We’ve previously blogged about the importance of having a Google+ account for your law firm, despite the fact that the platform never gained the traction of other popular online offerings such as Facebook or Twitter. The biggest benefit to having an active Google+ account were the SEO benefits and the subsequent impact on search rankings.
This fall, Google announced that, following a security breach, Google+ will be shutting down over a 10 month period (culminating in August 2019), leaving many to wonder, now what?
The Trajectory of Google+
Google+ launched in 2011 and was intended to offer a rival platform to Facebook- it included a “stream” (like Facebook’s Newsfeed), and a hub of personalized content. You could share thoughts, ideas, photos, anything. Specifically, the product was intended to be both a “platform layer that unified Google’s sharing models”, and a platform/app in its own right. Google poured significant resources into Google+, hoping to push its widespread adoption.
For a time, having a Google+ account was a necessary prerequisite for using other Google services including Gmail and YouTube. When this failed to gain traction, Google began to walk back this tactic, before eliminating the requirement for users to tie their Google+ profile to other Google services in 2015.
Despite the delinking of Google+ from other Google products, the platform continued to function and, along with Google My Business, became an important factor in adding behind the scenes SEO value for pages that were using it.
Google+ and SEO
Some tech insiders speculated that Google tried to artificially create the illusion of usage of Google+ by placing higher SEO value – this was never addressed. Regardless of whether or not Google had any such motives, it was clear that having a correctly set up and optimized Google+ (and Google My Business) account positively impacted a site’s SEO, and by extension, organic rankings and search results.
Both Google+ and Google My Business were used far more often than most people realized. Most Google users actually interacted with Google My Business every time they conducted a Google search for an organization on their mobile device or computer.
Why the Shut Down?
Google has admitted that Google+ failed to achieve the broad consumer adoption since its introduction and that the consumer version of the product had low usage and engagement (as compared to other platforms).
The company pointed to
…the significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations. Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we decided to sunset the consumer version of Google+.
A Post-Google+ World: Now What?
Google has noted that an “enterprise” version of Google+ will continue to be available for those using Google+ within their organizations to engage in internal discussions in a secure network. This pivot to an enterprise solution will be Google’s focus as they wind down the consumer version of Google+.
In terms of SEO impact, an enterprise version of Google+ being used internally would not impact search rankings. What then can law firms do to fill the void left by Google+? The answer may be to focus on other platforms, including Instagram, which is rapidly moving from just being a place where social media “influencers” share photos, and becoming a platform sharing where information, such as blog posts and other articles can also be shared.
At Umbrella Legal Marketing we will be doing our own pivot to focusing on alternate platforms, like Google reviews, as methods of optimizing search rankings. Over the next few months as Google+ winds down, we will be ramping up our clients’ presence across other platforms and in reviews in order to maintain visibility and results.
As always, we will continue to monitor trends in the digital space and will provide commentary on why and how this may impact lawyers and law firms. In the meantime, if you have questions about how you can maximize your presence online, help use social media to your advantage, or use content marketing we can help.
At Umbrella Legal Marketing, we understand the unique needs of the legal market, the ethical and practice standards that govern the profession, and how to effectively combine these specific demands with the realities of marketing in the social media and online age.
If you would like to learn more about how we could assist you please contact us online or at 416-356-4672.