<<This blog post will be continually updated as more information becomes available.>>
Last week I decided it was time to delete my Google Plus profile. I'd been an active user of the social network for several years, so there was a lot of information to delete.
When my Facebook friends who also knew me on Google Plus found out they asked me a few things: 1) Why did you do that? Don't you know it's going to kill your search engine optimization (SEO)? 2) Do you know what affect that has on the rest of your web presence, since Google owns so much of the internet now?
Thus, I decided to write about the affects of that decision around the internet.
Disabling Google Plus versus Deleting Google Account
The option to delete your Google Plus page is located under "account" when you click on your profile photo in the upper right photo. Once there, click the "Google+" tab. Scroll all the way to the bottom to where it says "Disable Google+."
From there, it gives you two options. You can either disable Google Plus or you can delete your Google account. Disabling your Google Plus page means you will be deleting your Google Plus profile as well as any information attached to it including comments you made and posts you made, the +1 tab, and any profile information that was not made public.
It does not include your reviews on Local, or your pages. If you were the moderator of a community, you will still be the moderator of that community, as long as you're not the only person in the community. Photos don't get deleted when you delete your profile. They will still exist in Picasa (go to Picasaweb to delete them.) Connections to third parties and merged accounts will not be affected, and the contacts you had will not be completely deleted. The people who have you circled will still have you circled until they delete you, even if your Plus page does not exist anymore. That way, they can communicate with you through Gmail. The people whom you had circled will remain in a "contacts" folder.
Deleting a Google Account means disabling Google Plus and all associated pages. It also includes the deletion of Gmail, Google Voice, Google Drive, YouTube, Reader, Blogger, Picasa, Play, and other Google products you can use. If you want to get off Google Plus but keep these items in tact, you don't want to delete your Google account.
Search Engine Optimization
If people who used Google Plus searched for my name, a lot of Google Plus results would come up. Posts would come up that had links to my website. When I deleted Google Plus, all of that went away.
I didn't remember that I had links to Google Plus embedded all over the internet, to include Facebook. I stopped posting to Facebook directly because I have issues with their terms of service. That meant that my SEO on Facebook consisted of a link back to Google Plus, which meant that once Google Plus was gone, so was all the SEO on Facebook.
Links on this website to Google Plus became 404 messages, which some search engines penalize websites for.
Deletion of the +1 feature meant that all the times when I plus-one'd my photo somewhere else in order to gain the SEO from Google Plus, that SEO was gone. The plus ones to my own sites were also gone.
After realizing what I had happened to my business once I deleted Google Plus, I was faced with the task of trying to regain all the optimization I had lost with the deletion. It's a daunting task, as it takes time for search engines to crawl the web and index your content. I lost a lot of posts that were very high in ranking in search results, and others will fall in the rankings because their placement was based at least partially on something done on Google Plus.
Broken YouTube Links
After I deleted my Google Plus account, I went to YouTube and nearly lost my lunch. My account was blank. It appeared as if none of my videos were there. And I was horrified because I didn't want to have lost the views on those videos, as that was another piece of my SEO plan.
Google didn't warn people about that when it gave information about the disabling of Google Plus. Had I not gone there looking for a video to post onto Facebook, I would have had 404 warnings and broken links everywhere until someone either told me, or until I finally figured it out on my own.
Luckily, I didn't lose all my videos. However, they were broken links everywhere because the deletion of my Plus page made them all visible only to me. This applies to all the videos I uploaded as well as every playlist I had saved of other peoples' uploads.
I was able to go into each playlist and each video and make them visible to the public again.
Because this happened with YouTube, I wonder if there are other Google products out there to which this has occurred. I have been combing my Google account looking for any other inconsistencies that could cause a 404 on my website or on someone else's website.
Speaking of other peoples' websites.... I now have lost some business contacts because their links to my Google Plus page went 404. They didn't want to bother with writing to me about it, and just dropped me. Some have called me already wanting a new link. Others didn't have my contact information to begin with.