Social Media

Should Bloggers Be Nervous about Google Plus?

Google Plus is acquiring users at such a rapid pace that it’s impossible not to take notice. Many will point to charts, like the one below, to demonstrate the speed of unprecedented growth.

google plus bloggers 01 Should Bloggers Be Nervous about Google Plus?

I am particularly interested at the speed in which some notable people are shifting their resources and attention to – for a platform that’s less than a month old. Blogger Chris Brogan has effectively left Facebook for Google Plus (which he has already begun to host $47 webinars for), and many others have placed a calling-card avatar to point their Facebook fans to their new digs on Plus.

google plus bloggers 02 Should Bloggers Be Nervous about Google Plus?

I am also surprised by Digg founder Kevin Rose’s move, who redirected kevinrose.com to his Google Plus page. I can understand how critical it feels to be at the forefront of the next big social content network, but I have to ask whether this is a visionary move or a hasty attempt to be first for something with an unknown payoff?

So, what will be the true impact of Google Plus on blogs and the bloggers who blog on them? A few possibilities:

1. Hostile Blog Takeover

It’s a definite possibility that bloggers will decide that publishing full posts on Google Plus is much easier and more practical than maintaining a domain and dealing with the issues that come with blog hosting.

Many bloggers are reporting much higher engagement levels on Google Plus than those found on Facebook or even within blog comments. Some have even suggested using Google Plus as the main platform for new “posts,” which would also be stored in a repository way on the former blog, but no engagement would take place blog-side.

If the previous few weeks are any indication of the quality and quantity of conversations occurring on Google Plus, traditional blogs could be in for a major shake-up.

Probability of this occurring: medium-to-low. There’s the possibility that some will abandon sites like Tumblr and Posterous for Google Plus. I’ve also had feedback from some that are viewing Google Plus as an alternative to Blogger (it’s hard for me to see the comparison at this point). I don’t expect many serious bloggers to abandon their sites for something with no legitimate monetary or ownership payoff.

2. Blip on the Radar

Another possibility is that Google Plus will be no more than another niche tech community, used by few and cared about by even fewer. The initial fervor will wear off, the general public will fail to sign up, and current users will realize that it offers nothing substantially different from Facebook and the existing social treadmill. Companies, spammers, social gamification, and self-promoters will overrun the space and make it boring.

As a result of this scenario, nothing would change for bloggers. Google Plus would become platform to promote content and drive some additional traffic, but not much else.

Probability of this occurring: low. Google is piling on many resources to make this project successful, including shutting down other projects and giving internal employees the opportunity to move to the G+ team (and many are taking it).

3. Something In-between

Google will continue to add features for individuals and businesses to make Google Plus more attractive, but if it becomes a true blogging platform alternative, it may do no more than Blogger has done for Google. Or it may be more successful at helping individuals monetize and gain audiences than existing platforms have done. Right now, the indexation and SEO components of Google Plus are also pretty sparse and true data ownership is nil. Still, G+ has the possibility of being a major contender and source of exposure, as bloggers experiment by posting whole posts to G+, using it as a hybrid for posting media that they wouldn’t otherwise host on their own sites.

Probability of this occurring: high.

So, if you’re considering whether to follow a few bloggers off the Google Plus cliff, it may be wiser to use Google Plus more judiciously than just dumping all of your efforts into it. With few exceptions, you’re better off continuing to focus on blogging where you have complete control (and complete SEO benefits), while building some presence on other shiny new networks like Google Plus.

Note from Ann: Here’s an in-depth post on how to start using Google Plus and a great Google  Plus tutorial as well as this Google Plus social network tutorial, in case you want to give it a try. Here are also a post on why Google Plus might fail.

 Should Bloggers Be Nervous about Google Plus?
Scott Cowley is an SEO consultant by night, marketing PhD student by day. He was previously head of SEO at ZAGG and SEO manager at SEO.com. He speaks and writes frequently about social media and digital marketing.

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31 thoughts on “Should Bloggers Be Nervous about Google Plus?

  1. So should #bloggers be nervous about #GooglePlus? I don’t think so… the #SEO benefits of owning your own blogging platform and the ability to monetize a blog, far outweigh the benefits of blogging on G+… great article, Scott!

    1. Thanks, Donald! Your point about SEO is huge for me, but rarely do platforms become popular (or not) because of SEO alone. I think the monetization factor will be huge and I would expect Google to have some creative things to introduce to G+ in that area.

  2. I’ve never been a fan of this “all or nothing” approach. You can’t abandon one platform for another every time something new pops up. The best campaigns take a blended approach and incorporate the new with the old. A smart blogger can use Google+ to their advantage for as long as it’s relevant, but that doesn’t mean they should give up on other social networks.

    1. I agree, my blog was always on Google (After they bought blogger) but, I still have a link on it to “Like” it in FB. I have to respect all my readers, some who might never leave. I am serving a public. I myself have left FB totally for my ‘own’ uses but find I cannot delete it as even some of my own children have not left, and I want to ‘watch them’ :)

    2. Absolutely agree Nick,

      always remember that very old saying about putting all of your eggs in one basket.

      I actually think that bloggers need to think fairly carefully about the way people perceive blogs and other social tools before making the decision to change. A lot of people (including me) worry about the time they might spend using “social media”, but the fact is that the majority of people outside the tech world actually don’t think of a blog as “social”. I know a lot of people who refuse to use Facebook or Google+ because they “don’t have time for that”, but they will happily spend 2 hours a night reading blog posts and never complain!

      While I see that some people might be keen to be on the crest of any wave that could roll in, for those who are successful in the blogging world, there is another old saying that might be worth considering – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

      1. Many people have discussed whether Facebook is broken or not. I think it is for some people. For me, it has plenty of miles left and Google Plus doesn’t have enough differentiation to make it worth promoting heavily (especially after seeing how much effort it takes just to get people to use a network like Facebook. Thanks, Sha!

    3. I love your comment, Nick, and think it speaks to the heart of the problem with social media. At some point, you have to give up on other networks, or you’ll still be pushing a MySpace profile, but unless you’re at the top of the chain and your brand has been built on blazing your own trail, there’s not much to be gained by leaving the party early.

  3. Great post, Scott!  I’ve already seen a few people on Plus posting in blog-form.  I think in the early stages, anything goes.

    By the way, I think SEJ should add a +1 button…..

  4. Great post, Scott!  I’ve already seen a few people on Plus posting in blog-form.  I think in the early stages, anything goes.

    By the way, I think SEJ should add a +1 button…..

    1. Thanks, Andrew. I agree that “anything goes” at this point in the life of Google Plus. I have to laugh when people get uppity about how others should or should not be using Google Plus, given its newness. Ultimately, I think there are too many benefits to self-hosting a blog that would make me reluctant to post long-form on G+.

  5. I have said it elsewhere and I will say it again…Google + is a late attempt to break into the social sphere.  Google + is too hard to use for the average middle age social medialite and the only reason they have so many initial “users” is because they made it available to only a limited amount of users to start with.  Give it 6 months and Google will pull the plug like they have so many other projects that were knock-offs.

    1. Thanks, Aaron. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for Google+ to be a latecomer. The problem is that they’ve already had two failed attempts in Buzz and Wave, so it feels almost like a “boy-crying-wolf” scenario at this point. Otherwise, leading with Google Plus could have been even better for Google’s chances.

  6. Relying too much on any social network just places all of your content at the whim of the giant corporation that runs it. They can be good tools, though.

    1. Agreed. Of course that’s what people said about Blogger. And before Blogger, that’s what people said about the Internet in general. It’s possible that we over-estimate the amount of control we have over our content (along with its importance), but also that we underestimate the amount of security in posting our content to these platforms.

  7. Like Scott, i was also surprised to know that people consider G+ as another option of Blogging. Well you can post your content on G+ but can’t optimize your G+ profile as you can your blog according to SEO tactics. So, I think we should not stop or leave blogging for G+. Like “Sha” said, all eggs in one basket connected with Like and +1 button.  

  8. Like Scott, i was also surprised to know that people consider G+ as another option of Blogging. Well you can post your content on G+ but can’t optimize your G+ profile as you can your blog according to SEO tactics. So, I think we should not stop or leave blogging for G+. Like “Sha” said, all eggs in one basket connected with Like and +1 button.  

  9. I feel like, both are important. Facebook will not loose much of its users as many feeling comfort with it. Google+ integration with Gmail and other areas are forcing the users to stick to it. So both will be in play pretty much …

    Robin

  10. Well recent news suggests Google plus is losing its visitors and the growth rate is slowing down.. despite the initial craze over moving to Google plus, people are not actively involved in it as much as they are with Facebook. I think it might take a while for Google plus to pose a real threat to FB.. for now facebook FTW!

    1. Google Plus traffic may have slowed, but the time spent on site is still heads and shoulders above Facebook, according to data I saw, which is probably why bloggers are looking at it. Google still has plenty of time to make its mark.

  11. Great post, I think Bloggers should be active on Google + just as much as there other efforts, there are no guarantees and i think we all need to remind ourselves of that.

    1. One of the reasons I think people are leaving Facebook so early is because of the impossibility of being everywhere. If you’re giving 100% to Facebook and Twitter, you can’t just add another 100% to Google Plus and expect to succeed.

  12. Scott,

    I agree with this post that Google Plus hasn’t shown me enough yet to become the new blogger. I feel like in this industry many people jump on new things because that’s what we do we are early adopters.  Google Plus will be the determining factor in whether or not it’s successful. With other Google social media campaigns/failures they can’t just simply recreate something that already exist they must show us what Google Plus offers that other social media doesn’t. If they can do that then Google Plus will be a success, but if not then this is just the newest Google Buzz!

    1. Those are great thoughts, Ty. I listed out the differentiators that Google Plus has and I couldn’t come up with many and those that I wrote down were not enough to get hundreds of millions to migrate.

      One interesting realization came to me when I showed my wife the kinds of things I was posting on Google Plus and she said “Wow. That looks the same as how people use Tumblr.” I think that says it all about who has the most to fear.

  13. I’m not ready to point my domain at Google+ but I’m a huge fan. I think some tweaks to include more blog features (categories, links to my YouTube & Twitter profile, etc.) would be nice.

    I find g+ an additional site/blog/profile that needs maintained but it will likely replace some/many of my online activities if they continue to add filters for the noise and better blogging capabilities.

    Great post.

    1. Thanks, Ash. I can partially understand why many people are already big fans of the platform. It’s still hard for me to imagine using it as a permanent blogging platform, since SEO and ownership are so high on my priority list, but like I’ve told others, I could see it becoming a niche Tumblr-type platform for me to post content that doesn’t have a huge SEO focus.

  14. Thanks for the article!  I think you supply some good advice, especially in your conclusion where you suggest to keep blogging while also beginning to build a presence on Google+.  It’s best to have a few eggs in two baskets.

  15. Great post, I think Bloggers should
    be active on Google + . we all need to remind ourselves of that.