Google Groups

Google Groups is a free service that is provided by Google Inc. It represents a combination of access to Usenet, discussion forums, and social communities.

How Google Groups came about

Google Groups was established in 2001, when Google Inc. bought up the databases of more than 500,000 technical articles from the earlier Usenet archive. These were published along with self-collected technical papers within a short period time. After similar services did not pursue this line of business any more, Google Groups was able to turn into the only Usenet archive in existence, which is publicly and fully accessible. Since 2004, there is also an option to create your own discussion forums.

Functions of Google Groups

According to shopmarketing.de, originally the main feature of Google Groups was being able to search the Usenet archive in which scientific articles had been stored since 1981.

Furthermore, the service offers the following features:

  • Browsing of internet forums
  • Setting up your own groups
  • Participation via browser, email or RSS feed
  • Simple and advanced search for content
  • Centralizing all interesting discussions and content in a profile
  • Customizing of contributions with typeface and images
  • Mobile access with smartphones and tablets
  • Organizing of events with group members
  • Finding participants with similar interests

Using Google Groups

You will not need to register in order to retrieve content from Google Groups and to read or search the Usenet archive. But if you want to actively participate in the community and create your own groups and would like to post contributions you will have to set up an account. This coincides with the Google account, which can be used for the company’s various services.

Benefits of Google Groups

Google Groups combines high-quality information, the social nature of social networks, and the discussions of a forum in one place. Anyone interested can read the articles and discuss directly on the spot with the author and other participants about it. The information in Google Groups are very much up-to-date, because each member of a group can change and update the posted articles. An additional advantage is that you can access the information from anywhere even if you don’t have your credentials to hand.

Disadvantages of Google Groups

Time and again, Google Groups have been criticized because a personal profile gets created for each user and their contributions in the Usenet archive and in the groups. This is only possible because posted articles are stored indefinitely. These profiles can be processed and read by other services (such as Yasni). Therefore, a Google search for the real name of a person can reveal personal data and even information that was posted decades ago.

Relevance to search engine optimization

Google Groups were discovered relatively quickly as a good source for link building. As it was considered part of Google’s “own ranks” such links initially received a high rating which quickly provoked link spammers into action. Google responded by automatically marking links from Google Groups with a no-follow tag. Thus, the groups became of no interest as a measure of link building. Today the search results show Google Groups entries only when the searcher expressly requested it and “discussions” was included in the search. Nevertheless, activity in this service may still be worthwhile to establish a reputation and increase traffic.

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