Google+ Traffic Dropping Already; The Beginning of The END?

After weeks of explosive growth and after becoming the fastest growing social networking site to reach 20 million users in just 3 weeks, the Google+ social networking site saw its traffic and usage drop last week, according to Hitwise. This makes everyone wonder – is the shine beginning to fade for Google+? The report comes after Google+’s traffic enjoyed a steady climb since its June 28 debut.

Google+ is in limited beta release, available only by invitation from current members and from Google, which is purposely limiting access to refine the site and fix bugs before opening it up broadly.

Google Plus Traffic Declines 3% Over One Week

For the week ending July 23, Google+ received 1.79 million visits, down 3 percent from the previous week, and the average time spent on the site also fell 10 percent to 5 minutes and 15 seconds, Hitwise said Wednesday. The company extrapolates its figures from data from ISPs and from an opt-in panel of about 2.5 million users.

At any rate, a drop in activity is never a good sign for any website, especially a social networking site and one whose launch at the end of June was welcomed with such enthusiasm and buzz. This is not at all good for a company like Google, whose past social networking efforts in the form of Google Wave and Google Buzz were huge flops and went into oblivion after initial few weeks of fabulous user response.

Interestingly when contacted, Google refused to comment on specifics of the report but cautioned it’s based on the number of visitors and not the number of actual users. Google also said third-party metrics don’t factor in two “very critical” modes of interaction, namely mobile usage and navigation bar usage, in which members interact with Google+ from another Google product, such as the drop-down menu while in their Gmail account.

Google+, the Search Engine giant’s latest attempt to challenge Facebook for the social-networking crown, launched late last month in a field trial, letting in only a handful of users, who could later invite their friends and family.

It is no surprise that Google+ is an important initiative for Google. The company has high expectations that the site will finally make it a strong competitor in social networking, where it has struggled to find its footing.

In the past week or so, Google+ also has been dragged to a couple of controversies. One centered on Google’s decision that people must use their real name for Google+ accounts, which led the company to delete many profiles. That prompted complaints from members who claimed they used their real name and had their account deleted anyway, and from others who argued they should be able to use a pseudonym to protect their privacy.

Also at one instance Google+ servers were run out of disk space and started sending spam like emails to users before Google intervened and fixed the problem. Could this recent drop in traffic be a result of these controversies? We wonder…

Google thinks that Google+ will prove compelling enough to eventually prompt a massive exodus of Facebook users. But what do you think? Has the charm and shine of Google+ worn off or is this just a bump on the road to world domination? Let us know in the comments.

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