I have a confession to make—I didn’t realize I still had an active personal Google+ account until this weekend.

If you’re anything like me, Google+ never became as entrenched in your daily life as other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Linkedin. With the recent data breach, of which up to 500,000 users have been affected, it came as no surprise that this once social network competitor was officially done.

ICYMI! A security bug allowed third-party developers to access Google+ user profile data since 2015 until Google discovered and patched it in March, but decided not to inform the world. Almost half a million users’ full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status were potentially exposed (TechCrunch).

 

Google+, Google’s biggest failure?

Every major tech outlet is reporting on this announcement because it’s a big deal in the space. I have to admit that I wasn’t completely surprised by the news of the downfall of Google+, but I knew businesses and agencies alike were going to be affected.

Sometime between 2015 and March 2018, Google experienced a significant data breach where third-party developers were able to potentially access personal Google+ profile data due to a software glitch. At this time, Google has found no evidence that any developers were aware of this, or that they abused it. But Google chose not to reveal any of these details and they did not notify the social network’s users. It’s crazy to think that almost half a million Google+ users were potentially affected but because of two-week time limit on logs, they can’t confirm any affected users.

 

Google+ to officially shut down in August 2019

Alongside this data breach, an extensive review was conducted which determined that Google+ had a very low usage (duh, I could have told you that) and even lower engagement. According to Google’s blog, 90% of Google+ user sessions lasted less than five seconds. Given their inability to meet consumer expectations and the low usage, the consumer-facing Google+ will completely shut down by August of 2019.

It’s interesting to note that Google will keep the social network for enterprise customers to use within their organizations.

 

Co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses. We will share more information in the coming days.

Ben Smith

VP of Engineering, Google

 

How will this affect SEO?

I can almost hear agencies and business owners alike thinking,

“How is this going to affect my business’ SEO?”

“What does this mean for the work I’ve done in the past for my business, as well as my clients?”

In short, unless you were a heavy Google+ user, which by the sounds of Google’s own report on usage is extremely rare, this will have a very minimal (if at all) impact on your business.

In the past, Google+ did have an influence on your local search—personalization was heavily used where someone who follows you on Google+ is more likely to see your post in search results. But, earlier this year even Google admitted that there is very little search personalization, so with Google+ sunsetting there is virtually no impact (SearchEngineLand). Not only is there no personalization, but there is also no direct impact on rankings as Google+ had previously been pulled out of Google Local and Google My Business.

Key Takeaway: All in all, the removal of Google+ will have a minimal impact on your SEO. If you weren’t using Google+ frequently, or at all, then expect the change to happen with little or no impact on your businesses.

 

How will this affect social media strategy?

If your sole focus on social has been a Google+ kinda strategy, you are definitely missing out! With low usage and even worse user-engagement, Google+ should have been only one of your many, many social tactics. Now that it’s gone, you can refocus those efforts on more prominent social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram.

Don’t feel bad if you’ve used Google+, lots of businesses do! Just note that the social media platform itself was likely not delivering as much value to your business as other social channels like Facebook would.

As an agency, the main thing to do now is to alter your collateral—if you talk about posting to Google+ in all your sales pitches, now is the time to change your story!

 

Goodbye Google+: Agency action items

Okay, so now you know that there is no impending disaster. Google+ will disappear as quietly as it arrived and you can breathe. As an agency, here’s what you should do next:

  1. Remove Google+ from your social media bar and/or website:

    Get ahead of the curve and start removing these for yourself and your client's websites—today. Nothing would be worse than getting to next August and having dead links on your website.

  2. Optimize your Google My Business Listing:

    While the changes to Google+ won’t have an impact on your SEO, making sure your GMB listing is claimed and verified is the first and extremely crucial step in any local SEO strategy.

  3. Look into SEO alternatives:

    Google+ shutting down may not affect your SEO, but there are a lot of factors that will. Do you know all of them? Can you stay on top? The Vendasta Marketplace has solutions that can help you with your SEO strategy.

  4. Re-evaluate your social strategy:

    Focused mainly on Google+, it’s time to diversify! Explore the other social networks and if you need help the Vendasta Marketplace has a white-labelled digital agency trained in social media management.

  5. Finally, wait for updates!

    Google added that “Over the coming months, we will provide consumers with additional information, including ways they can download and migrate their data.” If this is important to you, make sure you’re following along, otherwise, you can take the path that many are and delete Google+

Google+ is gone: The need to knows

In case you didn't have time to catch up with the entire article, here’s my TLDR:

Google+ is slowly shutting down and will completely cease to exist for consumers by August of 2019. Why? 

  • Because Google made a big oopsie. It’s not cool to accidentally share the private information of 496,951 Google+ users and intentionally not tell anyone about it (TechCrunch).  

How does this affect you as a local business?

  • Your SEO won’t be affected (phew) but you’ll need to re-visit your social strategy.

How does this affect you as an agency?

  • It’s a good time to provide your clients with other SEO services, stress the importance of Google My Business (over Google+) and wait to hear about further updates from the gods at Google.