Google+ is on its way out and will be taken offline by August 2019. A massive security breach is a part of the decision to pull the plug on Google+.
Knowing that personal and financial information is safe online is a key concern for Internet users these days. So, when Google announced their social media platform, Google+, suffered a security breach that included information of 496,951 users and their contacts (1), there was a reasonable amount of angst and concern. Google said they had found no evidence pointing to the misuse of personal information. Yet, because of the security issue and an overall decline in use, Google+ will soon be a thing of the past.
Why is Google+ Plus Shutting Down?
While the decision to end the Google+ seven-year run did not come as a shock to everyone, there are still those wondering what happened.
Here’s some key reasons why Google Plus is shutting down:
- Lack of Use – Google+ started out in 2011 with high aspirations; it would be a new social media platform its creators believed could out the original Facebook, as well as Instagram, Pinterest, and others. The initial response to Google’s social media site was positive but quickly waned. A recent report from Google said that 90 per cent of Google+ users spent about five seconds on each engagement (2).
- The Security Breach – In March of 2018, Google learned that a glitch (that began in 2015) existed in the Google+ system which exposed private information of nearly 500,000 site users and their contacts. Rather than inform the public of the issue, Google kept the news quiet until an article in the Wall Street Journal broke the news in early October. It comes as no surprise that this move sparked an enormous wave of criticism that speaks to the heart of the inherent trust necessary to make e-commerce and social media work.
The Announcement to Shut Down Google+ Provoked Two Primary Responses
Indifference – Even though Google+ was built to compete with other social media such as Facebook, it never gained the same degree of traction that other outlets enjoy. Some users and former users of Google+ are quite apathetic especially because even Google+ execs were not huge users of the platform. As far back as the inception of the platform, there was low use of Google Plus. This led to the attitude of ‘if those who created this social media site are not using it, why should I?’
Concern – Those who frequently use Google+ are understandably worried about the impact of the pending shutdown. Those who link their businesses as a part of Google+ are especially fearful, given the fact that social media and responses from customers on social media impact Google’s algorithm and where a business lands in search engine results. For those businesses who struggled with search engine optimisation, an announcement such as this is a harbinger of doom.
What Does This Mean for SEO?
Social media has a role in Google’s SEO algorithm. When your social media accounts link to your business website, a layer of trustworthiness adds to your site’s standing on the search engine. A growing social media presence can boost your ranking.
The impending shutdown casts concern on the accounts and SEO standings of the Google+ platform. Shutting down Google+ is the equivalent to pulling the plug on one of the lamps in your office. You will not be alone in total darkness, but you will likely notice a difference.
Other Concerns for SEO
Even though the impact of the shutdown of Google+ on SEO has not surfaced, one area will absolutely feel the impact from the closure. If you have a Google+ account, you most likely have a link to the account on your business web page. After the shutdown of Google+, you will have broken links wherever you had placed those links.
While this is not the most disruptive news ever, in the highly competitive world of the online marketplace, you cannot afford the haphazard look of broken links.
What Happens to Google’s SEO Algorithm in Light of the Closing?
As with many algorithm-related details, Google is not tipping its hand. There are a couple of potential scenarios we may see in the coming months.
- Social media presence could no longer be part of Google’s SEO ranking, or be significantly reduced (unlikely)
- Google places more importance on the E-A-T aspect of SEO (highly likely)
Based on The Uncertainty of What Google Will Do, Should I Make Changes to My Site?
Because Google is not releasing information about the Google+ shutdown and potential impact on SEO, every action you take at this time is purely speculative. You do not want to base the future of your search ranking on a knee-jerk reaction. Alternatively, you should not put your head in the sand and hope for a good outcome.
What is the Best Way to Protect My SEO Rankings?
There are a few things you can do at this time that can help you stay on top of your SEO ranking and mark any changes.
- Increase your vigilance. Be sure to monitor your site rank frequently, so you are aware of any changes.
- Stay tuned in to all of the available information that you hear about the site closing and potential changes to the algorithm. However, carefully research sources, because not every rumour or tidbit of information is worth your time.
- Hire a reputable firm to watch over your SEO rank, stay ahead of any changes, and adjust your website information as needed based on reliable information.
Can Hiring Someone Really Help My SEO?
The short answer to this question is, yes. If you are currently tasked with nurturing your SEO, then you understand how much effort is necessary to do a great job. Trying to juggle SEO with your other vital duties in your business can be difficult. It is easy to let small details slide.
While the changes at Google are unsettling, resist the urge to panic or overreact. Above all, if you are in over your head, consider hiring SEO experts to keep your ranking safe. Having an SEO expert on your team will make a huge difference, both in the quality of your SEO, and in how much time you have to devote to other parts of your job.