By now you’ve heard the announcement that “Google+ is dead.” Besieged by reports that Facebook had more users (true), more engagement (also true), and longer visit lengths (very true), Google+ has been on some kind of death watch for more than year. And with its project leader resigning, clearly it signals that Google is ready to admit defeat and send G+ to the farm upstate where projects go when they’re deemed too ineffectual at driving ad revenue.
And that’s all true, assuming you have a very narrow view of Google+, one that presumes G+ was a Facebook competitor and nothing more. If you take a step back and see what G+ was really doing, you’ll understand that its value remains — even if it can’t hold a candle to Facebook.
Google+ is a lot of things, but its real job is to get more people to help it find and rank the value of web pages.
What? Yes. Google+ was a Trojan Horse that looked fun like Facebook, but really existed to get you to tell it what pages were good and where they were. It was launched to look and feel like a true social network (and millions of people used it that way), but that was never its real purpose.
This means that Google+ never needed Facebook-like numbers to succeed. It only needed one user: Google.
Google used Google+ to hear what pages and sites were popular with users. Otherwise, it had no way to get input from non-webmasters as to what content was valuable. And since Google makes billions of dollars because you and I know that Google is showing us the best content when we search, it is incumbent on Google to get our input to remain the top search engine.
Need further proof that Google is still serious about Google+?
Authorship. In order to prove that you wrote a web page, you need to list it in your G+ author list. Authorship confirms that a page was written by a person and not a machine or company and Google gives SEO weight to pages with authorship. This is also the fastest way to tell Google that a new site or page exists to get it added into its list of places to spider and index.
G+1. You won’t notice fewer links to “like” a page with a G+1 button. This is your way of telling Google this was a useful page and that it should take that into account when ranking the page in search results.
SEO Value. Google+ is the only social network that Google allows to factor into its search rankings. If Google listened to people posting links on Twitter, Twitter would be awash in spam links and pretty much worthless to you and me.
AdWords. Just last month, Google launched a program where popular users can promote G+ via AdWords. Since AdWords is where 99 percent of Google’s income comes from, this is no small indicator.
What does this mean for talent acquisition? While there isn’t much hope of using it as a social network, it is still useful in generating awareness of your content and traffic from Google. Make sure all your blogs and content pages have a G+1 link on them to make it easy for people to tell Google about you.
Smart and savvy digital talent acquisition professionals will leave Google+ on their content strategy pages. And, for those who were holding off putting them in place until it was clear Google+ was a valid Facebook competitor, it’s a good time to jump on board.