Today, the internet plays a large part in our social lives. If you are not active on one of the many social networks, important information and advantageous connections may be missed.

Users are building their own circles of friends and contact lists online to remain up to date and informed. Social networks now exist in various fields, be it to keep in touch with friends in Switzerland or internationally, to find long lost school buddies or a top job by publishing an attractive skills profile. Google, one of the largest internet giants, is now trying to catch up with established social networks, such as Facebook, by promoting its international network Google+.

Steady increase in user numbers
Google+ has been available to users since the summer of 2011 and offers another platform for interaction with online users worldwide. This attempt by the search engine provider seems to promise more success than the failed efforts of other companies trying to get on in the world of social networks. User numbers have often been inconsistent, but all in all they are very positive and have steadily increased since Google+ started. The network enables the simple exchange of data, information, and contacts, including from your PC or Android phone. For this, Google+ relies on new and improved functions of its existing networks and a strong connection to all other Google services.

That's what the plus in Google+ stands for

Therefore, contacts can easily be transferred from your existing Gmail account, saving you long searches for contact addresses. Persons can be assigned to different ‘circles’, such as your family, close friends, professional acquaintances, or people from another area – circle – of your life. To share information with some, but not all of them, you simply chose the relevant circle. People can not see what circle you have assigned them to; however, it is possible that a person will see other contacts through shared information. There is a similar function, almost hidden, on Facebook. The division into groups is a bit more difficult and not for lazy users. Every new contact on Google+ must be assigned from the outset to a social circle – drawn into the circle with your mouse. The various circles may also be shared with friends; if you are, for example, in a circle with professional photographers, you can recommend this circle to a friend who is looking for like-minded people – with just the click of your mouse.

Membership not required
You don’t need to be a Google+ member to receive certain content from users of the network. Specially coded links can be sent to a recipient’s e-mail address that enable friends and acquaintances without a Google+ account to access information, images, or links. However, if somebody wants to leave a comment, they will be asked to register first. The drawback is that anyone who gains access to one of the specially coded links will be able to see those, possibly private, contents.

Some very innovative Google+ features will connect your Android phone directly with your online account and thus enable increased mobility. Pictures taken with your phone, for example, will be directly uploaded to your Google+ online album. Tedious uploading sessions on your PC are no longer required. The new ‘Hangouts’ feature enables the instant creation of a video connection – through your PC or mobile phone – allowing video chatting with friends and users who are currently online. This makes it possible to spontaneously chat with up to nine people. The ‘Hangouts Extras’ feature enables working together on shared notes or sharing the screen with other people.

Google+ effects Google rating
Meanwhile, Google+ is increasingly integrated into the search results of its big brother Google. Therefore, Google+ users can calibrate their Google+ profile or pages for optimal search engine optimization (SEO). If you follow certain rules, your profile might appear at the top of search result pages. This will have a positive impact on a future employer if your pages have a well groomed appearance. You will receive additional value if you connect your homepage with your profile, since a search will deliver combined results. Google+ offers interesting added value with new and improved functions and interfaces. Whether it will be successful in the long term probably depends on the number of users and the snowball effect.

That’s what the plus in Google+ stands for

Sandro Bertschinger

He didn't find computers very interesting for quite some time. An Amiga 500 as a games machine was the high point at that time. Computers began to move into his focus with the advent of the internet and the possibility of building cool websites. In 2001, he crossed paths with an internet company by coincidence.