When Facebook was launched I decided not to join up. It just seemed like another website to waste my time entering data into, uploading pictures and then never use. But suddenly I found that I was missing out on events, news and parties because everything was happening through Facebook and I wasn’t part of it. So I joined up, got sucked in for a while, checked it 20 times a day, changed my status, uploaded pictures etc. After a while the novelty wore off a little and now I just dip in from time to time, but it’s still a great way to stay in touch and connect with people without actually having to ‘get in touch’ with them.
Then there was Google Buzz and just as I decided to start using it, it seemed to vanish. People found Google Buzz difficult to get into because you couldn’t categorise the people you were following. It also had a big security flaw when it was launched that opened up Google Profiles to outside people so that they could look at who your contacts were and who you were chatting with most, so many people were sceptical about getting involved and it got off to a slow start. Also, with most people already using Facebook and Twitter, a lot of people thought ‘what’s the point?’ Google Buzz was around for a little over a year before Google announced that they were going to shut it down. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time.
And now there is Google+ and I wonder again whether there is any point in spending time setting up circles, uploading photos, making comments etc if it’s just going to be another flop. Especially as I’ve been using Facebook for over 4 years and already connect with so many people. And it looks more ‘techy’ than Facebook and less user-friendly. And I wonder if I’m grownup enough for it.
But this time apparently it is different. Google have introduced Google + slowly this time, concentrating on privacy and control as a fundamental part of the project and it’s looking like this project is here to stay.
Google+’s homepage has all the similar features to Facebook; posts, images, photos, links etc. The main difference is that Google allows you to categorise your friends, so that you can choose who you share information with. When you create a post in Facebook, everyone you are friends with sees it (hence the stories of people getting fired after their boss sees their comment about how boring their job is). Another strongpoint is that uploading your photos is much easier and quicker, and this is something that lots of Facebook users often complain about. Again, you can share your photos with just your family or friends and make sure that your work colleagues don’t see those embarrassing night out pictures, or your friends aren’t bored by photos from a work event.
A few more features that they have been slowly introducing are ‘Huddle’ where you can chat with lots of people in one window and ‘Spark’ where you tell Google your likes and dislikes and Google sends you information on these chosen subjects.
Google +1 is similar to a Facebook ‘Like’ in that when you ‘+1’ a website you are sharing with your circles that you like a website or story. If someone that you know recommends something then you are more likely to visit the site and Google knows this only too well. The real difference in this feature is that Google will be using this data for very different reasons to Facebook, because they can then use this information to give Google+ users the search results that they ‘think’ are most appropriate for them. Of course it is very early days, but it could definitely prove a bit of a headache for us SEOs, seeing as we have no control over who is ‘+1ing’ what. What this does mean for us and our clients though, is that the sooner they have a +1 button on their site, and the more people they get to +1 them, then when Google does start seriously using this data for search, they will definitely be ahead of the game.
And it seems that Google have already started using +1 in their algorithm. In an experiment by Rand Fishkin it seemed that simply by clicking the +1 button for a page, it’s rankings were altered and it went from half way down page 2, to number 6 on page 1.
So I have I answered my question? Is Google+ ‘Facebook for grown-ups? Ana Hoffman (Self-made Internet Marketing, blogging and SEO Specialist) says:
“I would love to see Facebook remain a “family” social network, and Google+ gear more towards business professionals, sort of like LinkedIn, just with more dialogue. From SEO perspective, Google+ is priceless and we can’t afford to ignore that. All the initial signals indicate that G+ actions, like shares, +1, etc. might become an active ranking factor in the near future”
So I think that yes, at the moment that is what Google+ is. I don’t think it will take over Facebook, but it will become more important, especially to professionals and businesses. Especially seeing as Google have announced that they are to release their business pages earlier than originally planned. So I will get into Google+, but at the moment, possibly more with my ‘SEO’ hat on rather than on a personal level. And then we’ll just wait and see.