This comment/question is not based on any study I have done or read, but I was wondering if we as webmasters are hurting ourselves, and in turn our clients, SERPS, etc, by using every plugin, add-on, API, Share, Like, +, gadget, or whatever else you want to call them, on our websites.
We get so engrossed and distracted with analytics, WMT, conversion rates, and so on, I just wonder if we are loosing sight of our actual goal. Aside from the fact all these things added to a site slows it down, even it is just nominal, does it really help us?
In other words, is this stuff really beneficial? Would the time spent doing all these things be better spent on something else, like say improving content? And do visitors really care about all the social plugins? (Though being able to sign into a site using your facebook logon is helpful, depending what information the site is requesting.)
Two philosophies come to mind, both of which I try to practice:
"Less is more" and "KISS - Keep It Simple *"
My observation is we are trending away from these, possibly to our detriment.
(*I was told the word 'stupid' goes here, but you can decide what is best for you.)
Virtually all these questions are rhetorical and there is probably no right answer. But, 5, 10, 15 years ago these things did not really exist and we all did just fine.
And in my opinion, "increased competition" is not justification.
Just something to think about when you set your priorities.