November 17, 2011, 4:34 PM

Google+ traffic grows

The fledging social network gains the third-largest number of U.S. visits since its launch.

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Google Inc.’s social network Google+ attracted 6.8 million U.S. visits in the second week of November, its third-highest total since its June launch, according to web measurement firm Experian Hitwise. The number of visits increased 5% from the previous week and 25% compared to the second week in October.

Google+’s top week in terms of overall visits was the week ending Sept. 24, when the social network opened up to all users (previously it was invitation-only). That week it had 14.9 million visits. The second most active week was the week ending Oct. 1 when it had 7.2 million visits, which a Hitwise spokesman says was a residual effect from the network opening up.

Key to the traffic bump may be moves such as Google+ opening up to retailers, brands and organizations. That move enables a retailer like Amazon.com Inc. to build relationships with consumers on the fledgling social network. Amazon.com is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Having more content on the site, thanks to more users, including brands, will make Google+ more engaging, which leads to repeat traffic, says the Hitwise spokesman. Last week 74% of the site’s traffic was from repeat visitors, defined as consumers who have visited the site in the past 30 days, which is the highest total since the social network opened up to all consumers. It is also an 18% increase from the previous week.

If Google+ proves successful over the long term it will likely be because of the strength of Google’s other properties, such as its search engine and Gmail e-mail offering, says the spokesman. That’s clear as 73% of the referring traffic came from Google properties last week, with Google.com (45.6%) and Gmail (16.2%) accounting for the bulk of that traffic.

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