Google+ struggling to remain relevant

Facebook now boasts 1,000 times more Web referrals than Google+, while Google lays out an unimpressive blueprint for its business pages

Although Google has not been forthcoming regarding the number of active users on Google+, stats suggest that the site is failing in its bid to take away Facebook's market share. This may not come as a big surprise to anyone who has been watching the social networking space, as Google has stumbled time and again since the debut of Google+, most recently with its lackluster rollout of business pages.

One data source pointing to Google+'s steady decline comes from Net Applications, which tracks from month to month the number of Web referrals coming from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and Google+. Over the past five months, Google+'s share of Web referrals has steadily dropped, while Facebook's has held fairly steady.

In July, Google+ spawned 0.00354 percent of all Web referrals. In August, the percentage declined to 0.00239 percent. In September, it dipped to 0.00127 percent. In October, the tally dropped to 0.00084 percent. By the end of November, Google+ was a jumping-off point for just 0.00064 percent of all Web traffic.

As a point of comparison, Facebook was accountable for 0.64574 percent of Web referrals in July, 0.62017 percent in August, 0.63913 percent in September, 0.69575 percent in October, and 0.66186 percent in November. As of now, Facebook boasts 1,000 times as many referrals as Google+.

Web referrals alone don't tell the whole story of how successful a site is, though they do indicate a level of user engagement. Plus, advertisers are more likely to sink dollars and resources into buying ads and setting up business pages on sites that demonstrably lead users to their own. Still, it would be useful to know, for example, how many active users Google+ has versus Facebook. However, Google has remained mum on that detail -- a telling move, given the company's purported philosophy of being open.

Google+'s most recent attempt to generate traffic and increase buzz was its rollout of business pages, which from day one paled in comparison to Facebook's business pages. In a recent Q & A about Google+ for business, Google revealed that features that arguably should have been implemented from the get-go are still being planned or merely considered. For example, support for multiple administrators will arrive by the end of the year. Analytics are coming "soon."

The ability to schedule posts or autoposts isn't even technically feasible (a likely reflection of Google+'s inflexible underlying platform). Events integration -- arguably another no-brainer feature -- is "something our team is actively thinking about." That, too, is peculiar and likely a symptom of the platform's inflexibility, given that connecting Google+ with Google Calendar (as well as Google's other array of services) would have made Google+ far more useful from the outset.

This story, "Google+ struggling to remain relevant," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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