Hitwise: Google+ traffic up in October over last month

However, the social networking site couldn't sustain the sharp spike from the week in September after it opened to everyone

Google+ usage has increased in October compared with last month, but the social networking site couldn't sustain a dramatic one-week surge that took place after it became publicly available on Sept. 20, according to Experian Hitwise.

The growth in usage also hasn't been enough to put Google+ within the top 10 sites in Experian Hitwise's Social Networking and Forums category, in which it ranked 13th as of last week.

Still, the trend is encouraging, according to Experian Hitwise spokesman Matt Tatham. "The site is doing well," he told IDG News Service in a phone interview. "It's down from the [September one-week] peak but it's considerably higher than where it was."

Compared with the first four weeks of September, total visits to Google+ rose 30 percent during the same period in October, when the site attracted an average of 6 million total visits per week, he said.

Total page views climbed 37 percent, as the site averaged about 15 million page views per week, and time spent on the site rose 5 percent, according to Experian Hitwise. Its data is limited to the U.S. and doesn't include mobile traffic or traffic from the Google+ notification bar.

Also positive is that Google+ has had an average percentage of returning visitors of 62 percent since it launched in limited beta in late June, which Tatham considers a good level of repeat activity.

Unfortunately for Google+, it couldn't remain at the peak level it hit in the days following the removal of its invitation-only access restriction, when it received 15 million total visits the week ending Sept. 24. That boost propelled the site from 54th to 8th place in the category.

Even that week, Google+ lagged way behind leader Facebook, which amassed 1.76 billion total visits, or almost 65 percent market share. Google's 15 million visits gave it a 0.55 percent market share that week. The latest figures from Google show that there are more than 40 million Google+ members. Facebook says it has more than 800 million active members.

However, it's worth noting that the category lists separately Google's YouTube, which that week ranked second with 530 million total visits, or almost 20 percent market share, according to Experian Hitwise.

Google+ is a major priority for the company, which expects it to be not just a stand-alone social network but a site that is broadly and deeply integrated with other Google online services, providing social sharing capabilities.

Already, Google+ is tightly integrated with the company's Picasa Web photo upload and sharing service, and has been linked up with its Blogger blog publishing service and with its Google Apps hosted collaboration and communication suite.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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