On the heels of an announcement that Electronic Arts has withdrawn its hit game “Bejeweled Blitz” from Google+ comes news that game developing company Wooga has declared its intentions to follow suit by removing several of its games from the social network by July 1.
The removal of games from Google+ is the latest blow to the struggling social network and is emblematic of its inability to garner a consistent or significant following. After all, games need people to play them, and clearly Google+ does not hold a market capable of sating the aspirations of EA or Wooga.
But more than just another step back, the loss of features is devastating to Google’s efforts to promote the network; if people weren’t joining before, why would they start just as the bells and whistles are all falling off?
This question informs another – in a market dominated socially by Facebook and professionally by LinkedIn, is Google+ a viable social network?
In spite of a general lack of interested focused toward the network, Google+ is capable of becoming a popular, if niche, online forum.
Google+ allows users to share personal information and pictures with one another, and functions as an avenue of communication via messaging and chatting options. While these features do little to set it apart from Facebook, signing up for Google’s network is not without merit.
One of the defining characteristics of Google+ is its “Circles” feature, which allows users to group its various connections into a variety of categories, such as “family” and “colleagues.” While other social networks include similar features Google+ has taken this compartmentalization model to new levels of effectiveness.
“Circles” allow content to be transferred in bulk, but within defined parameters. For example, messages intended exclusively for colleagues can be readily shipped to colleagues, and only colleagues, with ease.
Likewise, a family reunion can be planned, with invitations going out to no-one but family members, with one click of a button. The functionality of this feature is terrific when considering a Facebook message relevant to 20 people usually reaches 500.
Another benefit of registering for the Google+ network is the SEO benefits it brings. Because profile URLs contain a user’s name, as do profile headings, H1 tags and presumably profile text, Google+ profiles rank high within Google’s own search engine algorithm (as well as that of other search engines).
The SEO impact of Google+ makes people with accounts easier to find online, a welcomed result for professionals or those wishing to produce online content for personal reasons.
While Google+ has floundered as a social network thus far it does have the capability to succeed in an already crowded, yet limitless market. Possessing a defining feature with its “Circles,” a credible name attachment to Google and a slew of SEO benefits, it is too early to throw the towel in and banish the network forever.
It may take awhile (if ever) for Google+ to become mainstream, but even if its limited following mitigates its effectiveness as a communications tool, the secondary benefits of SEO promotion are still useful to certain users, and should not be ignored simply because it has yet to mature into the full package.