According to Experian Hitwise, a well-know New York- traffic measuring company, Google+ saw a slight decline in traffic last week. Although almost certainly not a reason for concern, could public interest in Google+ be softening?
After milestones and encouraging numbers, this week brought nothing but bad news for the service: a decline of about 3% in hits from 1.86 to 1.79 million, as well as usage time, which fell by 10%, from 5 minutes and 50 seconds to 5 minutes and 15 seconds on average. Over the previous week, the amount of hits had increased by 283%, a rather impressive number even for a brand-new social network.
These numbers might be bad news for the just-launched social network but they’re far from dismal. In reality, Google+’s growth over the last month has been impressive, beating the estimates of most pundits in the tech field. Within weeks of any product’s launch, however, its coverage and usage are expected to soften. If the product turns out to be successful, traffic should pick back up over the next few weeks and months. Google+’s success will now depend on how Google markets and enhances it over the next few months, in order to keep its user base excited and coming back to the site. The introduction of new features could provide the product with some media coverage, which by itself would generate traffic, and marketing could broaden the product’s appeal.
Google+ is currently an invite-only service, requiring new users to be referred by those already using Google+. Opening the service up to all remaining users could give the product a temporary boost, although likely not enough to ensure its continued growth. More work will be needed on Google’s part, which perhaps is already under way, according to recent reports of findings on the social network’s code that point to a social gaming feature in order to compete with Facebook’s success in this sector.
Google’s CEO Larry Page has shown a great deal of enthusiasm for the service when speaking in public, like he did earlier this month. If Google makes the right choices over the next few months, Google+ could indeed grow to become a credible alternative to other major social networks. Hopefully the company has learned enough lessons from its previous social networking failures, such as Google Wave.
You can learn more about Google+’s feature set in our write-up here.