Google Releases 'Topics' for Google+ to Boost Content Discovery
Do you still use Google+, either personally or for your business?
Google's social network, which they initially launched to fend off competition from Facebook, never really gained traction, and has been repeatedly de-emphasized in recent times. But still, Google says that millions of people remain active on the platform, and as we've noted previously, Google+ communities can be extremely valuable - and there still may or may not be some additional SEO benefit to maintaining G+ activity.
For those that are still on the Google+ train, good news - Google has released a new feature called 'Topics' to help connect you to more content in line with your interests.
The new function is fairly straight-forward - in your Google+ home stream you'll soon see a new 'Topics to explore' card, like the one shown above, which will highlight other content on the network which is similar to that you've shown an interest in.
"There are already hundreds of Topics available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, covering everything from black-and-white photography to hiking and camping. So whether you've recently discovered the wonders of woodworking, love gardening, or can't get enough street photography, there's a stream of unique and interesting stuff waiting for you on Google+."
Given the various changes in focus for Google+ in recent times, it's hard to know exactly where Google stands on it. On one hand, they definitely want a social media presence - as more people conduct more of their daily activities on social (including search), that, inevitably takes them away from Google, and Google knows that if they do nothing and let that traffic slip, that could hurt their business in the long run. This is why Google's now trying to get into the messaging space, seeing growth in messaging activity, and why speculation that Google might one day make an offer for Twitter makes sense.
But thus far, all of Google's various social attempts have fallen flat. Google+ has been the closest they've got to building a network, but it did seem like most Google+ members only joined to either make comments on YouTube videos (a stipulation they've since removed) or to boost their SEO efforts.
Given this, it has seemed as though Google+ will just disappear into the sunset at some stage - but then again, as noted, a lot of users are still highly active in G+ communities, with many find them to be extremely beneficial, focused groups.
Because of the popularity of Groups, it makes sense for Google to keep those users around, while they also appear to be using G+ as a testing ground for their newer camera tools. But what the future holds for the search engine's social network still remains unclear. This is one of the few updates we've seen for G+ in the last year, and it's clearly not a core focus. But it is an update, they are providing more than simple maintenance.
While it seems like the opportunity for Google+ to become a more significant player in the social space has passed, there may still be life in it yet. And for those that are using it, why not try to keep them more engaged?
Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter