Dec. 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM ET
When Google put out its annual zeitgeist list, it bragged that "Google+" was the No. 2 fastest-growing search term of the year. But that label may be a bit deceiving.
As TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld points out, it's no surprise that "Google+" was such a popular search term in 2011. It didn't even exist prior to this year and people wanted to know what it's about. "On a percentage basis the growth in the number of searches for the term was astronomical," explains Schonfeld.
But that's not where the story ends, folks. You see, apparently searches for "Google+" aren't as common as they used to be at this point.
By using the Google Insights for Search tool — a feature which allows people to track search trends and patterns — it is possible to see (in the chart above) that after an initial spike around the social network's launch and small bumps around other announcements, searches for the term "Google+" started dropping.
When you look at the embedded chart to the right, the picture becomes far more clear: Rival social networks such as Facebook and Twitter command far more ongoing interest in Google's own search engine, and that's in the U.S. alone, where Google+ has had more reach.
And according to Schonfeld, this is a problem:
Searches are an indication of pure intent. People search for what they intend to do. [...] If fewer and fewer people are searching for “Google+”, it makes you wonder if anyone is actually using it. Remember, just because Google+ has tens of millions of registered users, that doesn’t mean those people ever came back after Google made them click to register.
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