Google to close Google+ after 7 years: A look back at the impact it once had on Google search

Just about seven years ago, Google launched its own social networking site named Google+. On Monday, Google announced it will be closing down the consumer version of Google+ in the coming months as it disclosed a privacy bug.

Google said “the consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement,” adding that “90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Google+ and +1 button ranking influence? Before Google+ rolled out, Google launched plus one buttons for websites in 2011. It hinted those buttons were one of many ranking signals used for search quality and rankings. Over the years, Google pushed back on that, and as Google+ grew (or shrunk), Google said it did not use Google+ or plus ones as a ranking signal. It was a hot topic as studies showed evidence both ways.

In any event, with Google+ going away, you can rest assured that Google+ and +1 buttons will have no impact on rankings going forward. So this case is closed.

Google+ did influence some search results. Google+ and +1 buttons did show up over the years in Google search. With Search Plus Your World Google would personalize your search results based on what your Google+ friends searched for and clicked on. Google would also show your personal assets, such as your photos, emails, flights, etc based on your Google+ account directly in the search results. These days, Google barely uses personalization in search, as it recently admitted.

Google also showed Google+ posts in real time search when Google Real Time Search was a feature Google had.

Google also suggested that searchers take conversations to Google+ over the years. This was Google’s way of trying to drive conversation on its social network. Google would highlight Google+ content in search results and in Google News, even by showing you what is being discussed on Google+. You would see Google+ show up all over the search results early in the days so often that it became a joke in the SEO community.

Let’s not forget about the heavy local search integration between Google+ and Google Local results. In fact for a time, Google+ pretty much replaced Google Places, the old name for Google My Business.

Google+ had a long, slow death. As adoption lost steam over the years, Google slowly stopped pushing Google+. I saw fewer and fewer Googlers posting on Google+, at least the public commercial version. We saw Google subset Google+ features like ad integrations, saved searches, Google+ in knowledge panels, Google local edits and old Google+ pages.

In fact, we rarely covered Google+ announcements or changes over the past few years because it was a product/service that was out sight and out of mind.

Google said it will wind down Google+ “over a 10-month period, slated for completion by the end of next August, ” adding that, “Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.”

For more on the Google+ bug and additional security measures Google is taking in response, see Google to shutter Google+ following undisclosed privacy breach on our sister site Marketing Land.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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