What are the reasons for Google+ traffic decline according to Experian Hitwise data?

This article throws some light on the reason why Google plus after getting huge number of members and consequent high hits is finally showing sign of fatigue in terms of reduced registrations and reduced average time on the site. Read on to know what Hitwise- who tracks website traffic says and what might be its future consequences for Google+

Originally published on 31st July 2011

According to Experian Hitwise who tracks website traffic from desktops and laptops there has been a reduction in the traffic growth of Google+ This leads to numerous doubts like if Google+ registrations for the first 3 weeks were only hype or is there something lacking in the data itself? And if the data is correct with Google plus meet the same fate as its predecessor Google Buzz and Google Wave?

After being launched on June 28 Google+ reached 20 million registrations within the first three weeks but according to Hitwise Google+ witness a drop in traffic growth in the week ending 23rd July.

Compared to the week before the week ending on 9th July there was a 821 percent growth in traffic to Google+ and in the week ending July 16th there was a growth of 283 percent traffic compared to the week before. But for the week ending 23rd July there was a 3 percent drop in traffic when Google+ received only 1.79 million visits. There was also a reduction in the time spent by an average user on the site – it was down to 10 percent ranging between 5 minutes to 10 seconds.

Hitwise did not offer any explanation for the drop in traffic and average user time of site at Google+ but we need to wait and watch if this drop in traffic will be a constant phenomenon or is just an aberration. While we wait for the next data we first need to consider some factors for the reasons which might have caused this.

Hitwise data for Google+
The foremost factor that comes to play is that Hitwise only counts traffic from the computers and does not take into count mobile device traffic which is a now a considerable amount of traffic especially for a social networking site and moreover is expected to have a much larger share in the future.

As for now Google+ is only available on android phones and iPhone. Consider the fact that app for Google+ on iPhone was launched only the previous week and in that time has reached the level of being the top most downloaded app (even more than the Facebook app) there are high chances that if we count the users from iPhone that would make up for the 3 percent drop.

Moreover this drop might be only a short blip. Google has gave in a lot of efforts for Google+ and even if there is an already a raised red flag it doesn't mean it is in a downslide mode now. Google+ is still not open to public and Google's action of removing business profile accounts and accounts with no proper name has also obviously contributed to this.

However with the strong integration Google is doing on Google+ plus with its other services and products it has a huge potential to attract many other registration and regular users.

Invite only registration on Google+
Google plus started in a beta phase and is still allowing only invite only registrations. Because of this limited availability to masses people just don't have enough reasons to return to Google+ because most of their friends and the people they follow are still not there.

In simple words it indicates that users are not appreciative of the aura of exclusivity around Google+. This is not some major problem and will be solved very soon as Google makes registration public.

Google+ business profile controversy
Google has rolled out Google+ support for business profiles or websites and has in fact deleted any account it found as not personal profiles. Many such profiles including that of Search Engine land have been deleted and no doubt their owners are fuming.

Google has allowed only a limited business profiles for the test period and that has made it a target of accusations on favouritism like from Search Engine Land editor Danny Sullivan.

However this was the reason why Google launched plus in invite only version, the wanted to better the features of Google+ and in any case their first focus on plus was consumer and not corporate. Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering has already apologized for the matter. He said," We should have anticipated brands and people who want a following would be very frustrated when we didn't have proper profile support." He accepted his fault and offered the explanation that none of their trial models of Google plus predicted such a flood of Corporate, NGO's, brands, websites and other entities who wanted to create their fan following of Google+.

He has also promised that Google engineers are working on this matter to resolve it soon and we can expect business profile support within a month or two time.

Compulsion of real profile names on Google+
This opened a can of worms when Google said that accounts with fake names that includes handles, pseudonyms, group names or even a nom de guerre. There were a lot of complains that profiles even with real names were deleted and some from people who said that in order to protect their privacy they must be allowed to use pseudonyms at least.

However here we need to give Google a break. They are not asking for your legal names and just want to make sure that the profiles are authentic. I have seen some fake accounts with profiles showing scantily dressed girls asking you to visit a link to spam sites. Many of these profiles have strange names and this type of moderation is the need of hour.

If people really had their accounts closed for wrong reasons then now Google has agreed to hear their grievances after the complain pitch reached fevered pitch last week.

Less time for another social networking site
This is the most simple yet maybe the biggest roadblock in the success of Google+. People are already devoting a lot of time to three major social networks which are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook is leading the socializing network with whole families and friend group socializing at one place while also enjoying the various games that Facebook offers. Then is Twitter whose 140 character messaging micro-blogging service has attracted intellectuals and finally LinkedIn which people are using for their professional goals.

Here we have different voices, where LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner says," You introduce Google+, where am I going to spend the next minute or hour of my discretionary time? I have no more time," Weiner said at an event." whereas MySpace founder Tom Anderson says in a guest post of TechCrunch that,"distinct networks can thrive in the market and he doesn't feel social networking is a "zero sum game."

Lack of entertaining applications
Facebook has several time stated this that Facebook users spend a lot o their time playing various games on Facebook. According to their official post Facebook users spend over 2 billion minutes a day playing on the Website. This is where Google+ is right now very lacking. I don't think that they don't have big plans for developing games on Google+ but till then they will have to struggle to keep the users on the site.

Read My thoughts about Google+ after a month of usage- Google+ review

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