Google+ growth slows, stat firm says, as +1 SEO gamers surface

The Google+ honeymoon period may be drawing to a close, as record early growth reportedly tapers off and users make fewer, shorter visits to the new social network. Having seen a 238-percent rise in US visits in the week ended July 16, according to Experian Hitwise, Google+ saw US traffic fall around 3-percent the following week, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, sites offering “+1 for pay” rankings have already sprouted up, offering to help dastardly site owners game Google’s rating and promotion system.

Experian also claims that the average time users spend on Google+ has shrunk by around 10-percent, dropping to 5 minutes 15 seconds. In the week ended July 23, US visits totaled 1.79m the number-crunching company reckons, though it admits that its figures do not take into account access from mobile apps, nor third-party app traffic. Given that Google had an Android Google+ app from launch, and released its iOS app for iPhone and iPod touch on July 19, some of the supposed slump could, in fact, be users migrating to app access instead.

A portion of the remaining users, however, may well be promoting content for pay rather than on its merit. At least one SEO optimization firm has begun offering +1 bundles, The Atlantic reports, priced at 50 for $10, 250 for $30 or 2,000 for $170. According to the company, all of the clicks come “come from real people” who will be “manually going to your website and clicking the +1 button.” The process is staggered over the course of “a couple of days so it looks natural” and are “untraceable because the +1′s are being given from different IP’s.”

At least those gaming the system will be able to do so more quickly. Google has announced that it has boosted the speed at which the +1 button loads, with the promise that it will appear up to 3x faster than before. Web admins can also update their +1 embed code to allow the JavaScript behind the button and the webpage itself to load simultaneously, further boosting speed.

[via Guardian; via Digital Trends]

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