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Google+ visits up 13-fold as site opens to public

Google’s new social networking service, Google+, the search giant’s answer to Facebook, saw US visits grow by 13 times last week after the previously invite-only service was opened to the general public, traffic monitoring outfit Experian Hitwise has reported.

According to a Hitwise report, the Google+ site had almost 15 million US visitors in the week up to 24th September. The previous seven days, when the service was still in its invite-only test phase, had seen just 1.1 million.

The news will come as some relief to Google, whose earlier foray into social networking, Google Buzz, was abandoned amid privacy concerns. Google+ had also been greeted with a great deal of scepticism over the lack of activity on the service, with critics noting that Google founder Larry Page himself had not updated his Google+ account since 15th August.

The opening up of the service to the general public may help to address those concerns, with new search facilities making it easier to locate friends online – plus a new online gaming service including titles from developers such as Zynga, the makers of Facebook hit Farmville, and Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds.