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.”

While Google is never going to reveal their “secret recipe” that is used to rank the billions and billions of web pages around, the company still wants to help you ensure your site is performing as well as possible.

To help with this, Google has launched a new tool designed to evaluate your website and rate how it follows the company’s SEO best practices and guidelines.

The tool is currently in open beta, but is available to all webmasters at web.dev.

According to the search engine, the tool is the end result of more than 10 years of learning and iteration.

“As the bar for high-quality experience continues to rise, users are quickly disappointed in a web experience that doesn’t deliver. And then they’re gone.

“We believe, however, the web now has the capabilities to overcome that challenge—to give all users the best possible experience wherever they are.”

The most useful part of the tool for most webmasters will be its SEO assessment, but it also includes audits for performance, accessibility, and more.

Specifically, web.dev can evaluate a website’s:

  • Performance: Audits for metrics like first paint and time to interactive to determine lag.
  • PWA: Assesses your page against the baseline Progressive Web App Checklist.
  • Best Practices: Looks for everything from HTTPS usage to correct image aspect ratios.
  • SEO: Checks for best practices to ensure your site is discoverable.
  • Accessibility: Checks for common issues that may prevent users from accessing your content.

All you have to do to evaluate your own site is enter the URL.

Along with some simple images rating your site’s performance, you will also be given a list of recommended improvements you can make, listed in order of how important they are. The recommendations at the top of the list will have the biggest impact on your site, while those at the bottom as more minute changes that will have little effect on your ranking – though they may improve your site’s overall performance.

Web.dev also provides detailed downloadable reports which can be printed or digitally shared with site owners, providing an easy-to-understand breakdown of your site’s performance on Google.

The tool generates an up-to-date report on a daily basis, so you can also quickly see how any changes you make affect your site’s performance.

People have been proclaiming that organic reach on Facebook is dead for years, thanks to moves that increasingly prioritize paid ads over regular Page posts. However, now might really be the time to start grieving. Facebook has announced sweeping changes to its News Feed that will make organic Page content even less likely to be seen.

According to Facebook, the change is ostensibly to prioritize the “social” part of their platform by putting posts from friends and family at the top of the News Feed. As this happens, “public content” (or content shared by Pages, rather than individual accounts) will be removed or pushed deeper down the feed.

However, there is a caveat that Page content that “spark conversations” will also be prioritized.

It is unclear exactly how this will be measured or enacted, but it implies that brands or publishers will have a harder time reaching users unless their content regularly receives a large number of comments.

Facebook explains the changes in a blog post, saying:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses…Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

Facebook is largely trying to downplay the impact on businesses or publishers, but Zuckerberg’s own blog post acknowledges that he expects “some measures of engagement will go down” for publishers and small businesses.

Unsurprisingly, this creates more incentive for brands to buy into Facebook’s ad platform to ensure their content actually reaches their audience.

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri recommended several steps small business or brands can take that rely heavily on video content – particularly Facebook Live.

“Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook — in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

These changes and the continually decreasing organic reach across Facebook may make it tempting to try to manipulate or goad users into engaging, but Mosserri says this will get you in even worse trouble.

He says “using engagement-bait to goad people into commenting on posts is not a meaningful interaction, and we will continue to demote these posts in News Feed.”