Google+ is being shut down four months earlier than initially announced after a second data breach, according to a new announcement by Google. Additionally, all Google+ APIs will be shut down within the next 90 days.

Originally, Google announced it would be shutting down the service in August 2019. The decision came shortly after it was discovered the platform had experienced a data breach affecting 500,000 users.

In November, it was revealed a significantly more serious data breach had occurred, affecting more than 52 million users.

Now, Google+ is scheduled to be shut down in April 2019.

While the data breaches appear to have affected a relatively large number of users, the company says there is no need for concern because there is no evidence of misuse by third-parties.

“No third party compromised our systems, and we have no evidence that the developers who inadvertently had this access for six days were aware of it or misused it in any way.”

Even if third-parties did gain access to the information made public, the company says breached data only included profile information which had been set to not-public. No financial or highly sensitive information was breached.

According to Google, the bug in the API which led to the data breach would not have given anyone access to data which could be used for fraud or identity theft.

“The bug did not give developers access to information such as financial data, national identification numbers, passwords, or similar data typically used for fraud or identity theft.”

Google+ is dead. Long live Google+.

Google announced it is retiring the “classic” Google+ we all know and replacing it with an all-new updated version with several big updates. The company says it is aiming to please users with several of the most heavily requested updates from the Google+ community.

”With this latest round of updates, we believe the new Google+ is really your Google+— designed around your suggestions, requests and needs. It also means it’s time to say goodbye to classic Google+ on the web, which we’ll be turning down on January 24.”

Here are a few of the things you can expect when the “new” Google+ launches on January 24:

Hide Low-Quality Comments


Google+ will begin to automatically bury low-quality comments that its algorithms deem non-conductive to conversation. It’s hard to know how exactly the function will work, but you can opt to leave the “low-quality comments” visible to everyone if you desire.

Putting Content First


Google+ is aiming to trim the fat with its new update by reducing the amount of wasted space on the screen. Instead, it aims to put the focus on content with more images that you can even zoom in on.

Events Make Their Return

Events disappeared from Google+ some time ago, but the ability to create and join events is coming back. However, the company says it still needs to refine Events based on user experience, so expect it to be a work in progress when it launches.

“And Much More”

While Google is relaunching Google+ on the 24th, they say their work is far from over. “Our aim is to make Google+ the best place to connect around the things you care about,” the company says. Google is encouraging users to give their feedback and help shape the new Google+ as it takes shape in the future.

Google Authorship

Google+ has been a controversial and underwhelming social media platform mostly populated by profiles made out of obligation in order to use Google’s services, but this will change soon as Google announced Google+ will no longer be a requirement for services across Google’s network.

Since Google made their social platform a requirement for all other services across their site, including Gmail and YouTube, there has been a strong pushback from users. The negative reaction was especially prevalent for YouTube users, who were forced to create new Google+ pages if they wished to create a new video channel.

In the announcement, Google conceded making Google+ mandatory for all users may have been a mistake:

“When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink.”

Over the next few months, Google will be uncoupling Google+ from all services. This means all it will take to access any Google products or services is a simple Google account. Once this is complete, users will be able to use YouTube, Gmail, or Google Analytics using a traditional Google account.

For users who were already pushed into making Google+ accounts, you will soon be able to remove it, although Google didn’t provide any more details about how or when.

With this change, Google+ will now be completely optional. This may be good news for users, but it will be interesting to see how the platform handles the shift. Many have already proclaimed the social network is dead, but it is entirely possible setting it free from the rest of Google may finally give the platform a chance to grow with only members who want to be on the social network.

Google Authorship

It can seem like the entire world hates Google+ sometimes, but in reality the social media platform has carved out a niche audience that has stayed loyal over several years, and recent changes have given the platform a strong presence in local search results.

As Google has upped the presence of “local packs” or groups of local results on searches that appear to be geographically linked and this has given businesses with Google+ profiles a big step up in visibility.

Google+ gets beat on for not having near the number of daily active users as sights such as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, but it is not going anywhere soon simply because of how useful the site can be. Now Google+ has made it even easier to keep the most useful information in a prominent location on your page by pinning the most important posts at the top of your feed.

You can use this to keep business information such as contact numbers or location info in a highly viewable place, but this can also be extremely useful for bringing attention to sales, special promotions, or any other big events coming up for your business that you want the public to know about.

To pin posts, just click the drop down arrow at the top-right corner of your published updates and select ‘Pin post’ as in the example below.


The feature has already rolled out on desktop and Android but, in typical Google fashion, iPhone users will have to wait until they decide to share the feature with iOS.

Google Authorship

There was a time not too long ago when every SEO professional felt confident proclaiming that Authorship was the future of search, but it appears the predictions couldn’t have been much more incorrect.

When Google was pushing Authorship as a part of their search system, it frequently repeated that authorship information would help users identify more trustworthy sources and improve the quality of results. In the end, it was ultimately little more than a picture and name next to content and was often ignored by users.

This problem was reflected in the confirmation by Google’s John Mueller that authorship information will be entirely stripped out of search results. In the statement, Mueller explains:

“Unfortunately, we’ve also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing Authorship in search results.”

If we are being honest, the vast majority of Google users probably won’t even notice a difference and site owners shouldn’t be too concerned since Authorship didn’t help increase traffic to pages. But it has received considerable attention from the online marketing community because it seemed like a common sense and simple way to improve listings. In the long run however, it just didn’t work.

Mueller did clarify that Google will continue focusing on structured markup, saying: “This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and they’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.”

Every week we try to keep you updated with all the SEM news from around the web, but the Google I/O event this week was packed full of so much information there was bound to be some stuff we didn’t get to cover. Today, we’re going to cover all the latest news from I/O and everywhere else. We’ll start with Google, but there is also some interesting Facebook news to discuss near further down.

Android Reaches 1 Billion Active Users Per Month

To open the annual I/O developers conference, Google rattled off an impressive list of statistics, as large tech companies tend to do. Of these statistics, there is one that was noteworthy and shows just how prominent smartphones have become throughout the world.

At last year’s conference, Sundar Pichai told the audience that Android had around 530 million active users per month. Over the past year, that number has almost doubled, surpassing one billion active users every month.

Other interesting stats include:

  • Android users send 20 billion texts per day.
  • They take 93 million selfies per day.
  • Android users take 1.5 trillion steps each day.
  • They check their phones 100 billion times per day.
  • Android tablets represent over 60 percent of all tablets shipped.

If you’re wondering what everyone is doing on their phones, you can be assured that it involves apps. comScore released a report this week showing that over half of all digital media time is now spent using apps, though its unclear whether more time is spent on Angry Birds or The Wall Street Journal’s news app.


Google Will Remove Author Images From Search Results


Google is continuing to push an emphasis on authorship authority, but don’t expect to continue seeing author images in your search results for much longer. In the next few days, Google will be stripping the author images and Google+ circle counts from desktop and mobile search results in an attempt to streamline search result appearances. In the announcement on Google+, John Mueller said:

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Danny Goodwin from Search Engine Watch shared an example showing what the results looked like before (shown above) and what they will look like in the very near future (below).


Google is Testing Their Domain Registry Service

Google has expanded into seemingly every facet of online activity, but up until now they have left domain registration to other service providers. That won’t stay the case for much longer as Google recently announced they will be inviting a limited number of people to test their new service called … wait for it… Google Domains.

As the shockingly creative name suggests, Google Domains will let users search, find, purchase, and transfer the domain or domains best representing their business. The service is still being built, which is part of why you shouldn’t expect for it to come out of testing in the close future. But, the service could potentially make the act of creating a website and establishing a company presence online much more easily understandable for the 55% of businesses that still don’t have websites.

Google My Business Comes To iOS and Android


Google announced Google My Business earlier this month, and on Wednesday the official apps for the service came out on both Android and Apple smartphones. The apps offer a unified interface that will make it easier to manage your brand’s online presence on the go. App features include:

  • Edit the business listing by changing hours, description, etc.
  • View managers of the page but not manage them
  • Post to Google+
  • Add photos and update cover and profile photos
  • View local insights and analytics
  • Change business pages and accounts

Watch Now Now Influences Facebook News Feed Video Rankings

Facebook is constantly working on its News Feed algorithm and the latest update is intended to improve the quality of videos being served to users. The new video ranking takes note of how long users watch a video for and uses this information to influence content ranking. This metric will be combined with other long-standing metrics such as likes, comments, and shares.

In the announcement, Facebook said, “In our early tests, this improvement resulted in more people watching more videos that are relevant to them.” The announcement also noted that twice as many people watch videos on Facebook compared to the numbers from six months ago.

Wait, So Facebook is Still Popular With Teens?

You’ve undoubtedly heard the rumors, studies, and proclamations that Facebook is losing traction with teens like a car driving off a cliff. From what everyone wants to believe, all the young kids are moving to the burgeoning messaging apps to escape the prying eyes of their parents and lame extended family. Even President Obama has commented that kids “don’t use Facebook anymore.”

The problem with all this is, the numbers don’t entirely support that conclusion and two reports from the past week confirm that Facebook is still the most popular social site for the demographic by far.


First, Forrester Research released a report showing that more than 75% of US online youth use Facebook at least once a month. Their survey polled 4,517 internet users between the ages of 12 and 17, and that Facebook has twice as many users as Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, and more than Instagram and WhatsApp combined.


The second study, from college and K-12 education review site, Niche, found similar results from a survey of 7,000 teenage users. Specifically, 87% still use Facebook “occasionally” and 61% use it daily (including the 47% who use it “a few times a day.)


Google has been making some big changes to help businesses increase their visibility on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ by connecting business information across all of Google’s services. Google is calling the interconnected service Google My Business, which is set to be a one-stop shop which will allow users to access all their applications in one place.

The service will help deal with duplicate entries across Google products by asking users to entire their information one initial time, then populating it into all of Google’s services at once. TechCrunch also reported that “owners can post news events, photos, and other updates they want shared with customers” in an apparent bid to rival Facebook.


Once you’re signed in and Google has guided you through a tour of the platform, you’ll see a screen that houses your basic information that will appear on Google+, Google Places, and Google Search. From now on, you’ll be able to update business information such as store hours, phone number, or your website URL in one easy to access location.


Beyond that page, you’ll be given access to the the really meaty parts of the update. From one screen, you’ll have control of your Google+ profile, from which you can share new text, photos, links, and events. You can also explore Insights, which will help you analyze your visibility, engagement, and audience. This screen also lets you manage your reviews, quickly access your Google Analytics dashboard, and even start a Hangout with the click of a button.


Notably, this update has already gotten a mobile launch on Android, and it appears the iOS version of Google My Business will be released n the near future.

Google My Business makes it easier than ever for small businesses to take control of their own online presence and helps level the playing ground so that any company can benefit from being online. You don’t have to be a well-established brand to make yourself visible online.

local-businessBusiness owners have more reason than ever to claim their Google+ business pages, because Google has finally decided to connect business pages with local listings on Google Maps.

The change allows business owners to have a more coherent presence across the web as well as improve the ability of searchers to find them. The process connects your current page to Google Maps and applies the business information, including the business address, the Google Maps reviews, business hours and more from to your page.

A large number of businesses have more than one Google+ page listed in their Google+ manager page, so this will also help clean up the clutter by combining at least two of these pages.

Google explains in detail how to connect your Google+ business page to your Google Maps verified listing on the help page, as well as instructions for creating a local page if you have yet to add your business to Google.

Pages that are newly connected to maps will display the name and verification badge from the former local page, as well as showing the business information such as hours of operation and phone numbers. The pages will also show reviews from the former local page, but will not show prior owner responses to local reviews.

Source: Jason Howie

Source: Jason Howie

Marketers have overwhelmingly confirmed that social media is a highly valuable target for campaigns of all shapes and sizes, but you have to be able to effectively aim your message. If your social marketing strategy is out-dated or unfocused, then it will never gain traction on any of the major social platforms.

Social Media Examiner recently released its annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, based on surveying more than 2,800 marketers. If you want to make sure you are up to date with the state of social media and guarantee you are sending out the right message to the right people, you’ll want to know these important trends highlighted by this year’s report.

1. Blogging is Back – It should be obvious by the widespread cries of “Content is King!” over the past year, but blogging is all the rage yet again. The report shows this blogging is only going to get more popular looking forward as 68 percent of marketers said they would be increasing their blogging efforts. That is the most attention blogging has received since 2010 according to the report.

2. Facebook is Showing Its Age – Compared to the relatively short lifespans of popular social media platforms like Myspace, Facebook’s reign at the heights of social media has been extremely long. But, the report supports numerous claims over the past year that Facebook is beginning to lose users and marketers alike. Despite still being the most important social network overall, by a significant amount, only 43 percent of marketers feel their efforts are effective and 7 percent intend to decrease their use of Facebook this year.

3. Google+ is Finally Getting Some Attention – Despite still being the source of plenty of derisive jokes, Google+ is finally seeing some light on the horizon. The report explains, “While 54 percent of marketers are using Google+, 65 percent want to learn more about it and 61 percent plan on increasing Google+ activities in 2014.”

4. Is Podcasting the Next Big Thing? – Only 6 percent of marketers are currently involved in podcasting, but expect to see efforts skyrocketing soon. The report says 21 percent of marketers are planning on increasing their podcasting activities this year. Many also showed heightened interest in podcasting, with 28 percent saying they wanted to learn more.

Are you trying to stay on the cutting edge of social media? It is hard to stay ahead of the curve, but with enough effort you can corner all the new emerging platforms while keeping up with the content trends.

Many businesses only use their Google+ Local profile for SEO. It is an important part of increasing your brand’s visibility on Google and it is incredibly easy to sign up, reap the benefits, and leave the profile alone from then on. But, it is crucial to make sure you at least set the profile up completely, otherwise you might get some interesting results.

When you leave parts of your profile empty, especially your photos, Google tends to do their best to fill in the gaps. But, this doesn’t aways have the best results. For example, take Mutt Industries from Portland. Todd Mintz spotlighted their appearance on Google Plus Local and search results.

Mutt Industries

If you don’t upload pictures to your profile, Google will just use whatever they can find to fill the spot, and it might be and entirely random photo from your WordPress content. In Mutt’s case, that random photo also seemingly shows someone doing something still illegal in the majority of states, including Oregon. Obviously the image isn’t displayed prominently on Mutt’s website. It is just a random low-quality image from their hosted content.

Mike Blumenthal also noted that their Google+ Local Page is pretty much entirely devoid of all content. It has been claimed, but there is nothing else for Google to work with. If they had added just a single photo, they likely would have avoided the mix-up altogether.

If you aren’t going to use your Google+ Local Page in an attempt to engage the community, at least be sure to add enough to make your business identifiable and allow you to have some control over how you appear to searchers. A “Full-Service Creative Agency” might not be too hurt by a stoned appearance, but you probably don’t want people to think your serious business has gone to pot when they search for you.