April 11, 2012, 12:13 PM

Google+ gets a new look

The fledgling social network has gained 170 million users.

Lead Photo

Google Inc. today rolled out a redesign for its Google+ social network aimed at giving consumers more options to customize how they use the site.

Google also says that Google+ now has more than 170 million users, even though the network opened up to retailers, brands and organizations only in November and to individuals last June. In comparison, Facebook Inc. has more than 845 million active users of its site (which means they logged into the site during the past month) and Twitter has 551 million registered users, according to Twopcharts.com, which tracks  Twitter use globally.

Google says that in the next few days it plans to roll out a slew of new features, including a “conversation cards” stream, which is essentially a streamlined news feed that shows a consumer the latest comment under a post, rather than several comments. Google also added a dedicated Hangouts page to the site, which will enable consumers to quickly find retailers and others interested in engaging in live video chats.

Site-specific applications on the left side of the site now enable a user to access various site elements, such as Circles, which is a tool that allows a user to organize his connections. Those Circles may be categories such as “Apparel retailers” or “Acquaintances.” It also added an Explore page that highlights topics that are trending on the site. The idea of highlighting trending topics is similar to Twitter’s “Worldwide trends” section of its main page.

Google also tweaked the look of users’ profile pages, increasing the size of photos, which appear similarly to the images on Facebook’s Timeline.

“By focusing on you, the people you care about and the stuff you’re into, we’re going to continue upgrading all the features you already know and love—from Search and Maps to Gmail and YouTube,” Vic Gundotra , Google senior vice president, writes in a blog post. “With today’s foundational changes we can move even faster—toward a simpler, more beautiful Google.”

April Anderson, industry director, retail, at Google, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in June, in a session entitled, “Paid search strategies for the smaller merchant.


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