Featured Google Social Media Social Networking

Mandatory Google+ Accounts Dropped: Beginning of the End?

Google app launcher

Just a few years ago, when Google first launched its fledgling social network, Google+, hard sells abounded. Most notably, since January of 2012, any new Google account automatically had to create a profile on Google+. Whether you signed up for Gmail, Calendar, Google Analytics, or any other related tool, a Google+ account was mandatory.

This strong arm tactic didn’t bode well for much of the community. Yet Google didn’t much care. They continued to give high value to active Google+ businesses in search rankings, and it looked like the world was forced to embrace the social network, or risk damaged search rankings or no access to Google’s other tools.

Quietly, and rather mysteriously, Google has lifted this requirement. Now, when new users sign up for any Google service, they have a (gasp) choice regarding whether or not a Google+ profile is generated. It’s an easy one-click approval to launch into Google’s social foray, but it isn’t forced upon the user.

On the surface, this may simply be a reaction to pacify unhappy users who felt forced to join the Google+ party. Or it may be a strong statement from Google that social networking is no longer a game they wish to competitively play. What’s the future hold for Google+? That’s the question of the week.

No Matter How You Slice it, It’s a Smart Move from Google

Google is no stranger to decisions that are met with anger and disgruntled users. One classic example is the integration of YouTube comments and Google+, which elicited a firestorm of protest. Triggered a year ago, this particular controversy has quieted, but it’s hard to say how pervasive the damage was.

Google+ has been the antithesis of a slam dunk since it launched, with various reasons users did not embrace the network. At the forefront of the frustration, however, was the overwhelming opinion that users were forced to adopt the platform, especially if SEO was at all a priority. Rather than create a service that people used because of delicious features and effectiveness, Google went the “use it or else” route.

The decision to lift automatic Google+ accounts is a positive regardless of what Google’s motivations are. The web is uttering a resounding sigh of relief. When you give power back to the people you serve, it may seem like a risky move (staying in control feels so much safer as a business), but ultimately, longevity requires you to please the masses. So score one for Google that they finally lightened up.

Does it Mean the End for Google+?

The big mystery on everyone’s minds now is whether or not this is a play by the tech giant to get out of the social networking space. Since Google+ has never really materialized as a Facebook
killer, folks have speculated the demise of the site almost since it launched.

The truth is, this one small but significant move does not directly communicate that Google is throwing in the social towel. It may very well be a decision based on user feedback and opinion, and not at all reflective of their commitment to Google+.

Those that assume it is indeed a fatal blow to the network also cite April’s big news that Vic Gundotra, the proclaimed Godfather of Google+, stepped down from his post. And just a short month ago, Google stripped the Google+ authorship information from search results, giving more fodder to those assuming it’s lights out for the social network.

For Google to truly let go of this extremely expensive and high-profile service will require nothing short of a catastrophic event. In all likelihood, Google will continue tweaking the service, accepting partial defeat in that it’s currently not a Facebook competitor. But looking at Google+’s actual stats, it’s clear to see it is NOT a complete failure. By any other standards, the site has done very well. We should all have such usage and traffic metrics!

Services like Hangouts are still clearly being improved upon and elevated, and they are essential parts of the Google+ experience. Perhaps this new move is more about creating a priority of retention over acquisition, as the previous model of forced registrations clearly didn’t engender loyalty or interest. If this is Google’s intention, it’s a very, very smart move. There is still a chance they can turn Google+ into a usable, popular social network, but forcing users to love it wasn’t the path to greatness.

Three years is a long time in Internet time, and Google has learned a lot since the social platform launched. Part of the secret to Google’s longevity is the ability to act quickly and intelligently to user feedback. Maybe the “quick” part doesn’t apply to the Google+ response, but better late than never. If they refocus efforts on pumping up features and usability on Google+, rather than straight registration numbers, there’s still hope that the social site can become a much-loved and valuable aspect to the Google family of services.

What’s your opinion about this bold new move? Is Google+ being reworked, or abandoned all together?

About the author

avatar

Tina Courtney

Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile

35 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Every product from Google are often subjected to trend up and down because a lot of other social media also are popping up.

    Along with the development of new social media it seems like google will continue to improve the performance of any products that it generates

  • Google+ have a bright future and if Google take interest to make it one of the most popular networking site then it can be possible that Google+ replace Facebook and twitter.

  • I’m hoping that they are simply dropping it from being mandatory. G+ is like Las Vegas without the people – it’s actually pretty cool and does help tremendously with search.

    Considering Google practically invented search, perhaps it’s not too much of a leap to consider using one of their products – G+ to augment this – it’s hardly a difficult thing to implement.

  • Thanks for taking the time to explain the possible impact of this. I have never really found google + to be useful or relevant and look forward to a cleaner google experience in the future.

  • I like the way they have integrated all the google plus services with one google+ account. It is very useful and user friendly for my custom leather work business to be able to easily access youtube, G+ personal, G+ page and “My Business” all with one sign in through my google plus account. Over the last few years of integrating all these services, it has become much better. I assume with the change, another email address will have the same access to all accounts at once.

  • Google banned Google Play dev account and my google wallet for showing a photo of a girl in a bikini, they didn’t turn off my Google+ Account…..seems like they need that too much their selective-ness is BS. They suck right now.

  • The funny thing is that G+ is way better than Facebook! Topnotch jQuery effects, great design, flawless coding! Every time I’m on G+ I’m impressed of how good job they’ve done! You can blame Google for a lot of things, but not for not making the best products! Every product of Google is working FLAWLESS! Impressive works, competitors should take notes… Cheers.

  • I like Google+ and have used it as a means to socialize and learn about marketing and developing new online friends. Forcing anyone to do something they think is unecessary was a bad choice by Google. Trying to fix it now is a step in the right direction.

  • Yes, we were ‘forced’ to use Google+ at the beginning and that hurt. Then, when we saw simple G+ posts ending up on page 1 of a search we saw the point of it all. Now you say that this is being dismantled? Can’t quite follow the logic…

  • Google+ for website owners seemed for a long time an absolute MUST for positive rankings in serps. I wonder what the impact will be in the long run as related to results positioning and if it will carry as much weight in the future as it does now.

  • I, for one, am tickled about this development. I noticed that I had this option just yesterday while trying clean up some of my client accounts as a matter of fact. I always felt that the whole G+ thing was forced on users way too heavy-handedly and have to agree with Paul above that this IS a good move – on several fronts – for Google. It was just one more thing to try to keep track of and cause problems when all I wanted to do was setup an email or Youtube account.

  • GOOGLE+ is here to stay and will never be FaceBook or Twitter. It will be different and maybe its “community” lies with the SEO-Obsessed types that are REALLY after super-Optimisation of their websites & profiles.
    I’m glad they reversed the rules on the Youtube comment policy as it made US stop COMMENTING altogether on Youtube for a whole year and stop posting on it, unless it was for a client. THAT’s how much I was shocked by their decision. GOOGLE+ should be a kind of Local Yellow Pages of the web and actually serve communities locally on the ground. If they manage to do that, they will reverse their all-domineering image back to being “From the (web) surfer by the surfer” G+

  • Google is still gaming its own SERPs in so many other ways, including NOT having and using algorithms that can clearly apply their own anti-gaming SEO algos to promote its own content (see EU Google trials). Hum. A real world-wide ongoing mess, including those European actions more capable of deciphering this american corporation wanting in all ways possible and impossible to rule the (…) world. A good sign that things come and go so to evolve out of coercion.

  • I signed up for Google+, but it is not as easy to use as FB and hangouts have never worked for me. I don’t have the ram, the Windows which seem to make it a better thing.

  • What would be really nice is if Google either shut down its highly destructive spam ad server or went back to having an honest search engine. Google considers ethics irrelevant, and they get away with that.

    If search engine users would just see the obvious–that Yahoo, Bing, Duck Duck Go and many others provide a search experience vastly superior to what Google has deteriorated into–Google would have to drop Panda and Penguin and go back to providing something worth using.

  • Although I signed up upon birth of Gmail+ I never used it. Until now.I think it is the best thing since Al Gore invented the Net.
    I’m old and not into Facebook much and don’t broadcast my business to the the world and believe Twitter and FB are potentially dangerous and have found G+ an outstanding source of both info and a creative outlet.

  • The problem is that everyone already has twitter, facebook, tumblr, instagram, etc, etc, and the great social media fad has lost all of its luster. Those 2 are the monsters of social media and making another is just beating a dead horse. Making Google+ mandatory also likely had an effect because if you make something mandatory it is a natural reaction to want just the opposite. Other than that, when I happen upon a google+ page I pretty much say, “WTF am I looking at here. I don’t have time for this…”

  • ur kidding about bing yahoo and that duck thingy to be superior search experience – if that was the case, they would easily kick Google butt.
    two things: when I search the “alternatives” mentioned above, the search results seem keyword based and mostly irrelevant to my search, ie the results suck.

    2) my seo web design clients can be #1 in yahoo/bing and #5 on Google but Google leads they get are far superior in quality and quantity. Top SERP Google beats the others hands down (in my experience anyway. I don’t even bother to rank for those guys anymore. it’s really useless, and easily manipulated like Google pre panda/penguin etc))

    That said, who wouldn’t want to Google+??? if you’re on the GD web your broadcastin’ fr’crissakes.
    Google is the 800 lb Gorilla. Feed it or die.

  • Great article. I’ve asked myself as a small business owner often, is Google + just another info gathering source for the mothership. It’s probably the single mist useless but must have on the internet for Seo purposes.

  • Thanks all, for your fabulous comments – glad to see everyone is as happy as I am about the mandatory lift!

  • I don’t give a hoot about Google+ anyhow. I hope it disappears. I’ve been disgusted with Google’s strong armed social tactics from the beginning. As far as I’m concerned, it can go the way of the dodo bird!

  • Good Move, now the people who are not related to SEO or the online marketing field can opt to have or not to have a G+ Account.

  • The funny thing is that Google plus is way better than Facebook! Topnotch jQuery effects, great design, flawless coding!Only interface is the exception but not for all.