Now that spring is technically over and the leisure season is slowly settling in, Google celebrated Google + ‘s 3rd birthday by rolling out updates to their Searche Engine Result Pages (SERPs), Google + Local Pages, Google Drive and YouTube. Some of these changes lead people to believe that the big G is trying to kill Google +, others are saying that it is already dead, and there is yet another group who thinks that this will help boost it forward.
Which is the right assumption about Google + ? Let’s examine the facts first:
First of all, in a pursuit of cleaning up the visual design of their search results, especially for mobile devices, Google removed authorship photos and circle count from the snippets in the SERPs. This came as a shock for people who created a Google + account solely for that purpose. This and the company’s silence regarding G + on their annual Google I/O, made many people question the future of the social platform.
On the other hand, Google keeps showing authorship photos in some rare cases but these cases make all the difference. Let me explain thoroughly. If you are logged into your Google + account and make a Google search, the so-called ‘personalized’ or ‘private’ search, you can still see authorship photos of people or brands you have in your circles, provided they are relevant for you.
What does relevant mean then? If you have engaged a lot with a particular person or brand on Google + through discussions, shares, hangouts, etc., then that person or brand is more relevant for you and you will see their photos in the SERPs. Moreover, content from such sources will always rank higher for you in your ‘private’ Google search.
This comes as a great incentive for businesses to engage and talk with customers on Google + rather than just making a page for the authorship. Being more engaged and having large discussions and hangout sessions on G + will now yield even better results as you will get the preferential treatment from Google towards your followers.
There was also a change in Google + Local Business pages which can now be linked to a brand page. There is no more need of having two pages just to have your Google Maps listing. Thus, this update seems to be more than needed and comes to prove that G + is far from dying.
Then there is a huge number of updates to YouTube as well, some of them are even already present. In an effort to make video creating easier and faster, Google added a new Creator Studio linked directly to your Google +. The studio comes with a lot of managing and editing functions, even on mobile with Android and iOS apps, 60fps (yeah, I know that’s a lot) support, audio library with thousands of free sounds to use, fan funding for viewer donations, fan contributed subtitles, creator credits, new info cards, and new ways to create playlists. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?
And yet that is not all! This week they rolled out a new bigger player and changed the Inbox for YouTube. Yep, the old filled-with-junk Inbox is gone, we now have a new Messaging utilizing the power of Google +. In order to use it a YouTube creator must have a connected G + account but the benefits of doing so are really immense. The Messaging feature comes with threaded conversations which are easier to get started and with included spam protection. There is also filtering function that helps you see only the comments from certain groups -like your subscribers, or only the most popular ones, or just ones from a specific video. You can also do a search for keywords and hashtags in your comments.
Google Drive’s Sheets and Docs got updated too and now offer a lot of collaboration between different people. With this release, you can also work on any document, at any time, on any device, both with and without an Internet connection. In their strive to connect all their services, you can now sell digital products using Google Drive by setting PayPal to accept payments and Gmail to deliver them immediately. This makes having an online business presence and using all of Google’s services together even more enticing.
So these are big updates, huh? Furthermore, all of them are interconnected in an attempt to improve your Google + experience. Even Larry King, in an interview for The New York Times after the Google I/O , when asked about the future of G +, said that everyone on Google is excited about how tremendously the social network is growing and how passionate its community is.
After all of this evidence, I think the answer is pretty clear. Google + is neither dead, nor dying, if anything it’s getting bigger and better. What do you think, am I right? Tell me in the comments below, I would love to discuss it with you.