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On April 24, Vic Gundotra—head of Google+—publicly announced that he was leaving Google. In addition, many sources report that Google plans to move between 1,000-1,200 Google+ employees to other divisions of the company.
Marketing Land reports that a Google representative has vehemently denied these claims. “Today’s news has no impact on our Google+ strategy — we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts, and Photos.”
The Google+ Strategy
“I love Google+,” said no one ever.
From the very beginning, most people saw the social network as an attempt to compete with—or even kill—Facebook. But just like Canada started a country and nobody came, Google started a social network and nobody came.
This didn’t stop Google.
Google was so intent on making its social network successful that CEO Larry Page tied 25 percent of Google employees’ annual bonuses to the success or failure of its social strategy in 2011.
What once started as an invite-only social network turned into something you had to have to even leave a comment on a YouTube video (much to YouTube founder Jawed Karim’s chagrin).
This “forced” Google+ integration into other Google products was just the tip of Google’s attempted social media takeover.
The ever-so-sloppy transition from Google Places to Google+ Local was a marketer’s nightmare. But our hours spent on the phone with Google support and weeks spent waiting for verification postcards was all-too-necessary. Not having an optimized Google+ Local page meant getting left out of Google’s local search results—which often appeared before organic results. Plus there were all those correlations between Google +1s and organic rankings.
What Happens Next for Google+?
If Google really does choose to eliminate Google+, what will it mean for your business? When Yahoo acquired Vizify in March, the company gave its users one month to archive their profiles.
But even if the company gave users time to archive their profiles, how will organic search and local search be impacted? Google takes every opportunity it can to remind its users that it doesn’t use Google+ data to boost search results (or any other type of social data, for that matter).
If we take a leap of faith and assume that Google +1s really don’t help in organic search results, that still leaves the question of what will happen to local search results, which are strongly integrated with the social network.
It’s impossible to say what’s going to happen with Google+. If I was you, I’d at least save any reviews you want to keep in case things start to disappear or revert back to old platforms. We all know transitions are not a strong point for Google.
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