Google Plus Chief Vic Gundrota’s recent departure has many pondering the possibility that Google will be phasing out Google Plus. The latest news makes one pause and consider that as maybe more than baseless rumor.
Google has recently announced it intends to remove two components of Google Plus form search results. Those two components are author images and number of people in their circles. Arguably, these features were the reason why many people went through the hassle of setting up Google Plus accounts and authorship in the first place.
It was less than a year ago since google announced linking its authorship program with Google Plus. The benefits of this to everybody who creates content would be differentiation from the “normal” search results.
The two features, the author’s image and social proof via number of people in their circles, would lead to greater click through rate (CTR). That was the exact effect it had for people who used it. So why “fix” what isn’t broken?
Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller made this announcement:
We've been doing lots of work to clean up the visual design of our search results, in particular creating a better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices. As a part of this, we're simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count. (Our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.)
Yes he said the CTR was “similar” and not unaffected or the same. It would be nice to have something a little more objective and quantifiable to show cause for such a drastic change. But then who are we to ask such things of the great and powerful Google?
There’s a logical disconnect between Google’s claim of “similar” results and what users (more than can be dismissed as anecdotal) can factually prove with data. Users have seen CTR rise significantly by implementing authorship in their marketing. The use of squishy terms is what bolsters the notion that Google’s CTR on ads dropping is what’s really driving this decision.
With free user platforms, you are the product and access to you is what is being rented out to advertisers.
This is a problem inherent with using free platforms, you have zero control. It’s a poor business plan to rely so heavily on anything that can change day to day, without notice, and on a whim. Entities like Google, Facebook, etc. have no interest in how their changes affect you. It’s all about how it affects their bottom line. The reality that many don’t want to face: With free user platforms, you are the product and access to you is what is being rented out to advertisers.
What are your thoughts?