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Everything you need to understand about the Google+ Shutdown

The Google+ platform has shut down which will affect some business’s SEO. Is your brand ready for this change? As a top web development and digital marketing firm, we wanted to share everything you need to understand about the Google+ shutdown, including how it might impact your business.

When the platform launched in 2011 it started strong with users flocking to check out what was expected to be Google’s next big hit. However, numbers immediately dropped for both usage and engagement and the platform was relegated to the “big miss” pile.

Why did Google+ fail?

While the platform was intriguing, it simply wasn’t as well received as other platforms. Although it tried to look like Facebook, providing a lesser version of something already in existence typically does not result in capturing a large market share. Additionally, the platform was created to help with Google’s own problems first – managing user profiles for their various apps and services – rather than focusing on consumers’ needs for connectivity. Many developers did not seem to value or support the platform either as apps, including social media management apps, often didn’t include Google+.

As if the decrease in users and engagement wasn’t already enough, there was a rather huge bug in the system that Google did not find and fix until March 2018. The was an API bug that could have been exploited to capture data users marked as private such as names, email addresses, occupation, gender, and age.

Google only keeps API logs for two weeks, and because of that they were unable to determine how many people were impacted, but the estimate is that up to 500,000 Google+ accounts could have potentially been affected. Many of those data fields were optional which lessened the impact. Additionally, as developers were not aware of the bug, it is less likely people were impacted.

Of course, that still does not help with public perception when Google mentioned the API bug now as the platform is shutting down rather than when it happened.

Expected shutdown timeline

The shutdown officially took place on April 2 for consumers. The Legacy Google+ APIs were shut down in March. An important note, Google+ will not be shut down for corporate users.

The other Google products such as Gmail, Google Photos, Google Drive, and YouTube are unaffected by this change, although some YouTube functionality that was built with Google+ may be impacted. The Google account used for all of those services will remain the same. Photos and videos that were on Google+ but were backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

How will this impact businesses?

The primary impact for most businesses will be SEO related. In that regard the impact will focus on those brands which regularly made use of the platform to help promote blog posts and other types of web content.

Similar to a Facebook like, people would use +1’s on content which would re-post the content to that user’s page as well as increase the overall + counter. The +1’s would also relate within a network allowing those pages that are liked enough to appear higher in Google search results.

As of right now Google has not made a determination on how closing the platform will affect the SEO rankings for existing content on the platform. They are in the process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts and pages, which is expected to take a few months for completion. It is expected that those brands which had high-value content on the site will experience a dip, however that content could be repurposed to another platform.

  • For any businesses that have not downloaded Google+ data – visit this Google Support Page for instructions on how to download some or all data as well as saving photos and videos.
  • The Google My Business listing should not be affected by the Google+ shutdown as these are two different accounts.
  • Another important note: Google+ for G Suite will continue as a way for people to have discussions and Google plans on continuing to invest in this venture.

Updates to social strategy:

For anyone using Google+, make sure to do the following:

  • Remove all the Google+ sharing buttons from both your website and blog posts to avoid broken links
  • Repurpose any top content from Google+ to other platforms
  • Download all data by using the link above

The bottom line

The bottom line is that Google+ has been slowly dying for years and this result is not wholly unexpected. In 2015 it was found that 90% of valid profiles had no content posted. Due to that steady decline, less brands have made use of the platform over the years and often it was an afterthought for most marketing campaigns which makes the Google+ shutdown a minor issue for most brands.

 

Be sure to check back every week for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.

 

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