Remember a few years ago when Google swore up and down that they were creating the Facebook killer? Google Plus came on the scene, and we all collectively tilted our heads trying to figure out what a circle had to do with anything.
Since its debut, early adopters have tried to convince us that Google+ was fetch, especially for bloggers. However, the word on the Internet streets is that the big G is phasing out its social network. This means Google+ will be dissolving into two separate entities: Google Photos and Google Hangouts.
One reason Google+ left a bad taste in so many people’s mouths was that it was so forceful. Google made it that everyone with a Gmail account had a profile, and even made lurking YouTube users put their government name out there in order to leave comments.
This inflated their numbers, with the tech company stating it had 300 million monthly active users in October 2013. Now, their engagement is down a whopping 97%! How much do you wanna bet that those active users include those of us who only go on to see who added you to their random circle to get rid of that pesky notification in Gmail?
This isn’t the first time Google has raved about a product only to pull the plug on it. Right before Google+ was Google Buzz, which had a small but tight-knit community of users. Feedburner, which was widely used by bloggers around the web, had its API shut down in late 2012. And just last month, Google’s Helpout service got its pink slip with a shut down date of April 2015.
So what does this mean for bloggers?
1. Diversify your traffic sources
For the handful of you who have sung Google+’s praises at conferences and to your blogger friends about how much traffic you get from it, it’s time to spread your traffic around a bit. You should never rely on just one site or one source of traffic for your blog anyway, especially one as wishy-washy as Google, since it seems like they change the rules every single day. Start ramping up your efforts and your presence on other social networks. Some of the same people who you’ve connected with there are elsewhere online too.
2. Migrate to WordPress
With the news of Google+ shutting down, there’s been chatter about what Google product is next to get the axe. Good ol’ Blogger could very well be the next to get the boot. You’ve probably been told that you need to move over from Blogger to WordPress for a host of different reasons, but this should light the fire under you.
As a newbie blogger, the Blogger platform is a great start. But if 2015 is the year to step your game up, you have to move on to bigger and better things. A self-hosted WordPress site allows you the freedom to do more with your site than you could under Google’s strict terms of service and platform limitations.
3. Export your data
Because I was never sold on Google+, I never truly built out an audience on there. I posted links and a couple pictures, but that was it. However, if you’ve been busy, be sure to export your assets. Although the network will be splitting in two (Google Photos and Google Stream), if you plan on learning the ropes for both, you may be fine. However, things like your Insights for your brand’s page, you’ll want to capture those numbers so that you still have something to show for future partnerships.
4. Use Google’s other products
The fact of that matter is, Google is still the Magic Konch of the Internet. So just because this product is going away doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from others. Become more familiar with Google Analytics, start vlogging on YouTube, and play around with Hangouts. Those are products that Google has an easier time convincing people that they work, because they do. What you were achieving on this network, you can achieve on the other.
As of right now, there’s no definite shut down date for Google+. But you should start your strategy to move on from it now rather than later. You don’t want to be the one who gets dumped.