Google has opened the doors to Google+, allowing anyone to fill out a profile and join the site. The move promoted a surge in traffic to the three-month-old site. Recent numbers from Experian Hitwise suggest that those attracted to either Google or social media continue to flock through the door.
In fact, providing open access created a massive spike in market share, with a 1,269% growth from the week ending Sept. 17 through the week of Sept. 24. The site also received nearly 15 million total U.S. visits last week. In one week, Google+ leaped from ranking as the No. 54 most-visited site in Experian Hitwise's Social Networking and Forums category to No. 8.
A shift in the audience profile shows an increase in Hispanic and single users, and away from a concentration of tech-oriented 18- to-24-year-olds. This shift represents more of the general population, according to Experian Hitwise.
A talk with Google Co-founder Larry Page at the Google Zeitgeist conference this week reveals that Will I Am will do a concert Friday on Google+ through a hangout.
The last confirmation on site members that Google released back in mid-July sits at 10 million members, validating Ancestry.com founder Paul Allen's estimates. Now, Allen -- the self-proclaimed statistician for Google+ -- estimates the number of people worldwide who have joined at about 50 million, with the social network adding about 2 million members a day.
There's talk of Google+ opening the site to businesses in the near future, but Google must first build membership and traffic to attract advertisers. It also must determine if and how it will enable brands to extend ads across google.com, Gmail, the Google Display Network and beyond.
Meanwhile, Google released an update to Google+ Tuesday that gives users more control on settings. Members can now download photos, but those who own them can click a checkbox to block the action. When viewing a photo in the lightbox photo viewer, click Actions. If the photo owner has allowed downloads, you can see an option to Download Photo.
For those who want to block viewers from downloading the photos, click the gear icon on the top right corner of this screen, go to Google+ Settings and uncheck the Allow viewers to download my photos checkbox. The feature adds a little privacy.