Indie Authors – Is Google+ Dead?

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

As we step into 2013 I thought I’d start the year with a social media post, this one asking the question Is Google+ Dead?  We all know that indie authors need to stay on top of social media in order to connect with our readers and hopefully help a few books.  And there are a lot of social media platforms…how does one keep up with all of them?  If you’re familiar with my blog, you know I tout Twitter and Facebook fan pages (see Promoting Your Books for posts on these topics), but what about Google+?  Heck, Google is a huge force, but is their social media site any good?  Is it worth the time?

Indie Authors – The Beginning of Google+

Google+ roared out of the gates in June 2011, and the buzz was that it would replace google plusFacebook as the social media site you needed to be on.  I wrote a post for another blog about Google+ versus Facebook, this but it has a malicious link so I will give you the highlights here:

Google+ had the distinction of getting to ten million users faster than any other social networking site.  Pretty impressive, right?  But, and here’s the key, they were not able to sustain this.  According to a number of articles, Google+ traffic fell by as much as sixty percent in the first few months after its launch.  Speculation was that people ran to Google+ because it was the new kid on the block, but few users saw any reason to stay.  That doesn’t say much for Google+.

A damning piece in the whole drama of Google+ versus Facebook was that it became public knowledge that only three of Google’s top management team even used Google+.  And these users apparently rarely ever posted on their own site.  That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, does it?  Like or hate Mark Zuckerberg, but he has his own Facebook account, and he likely knows at least some of what users like and dislike about Facebook.  It doesn’t sound like the same can be said of Google+.

To further compound their problems, a post from a Google+ engineer surfaced in which he ripped his fellow workers for not understanding platforms:

Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product. But that’s not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there’s something there for everyone.

Check out this wonderful article for this Google insider’s rant on his own company.  It is truly fascinating.

Add to all that the Time on Site metric:

When someone visits your Google+ page or your Facebook page, you want them to spend time on your site, not just bounce off it right away.  And here’s the problem for Google+: they are no competition for Facebook.  Statistics indicate that people spend up to three times more time on Facebook than Google.  This means more chance for ads to be clicked on, more chance for users to engage with you as a fan page owner, and more chance for you to get people from Facebook to your website or book selling page. And with the ability to automate some of your tasks, an opportunity to make connections and possible sell books.  Google just doesn’t do this.

Indie Authors – Is Anyone On Google+ Anymore?

google+ is a ghost townWell, it’s 2013 and Google+ didn’t replace Facebook.  It looks to me like Google+ is a ghost town (like that picture – I took that before we summited Mount Sherman).  As I researched articles for this post, I saw many user comments saying that people were not using Google+ anymore.  People seem bored with Google+ and here are some of the reasons:

  • Facebook had the games first
  • Facebook allows you to add friends to special lists, so you don’t need circles
  • Facebook has photo syncing
  • Everyone is already on Facebook, so why switch to something else

The one thing I see that people like with Google+ is Hangouts, but people complain that it is buggy, which negatively affects the user experience.

Indie Authors – Should You Bother With Google+?

Funny, after giving all those negatives about Google+ you’d think I’d say don’t bother with it, but I actually think there’s some benefit to Google+.  Some might like it as their social platform…personally, I’m not active on Facebook or Google+ from a personal standpoint, but I continue to actively use a Facebook fan page.  But there is a big reason why I think indie authors should still use Google+.

Indie Authors – Google+ And SEO

If you don’t want to be active on Google+, but you want people to find your website, blog or books, it’s a good idea to be active on Google+ because of the SEO.  Using Google+ can help get your website or blog a higher page ranking, if you do a few things:

  • embed links to your sites, posts, etc.
  • use keywords in your content
  • provide relevant, interesting content
  • use keywords in your Google+ about page
  • get people to Plus One your posts

The Daily SEO Blog has some wonderful tips in this post.  I also wrote a post about Google And Search Plus Your World that has some important points on Google+.

Indie Authors – More on SEO

Some people think that SEO isn’t worth it, or that it’s dying out.  I don’t think that’s the case.  SEO is constantly evolving, just like the book publishing business is constantly evolving.  If you want to be at the head of the class, in either, you have to stay on top of the changes.  I’ve seen the results on my blog and website.  Since I’ve created both, and worked hard to use the SEO tips I’ve learned, I’ve seen both sites improve a great deal.  When I search on certain keywords (best of film noir, for instance) my blog comes up on the first or second page of Google.  Something must be working here :).

Maintaining a blog can be hard…but just a little work on Google+ can certainly help.

Tell me what you think…do you use Google+?  And don’t forget to plus one (the red Google button) posts that you like…it only takes a second and it’s paying it forward :)

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Indie Authors – Is Google+ Dead?

  1. u.v.ray says:

    Tried G+ for a few months when it was first launched. It is rubbish. Far too convoluted. I eventually deleted my account there.

  2. Amy Keeley says:

    I have never much cared for Facebook’s interface. Asking people to pay them so that your posts are more likely to appear on the dashboards of others who have clicked the “fan” button on your page (even though they asked to see those posts) was the final straw for me.

    Reasons why I use G+:

    * I write fantasy and there’s a lot of fans of SF/F (with some horror) on G+.
    * I’ve discovered I like the one-stop shopping having a Google account gives you.
    * I like the interface better than FB. Much, much better.
    * The Communities aspect makes finding friends a lot easier than it probably was before on G+. I’m part of a few now and the people I’ve added to my circles have come from those Communities.
    * I like that I don’t have to “friend” someone in order to keep up with someone’s posts/updates.
    * Unlike FB, I haven’t encountered any bugs. (I still haven’t heard back from FB about my inability to navigate the rest of the site. When I click on someone’s link to their FB page, I get taken directly to mine.) G+ has worked beautifully for me, without fail.
    * The games on FB annoyed me. I’m so glad G+ doesn’t have them.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      That’s interesting, thanks for sharing what you like about G+. It’s hard to keep up with all the social media and I’m glad G+ is working for you.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. This is partly a “Know Your Audience” question. Google+ isn’t exactly a ghost town for me; I have the same problem keeping up with my newsfeed there as I do on Facebook (though admittedly I don’t spend a lot of time on either site every week).

    I’ve heard the comparison that Facebook is the place where you keep up with what your real-life friends are up to, and Google+ is where you find other people like you. To that end, there’s the new “Communities” feature, which makes it a lot easier to find people from all over who share your interests.

    Relevant to indie authors, Guy Kawasaki started a Google+ Community around his new book about self-publishing, Authors, Publishers, and Entrepreneurs, posted an invite on Twitter and 1500 people signed up. Some weeks later, there’s still quite a bit of activity:

    There’s no real reason writers (or readers, for that matter) must choose between the two sites. Just because people really did abandon MySpace for Facebook some years ago doesn’t mean that pattern of fickleness will ever happen again. If the goal is finding your audience, you just have to stay attuned to their habits. And make sure you’re in the Google Authorship program.

  4. Susan says:

    Interesting! I just recently starting posting my blog posts there, mainly wondering if it would help with SEO and google. Sounds like it just may, and for me, that may be enough reason to take the extra minute each day to link my posts there. Thanks for your research!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Glad it was helpful. Based on some other comments here, I might have to give it a bit more of a look, but it’s difficult to keep up with it all :).
      Thanks for your comment.

  5. LJCohen says:

    G+ is far from a ghost town in my experience. G+ is my virtual water cooler where I can connect with an engaging and articulate community of writers. I don’t use it (or any other social media) primarily for promotion. I found it stole too much time from my life and creative process for too little return.

  6. A.K.Andrew says:

    I use G+ mainly to +1 other people’s blogs and to connect with other writers and bloggers by including them in my circle (& vice versa). It’s part of building my author platform but I don’t hang out there & don’t use it at all for personal stuff. Google still rules the roost in terms if search engines so it makes sense to have some presence there. Btw, I always find yr blogs helpful Renee- pls keep them coming. Thanks!

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Thanks for your comment. It’s definitely good to +1 things for folks, and I’m seeing in comments that some find G+ great, so that’s awesome to hear.
      Thanks for your comment about the blog, too; I sometimes wonder if it’s doing any good, so it’s nice to hear that people do get something from it :).

  7. Thanks for the interesting post. I’m on GooglePlus but don’t post frequently. However, I checked out if my posts have an influence on people finding me and my website. I entered one of the keywords on Google and lo and behold, reference to my post appeared on the first side. Not bad.

  8. I joined G+ when it first popped onto the scene because there seemed to be a large writing community forming. And, at first, I had a lot of interaction with others but because I used both FB and Twitter extensively, I found it hard trying to keep up and scaled back my use of G+. Before I knew it, I “forgot” to check the site for months and when I finally remembered to check in, I instantly noticed my timeline was not moving. Many people in my circles had deleted or abandoned their accounts.

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