No one is going to confuse the fledgling Google+ social network with Facebook and its 845 million worldwide users.
With what Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) CEO Larry Page claimed is 90 million users total, people won't even confuse Google+ with Twitter, which reportedly has more than 200 million users.
And yet, Google+ in December saw 20 million unique visitors, or nearly half that of Twitter, which garnered 40.4 million users the last month of 2011, according to market researcher Compete.
Those 20 million unique users, a primary indicator of popularity after user engagement, were accompanied by 50 million visits and 200 million page views.
Moreover, Compete said the landing page for the Google+ 1 button, installed on thousands of blogs and Websites to help users signal things they favor, has grown to more than 40 million unique visitors.
These starts aren't too shabby for a social network that only launched to the general public from its "limited field test" sandbox in late September. Yet Google+ still has a hard time winning over converts the way Facebook, which last week filed for a $5 billion initial public offering (IPO), has.
That's because Google is pretty cagey about announcing actual user engagement for the sitethat is, how many people are interacting with Google+, sharing posts and photos, participating in Hangouts, and engaging in other social activities on the network.
For example, Facebook said half of its 800 million-plus users log into its Website on any given day. The average user is connected to 130 friends, family members and other people on the network. The average user is also connected to 80 community pages, groups and events on Facebook, where some 250 million photos are uploaded each day.
Yet without the user engagement stats, Compete remains bullish on Google+ growth prospects. The researcher expects Google's "Search, plus your world" feature will help the company funnel more traffic to Google+ by incorporating Google+ posts and photos into users' search results.
"This newly updated policy will also aid in serving the most pertinent ads to the appropriate consumers, across a more unified product portfolio. This will also provide the ability to serve the most relevant ads to target consumers."
We're quite sure consumers can't wait for that ... unless and until those social ads get annoying as they sometimes can be on Facebook.