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Since its release in 2011, Google+ (which is sometimes called Google Plus) has received a lot of attention and hype. The search engine behemoth Google wanted to enter the social media world and go beyond it. Google+ does far more than social media, it carries SEO weight as well. It has been said that it is the intersection of social media and search engine optimization. It is integrated with many other Google platforms including Gmail, YouTube, Google Analytics, and of course Google Search. It has immense possibilities. That being said, there have been half-whispered rumors that Google is going to do away with it – I’m going to address some of the causes of these rumors.

The Removal of Authorship Images

One feature that is adored by the masses is Google Authorship. By connecting your online content to your Google+ account you can establish Authorship. Authorship is a way to be seen as an authority in your industry. Your Google+ profile picture was displayed beside content you have written in Google Search results along with an author bio. All this changed On June 25, 2014, however when Google’s John Mueller announced that they were “doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results” – meaning there will no longer be pictures. This was a major selling point and for many there is now less incentive to link their published content to their Google+ profiles.

AnonymousFake Names Now Allowed

Google+ initially required individuals to use their real names and they received a lot of backlash for this. Not everyone who is online wants to or is at liberty to use their real name (think political refugees, social activists, those in the witness protection program, etc.). Google+ recently changed to let users edit their name, be warned though – this new name will be used across all Google products. This change has been received positively by most, but some wonder why Google backed down. Since when does Google apologize and make amends?

Google+ has a Hard Time Driving Traffic

Marketing Land referred to Google+ as “not a ghost town, but a social referral graveyard”… that may seem a bit harsh, but this table courtesy of Shareholic paints a grim picture:Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Referrals table

There are more reasons to use Google+ than for the traffic it generates (or fails to generate), but this is still a bad sign. In certain circles (no pun intended), +1’s are the norm and Google+ generates a lot of traffic, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Many companies are looking to Facebook and Pinterest for referral generation.

These are just three reasons why some people speculate that Google+ will be discontinued. With so many features to offer, from Google Hangout to Google+ Communities, it seems like too valuable of a tool to let slip by the wayside, but only time will tell. At Big Leap we have employees with a broad range of skills, but sadly none of us can predict the future. Personally I think Google+is here to stay. What are your thoughts on the future of Google+?

Jamie Bates
Online Marketing Director