually an advantage is another matter. Not every YouTube user (or Google Play reviewer) agrees.

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