Google+ launched in 2011 as Google’s attempt at a social media platform. Originally conceived to take market share from social media juggernaut Facebook, it never achieved its goal. Other than some hardcore fans, Google+ by 2018 has become largely a has-been. So when news broke that there had a been a data breach of user information at G+, it was not a huge surprise that the corporation announced it would be shutting down operations over the coming months.
The end of Google+ has seemed inevitable for a while. The question is, now that Google has officially announced the end, what impact will it have on SEO?
When it first launched, Google hinted that Google plus and +1 buttons would be a factor in search rankings. They did show up in searches over the years. Google also offered Search Plus Your World, a personalized search that showed results based on what your Google plus friends searched for and clicked on. Google actively tried to drive conversation on its social network by recommending people take their search to Google+, including highlighting Google+ content in search results and in Google News and showing users what was trending on Google plus. There was also an in-depth local search integration between Google Local and Google plus results.
Ultimately, all these attempts to promote Google+ failed. Over the years, Google stopped the heavy promotion of G+. Features and integrations with other Google products slowly faded. At this point, G+ does not play a large role in Google search. Although it has affected search in the past, it has been inactive for a while now.
When Google+ is shut down for consumer use in August 2019, I expect no impact to SEO. This has been a long time coming, Google just made it official.