When Google introduced G+ Comments for Blogger, it caused quite a stir among WordPress users. They felt left out. But it didn’t take developers very long to produce several G+ related plugins for WordPress beyond adding a +1 button to the site. I found five plugins for adding comments, and five plugins for import/export of your blog posts to G+ or G+ activity to your blog, including some that also bring in comments. They all work differently, and some work far better than others. Plus, there are caveats to using any of them because none are officially sanctioned by either WordPress or Google. And, at least one may break Google’s Terms of Service.
NOTE: This post was updated on 9-13-13 due to changes at Google and G+. I am now advocating the use of including G+ comments on your blog.
Display G+ Comments on Your Blog
When you create a post on your G+ profile that links to one of your blog posts, wouldn’t it be great to capture all of the nice comments folks make about it in one place, namely your blog? That’s exactly what the G+ comments plugins do. Some plugins completely replace the native WordPress comments system, while some plugins simply augment it. Here they are, with very brief descriptions.
Made by Brandon Holtsclaw. Augments the native WordPress comment system and includes tabs for readers to make comments by signing in to either WordPress, Facebook, Disqus, or G+. The WordPress comments are held in the site’s database. All other comments are held on their respective 3rd party platform.
Made by Alex Moss. Augments the native WordPress comment system by having two separate sections for adding comments. The G+ comments section is first, followed by the WordPress comments section. The WordPress comments are held in the site’s database. All other comments are held on the 3rd party platform. It also allows you to insert the comment box as a shortcode into any post, page or template.
Made by skipser. It replaces the native WordPress comments system. That means that all of your existing comments will go poof! They will not be displayed and there will be no way for anyone not signed into their G+ account to leave a comment on your site.
Made by Pixeldrher. Replaces the native WordPress comments system. The Google+ Kommentare plugin is also made by this developer. Again, would love to tell you more about it. Can anyone translate German?
Made by Andrea Pernici. I’d tell you more about it if I could. Maybe someone can translate the site for us.
Caveats of Using G+ Comment Plugins
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. All of these plugins have the same thing in common as the plugins for comments using Facebook, Disqus, and LiveFyre. The comments are held on those 3rd party platforms, not on your site. In other words, when those platforms stop working or disappear, so do your comments.
Also, there is no spam filtering on the G+ comments, other than what’s on G+ itself. I’ve seen several folks report that the G+ comments have become a sweet target for spammers. Other folks report no issues with spam, yet. The only notification you’ll get is via your G+ profile notification system. In other words, Akismet can’t catch these and check for spam.
Keep in mind that comments are indexed by Google. Lots of great comments is a boon for your site. Lots of spam could knock your SEO into the dirt.
Update 9-13-13: While that’s still true, any spam on the G+ comments is not indexed as being on your site. And you can block spammers on your G+ posts.
So, you can think of these new plugins as a bleeding-edge visibility marketing tool that gives your site a cool factor, or you can think of it as a temporary gimmick that boosts visibility until it becomes a hassle. Or, it may cause the same roadblock that Disqus and LiveFyre have of discouraging anyone that does not have a G+ account from leaving a comment.
All of the above reasons make G+ comment plugins unsuitable for BlogAid at this time. I, and most of my clients, prefer a stable site without gimmicks. And I prefer to own my content. Plus, I can wait for a version of the plugin sanctioned by Google and WordPress. I’m positive it’s in the works.
Bonuses of Using G+ Comment Plugins
Update 9-13-13: Since I first wrote this post, a lot has changed at Google, both in their algorithms, and integration with WordPress. And, engagement on G+ posts is far higher than on blog posts, which I believe will continue to be the trend.
Those reasons out-weigh the caveats listed above and I’ve included G+ comments on BlogAid. I’m using G+ Comments WordPress by Alex Moss because it places the G+ comments first, which is where there is more activity, and because it leaves the native WordPress comments intact.
Import/Export G+ to/from Your Blog
There are several plugins that claim to either import your G+ feed to your blog, or export your blog posts to your G+ feed. All of them have various degrees of success. The reason why is because at this time, the G+ API is read-only. So, importing G+ activity to your blog is a lot easier than exporting from your blog.
Some of these plugins import all activity on your G+ profile, including comments. That may be a problem, depending on how the comments are held on your site. The G+ post is published like a regular post, which is fine. But, if the comments are held in the database, just as the native WordPress comments are, that could be a breach of Google’s Terms of Service. However, I have not been able to find a specific Google document stating that exact thing. I’m still looking because I’ve heard that it is so. If you have located it, please leave a link in the comments.
Made by Daniel Treadwell. There is a free and paid version ($10). The free version has a dofollow link back to his site. The paid version does not. This plugin brings in your publicly available feed and comments. It stores the G+ posts just like regular posts on your site, and has several configuration options for custom post types and setting categories and tags. But, it also stores the comments in the database. That could be a breach of Google’s TOS.
Made by Cossack and available on the Warrior Forum. It claims to publish your blog posts to your G+ feed. At this time, it only works in the U.S. and India. It carries links and even formatting over, such as bold and italics. It is a paid plugin with a 30 day money back offer.
Made by Sutherland Boswell. It imports your G+ activity as a post, but doesn’t look as if it works too well, or has been abandoned by the developer.
Made by Sebastian. It imports your public activities on Google Plus into your WordPress blog. It looks as if it doesn’t work well, or has been abandoned by the developer.
Made by John Eckman. It claims to publish your blog posts to your G+ feed. It doesn’t look like it works well, or has been abandoned by the developer.
Schedule Post Apps
There are also several apps and browser extensions that share links of your blog posts on G+, like Hootsuite. Those are not the same type of animal as discussed in this article and have no caveats outside of “ghost posting” where you are automating the process.
As one of my favorite G+ buddies, Stephan Hovnanian says, “G+ is the Wild West right now.” If we’ve learned anything about online marketing in the last decade, it’s this: Technology is always changing, and early adopters turn learning how to into teaching how to. And that turns into expertise and sales. Kudos and thank you to all the folks who are pushing the envelope. I’m all for trying new things, but what I’ve seen of these plugins on my sandbox sites, and by fixing a couple of client sites, makes me want to wait a bit.