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Google+ Usage & Traffic Slows as Buzz Dies Down

Danny Goodwin
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Google Plus Social ProjectSince last we checked in on who is using Google+ and how often, a trio of conflicting reports have been released, giving us an updated, though unclear view of the popularity of Google’s latest social project based on traffic and user estimates. Here’s a rundown of those reports, as well as other recent Google+ news.

comScore: Google+ Hits 25 Million Visits Globally

Since launching June 28, about 25 million people have visited Google+. Here's the breakdown by country, according to comScore:

  • 6.44 million from the U.S.
  • 3.62 million from India
  • Roughly 1 million from both Canada and the UK
  • 920,000 from Germany
  • More than 780,000 from Brazil
  • About 500,000 from both France and Taiwan

Mobile numbers aren’t included in these stats – which, to be clear, are visits, not necessarily Google+ users. Just a week earlier, comScore reported 20 million visitors to Google+ in its first 21 days, meaning Google has seen an additional 5 million visits.

Users are also sticking around longer, comScore reports. Usage (defined by comScore as the number of days per week that U.S. visitors used the service) increased 11 percent for the week ending July 24, which isn't as impressive when compared to the 39 percent engagement surge for the week ending July 17.

Hitwise: Google+ Sees Traffic, Engagement Drop

Visits declined by 3 percent and the average time users spent on Google+ fell 10 percent for the week ending July 23, according to recent Experian Hitwise data. Visits to Google+ declined from 1.86 million to 1.79 million, while time on site decreased to nearly 5 minutes, 15 seconds, down from 5 minutes and 50 seconds for the week ending July 19.

Google, however, responded to the report by saying Hitwise is unable to track mobile traffic and engagement from the Google+ bar (the new black navigation bar).

Hitwise also noted a 9 percent increase in upstream traffic from Gmail.

Chitika: Google+ Traffic Has Eroded & Possible Explanations

chitika-google-plus-traffic

Google+ traffic declined by 34 percent between July 20 and 31, according to search advertising network Chitika, which has been tracking Google+ traffic since early July. Chitika reports that traffic to Google+ increased 300 percent between July 3 to 11, and peaked at .007 percent of total web traffic on July 20 before entering its first declining period.

However, Chitika says it’s still too early to draw long-term conclusions about Google+, which is still in beta and only available by invitation. Said Chitika: “If Google continues to integrate Google+ across its vast mix of services, remedies some of its issues and bugs, and opens its borders to public use, perhaps Google+ will resume its upwards trend of growth.”

Google+: What’s the Buzz?

Among the tech crowd, buzz definitely isn't as high among the hundreds of sites I track. Google+ launched to a flurry of stories, many of which were ready to crown Google+ – the latest new, shiny object and “Facebook killer” – the new social networking king after a few hours.

Many writers have anecdotally noted that usage is declining among those in their circles, and there are still tech-savvy holdouts who don’t see the benefit of joining another social network when they’re perfectly content with Facebook, Twitter, or both – and it should be noted that Google+ still trails other social networks like LinkedIn, MySpace and Tumblr. This chart from VentureBeat puts the social media landscape into some perspective:

google-plus-social-rankingChart created by VentureBeat

Despite the slowdown, Google+ is the quickest site to reach 20 million users – not that “fast” necessarily equates to “best” or even guaranteed success. It took Google+ 24 days, while Facebook took 1,152 days and Twitter took 1,035 days. Also, as Ron Schott discussed in “Google+ Strategy: 5 Tips to Help Marketers Get Ready for Brand Pages,” marketers should be checking out Google+ now and devising a strategy for when Google opens the doors to businesses.

What Else is New in Google+

Here’s what else has been making headlines in Google+:

  • +1 Button Gets 3 Times Faster: In response to concerns from website owners that that placing the +1 Button on their site could hurt page loading speed, and as a result search rankings, Google announced an update to the +1 button that makes it load three times faster, and introduced a new asynchronous snippet to help the web pages continue to load while the user's browser downloads the +1 JavaScript.
     
  • Preview +1 Button Changes: Google has announced that webmasters can now enroll in Google+ Platform Preview to test updates before they launch. The first update includes hover and confirmation bubbles.
     
  • What’s New in Google+: Rather than creating another company blog, Google+ has created a help section called What’s new in Google+, which basically offers quick feature updates. The most recent involves circle reordering, which lets you click and drag your circles until they’re in whatever order you desire.

 

  • Business Profile Analytics: When Google brand pages launch, which is expected to happen during or shortly after Q3 2011, “You can expect to see a level of analytics and measurement that you’d typically find in Google products as well as a nuanced approach to how things are shared. It encourages and enhances conversation, it doesn’t just put things in the stream,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat.
     
  • Games Stream: A Google+ help page accidentally revealed upcoming plans for social gaming (”If you’re looking for updates shared from games, check out your Games stream.”). After SlashGear published the story, Google removed the reference.

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