Google Phases Out Google+ Even Further – Or Does It?

Google has dropped Google+ links and reviews from its search results.

This move isn’t exactly out of left field, as Google started phasing out of Google+ months ago. In June, the search titan stopped requiring users to have a Google+ account in order to use products such as YouTube. Bradley Horowitz, the company’s vice president of streams, photos, and sharing, even wrote in a blog post, “People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity for all the other Google products you use.”

Google has taken this dissociation with its social media platform one step further. The change was initially spotted by a poster on the Local Search Pros community, who noted the absence of links in local searches.

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“Google put tremendous resources behind Google+, even going so far as to tie employees’ bonuses to its success,” says Jonathan Rick, president of the eponymous D.C. digital communications firm. “But lately, Google+ seems like the uncle who you have to invite to Thanksgiving, even as you gently suggest he might be more comfortable elsewhere.”

For being such a huge corporation, Rick commends Google for its restlessness, “Always testing, introducing, and ending products as if it were a start-up.” Still, he points out that anti-trust concerns combined with the platform’s relatively poor performance probably made it easy to further phase out Google+.

Amir Zonozi, chief strategy officer at influencer engagement platform Zoomph, points out that if Google were trying to get rid of Google+, why wouldn’t the company just do it? Shortly after decoupling the social platform from its other properties, Google introduced Google+ Collections, which creates categorized streams of posts by topic and allows users to create and follow specific topics of interests. Additionally, Google+ got a new logo recently.

Zonozi doesn’t think Google is phasing Google+ out, but rather, figuring out how to repurpose it.

“Remember Google Buzz and Google Wave? I don’t think it’s that category yet,” he says. “Google took them to slaughter, but it seems like with Google+, they’re still giving it a chance. It sees some sort of active audience, so it doesn’t want to close the doors just yet. [Google is] still putting energy into it. If you look quickly, you might think that it’s on its way out, but they’re keeping it alive because it is reaching a certain demographic.”

At the same time, Zonozi acknowledges that Google+ has completely pivoted from being the social platform it once aspired to be. He thinks Google is just trying to maintain its audience while it tries to figure out what exactly to do with the platform. Eventually, he could see it reemerging as something comparable to a Pinterest-Reddit hybrid.

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