Google plus vs facebook market shares and statistics

Google plus launched in July 2011 and since then it has equally seen both strong growth and criticism. In May 2013 the social network had 343m active users. According to estimated statistics, social sharing on Google plus will surpass Facebook by 2016. But can this really be true?

Social Sharing: facebook vs google+
source: SearchMetrics

A recent update refers that there are more than 2 Billion accounts currently on Google+. However, it should be noted that these are not all "active" accounts since many users use their accounts because of the omnipresence of google plus login that allows them to move seamlessly from Google service to service. 

In contrast, Facebook's edgerank algorithm triggered a massive increase in viewability for native Facebook videos in 2014. According to a survey by Social Bakers, video posts from brands directly uploaded on Facebook have surpassed the respective number of youtube videos since November 2014, while social sharing is predominantly happening on Facebook.

Google has been aggressively promoting its search and social services, which are all somehow connected and converging. Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google, stated in 2012 that "10 years from now things will be more social", highlighting that social signals will play a major role in the future of search, while the head of Google plus V.Gundotra said "It's really the unification of all of Google's services, with a common social layer".

The competition between Google and Facebook is growing in intensity, currently regarding video content for brands, and predictions can be all but certain. It remains to be seen how things will evolve within 2015 in terms of content consumption, social platform preferences and device usage. At the moment, however, there is a significant growth in video social sharing in Facebook for mobile. 

Beyond google plus statistics

In late August 2013, the Moz scientific correlation study revealed that "After Page Authority, the number of +1s of a domain is more correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s exceeds other ranking metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage". However Matt Cutts disputed that at SMX Advanced in September 2013 and a survey by Eric Enge showed that there is no clear evidence that Google+ Drives ranking. In any case, Google +1s are definitely an indicator of quality content that can rank higher in SERPs.

Google plus correlation with higher rankings


Google plus SEO benefits

Google search algorithm treats all Google plus pages (profiles, posts, brand pages etc.) like regular webpages by not as classifying them as sandbox and the benefits don't stop here: 

  • Google plus links are "dofollow", (not all of them though).
  • There is evidence that these dofollow links from google plus pages have "enough confirmatory social signals around them can have an effect on rankings" (Enge & Traphagen, 2013)    
  • Posts are crawled and indexed immediately. In most cases it takes only a few hours for a google plus post to appear in search results. 
  • Bots can scan up to 2,5k words of a google plus page, compared to merely 275 words of a facebook page.
  • Google plus profiles do extremely well in rankings, although personal profiles on linkedin and twitter may still appear higher. 
  • You can segment your audience/contacts in circles and interact with them thru your customized circles/custom audiences. (beware of spamming here!)
  • Google plus internal search is a new way to discover relevant content and connect with like minded people. In fact it is "the largest search personalization effort ever attempted" (Kohn, 2012).
  • Google plus network is optimized to work with knowledge graph right in the dawn of semantic web. And the list goes on...

Google plus could play a role in search as a place for content discovery through communities and it is not yet evident whether Google will attempt to monetize its network through social ads, a market dominated by facebook. In 2013, start experimenting with its first social ads through Google plus posts, still available though adwords.

google plus vs facebook market shares and statistics

Undoubtedly, google plus is an innovative platform for search and especially SEO practitioners should approach it as an important touchpoint on their social media checklist. But whether google plus will manage to break away from its niche segment and overcome facebook in social sharing remains to be seen soon.

google plus vs facebook features

Written by Vangelis Kovaios

Suggested reading:

-Social Media Relationships Management. The core values.

-Online media convergence 

-The SEO cheatsheet 2013 infographic