Internet Security News & Views

Why Google+ Could Beat Facebook in the Social Networking War

Google+ VS Facebook

When social networking as a concept was unleashed onto a wider audience, it was largely aimed at young people and of those most were divided between MySpace and Bebo. Then Facebook came crashing onto the scene in 2004 and really there has been very little competition since.

Facebook seemingly offered it all; a way to share photos, interests, videos and opinions easily and quickly. People’s lives are now neatly compacted into Timelines and whatever you had to say, you would say it on Facebook.

Twitter was the only really serious competition but the services it offered were limited and so it was never seriously going to take over. Then in June 2011 Google Plus was launched and although it has had a slow start, nevertheless it does appear to be catching up with over 500 million users worldwide. So can it really take over from Facebook to become the world’s most popular social networking site?

Benefits of Google Plus

When Google+ was launched it was designed as an invitation only site, perhaps hoping to benefit from the buzz that was generated around Pinterest when that site was launched as invitation only. Back then it was better known as Google Circles before adopting the catchier Google+ (or G+) name later on in the year.

The invite only marketing ploy worked and soon the site was forced to open its doors to everyone over the age of 18 after experiencing what they termed as an “insane demand” for new accounts. The age limit was dropped to 13+ in the US and most European countries at the beginning of 2012.

Within Google+ you can organise your contacts into Circles, which means you can have family in one circle, friends in another and work colleagues in a third. This keeps your contacts separate and means that if you do decide to post those holiday snaps of yourself online, you can choose which circles to share them with and best of all, the names you give your circles will not be shown.

You can also filter what appears in your stream from nothing, some things, most things and everything. This stops your stream from becoming clogged up with irrelevant items.

Hangouts can be used to engage in group chats with one or more people, up to a maximum of 10 which is extremely useful for business conferencing or merely chatting with groups of friends. Other features include instant messaging, instant uploads, games, communities and so on.

Google Plus for Businesses and SEO

Word soon got around that having a Google+ account could improve your SEO in Google search results, especially with the Google Authorship feature. This verifies author identity, making it easier for writers to claim content they have written and for users to search for content written by the same author.

Other Google+ Business Tools include private sharing, administrative controls and integration of Hangouts with Gmail and Google Calendar.

Businesses also discovered that their Google+ profiles added credibility to their search result profiles with their latest Google+ activity also shown along with their profile picture.

Google+ Local is aimed at smaller businesses who want to show up in Google Maps and local searches.

Google Plus Privacy Issues

The beginning of 2012 saw the first rumblings of concern over Google+ and privacy issues. The concerns centred around the fact that Google, in its wisdom, added photos, posts, profiles, updates, etc from Google+ accounts to search results. This was great for those who used Google+ on a purely professional level as they saw their SEO results improve thanks to the inclusion of their profiles in search results, however many others were disgruntled that their personal information could now be freely searched on the internet. This also led to accusations that Google favoured its own social networking site over competitors such as Facebook.

Google say that users only see the social content of friends if they are logged into Google+ and only information you have made public will appear in those search results, so your holiday snaps could still be safe for now.

Some aspects of your Google+ profile can be used for advertising purposes such as the +1 option. If you +1 a comment or a post then this information is made public and can be used for ads. Essentially this means that if you +1 Preston Bike Shop then should one of your friends search for bike shops, Preston Bike Shop will feature higher in their search results and your +1 will be shown.

Users can hide the +1 tab on their profile if they want this information to remain private.

Google also came under fire for linking existing Picasa web albums to user accounts as many photos were made public that users had not intended to be so.

Google+ Privacy Settings

As with most social networking sites you do have some control over who sees what on your profile. With Google+ you can decide if anyone is able to see who your friends are, restrict your personal profile information and reduce the visibility of individual posts in your stream.

Going into your profile and then privacy settings does give you a choice of settings that enables you to make your profile as private or as public as possible. Options also appear every time you post an update so you can choose to make it public or seen by those in particular circles only, thus it’s easy to control who sees what.

Google still feels very ‘grown-up’ when compared to the likes of Facebook but it’s also easier on the eye, uncluttered with ads and doesn’t feature those annoying game requests. It might be a while before the younger generation switch but for businesses and those who are tired of the inane chatter of Facebook, Google+ is a welcome sight/site!

– The Omniquad Team

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