Love it or hate it, Google+ has had numerous changes since its 2011 introduction as Google’s social networking solution. Over the summer, the platform was decoupled from YouTube — meaning Google no longer required users to have Google+ accounts to comment or post on YouTube. Then, last month, Google removed Google+ results from Google Places’ API. Further refinement came November 17 when Google introduced an updated Google+ with a slimmed down interface for mobile compatibility and a focus on communities and collections.
But the question on the minds of many marketers is: What does this update mean for Local Google+ pages? The short answer is that there will be less visibility, flexibility, and optimization options for Local Google+ pages, but if your Google My Business account is well optimized, this update should not be very disruptive to how consumers find your business.
Some of the largest changes in the newly updated Google+ affect the Local Google+ pages. These changes include the removal of information that is important to local business–including business descriptions, reviews, videos, and photos. The change that is the most concerning is that the new Google+ view does not give consumers the ability to leave reviews. For now, the silver lining is that Google+ users can toggle back to the old view to create reviews.
This shift away from Google+ being a place where local business information lives seems to fall in line with the platform’s new objective to be a place where people can keep up with and talk about their interests. While the changes to Local Google+ pages are significant, prior to this update, these pages had become harder to find, and links to these pages were dropped from Google Map results–making one question what the real impact of the changes announced November 17 will be.
“Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler.” – Eddie Kessler, Director of Streams, Google
Where You Should Focus Your Attention
Although Local Google+ pages seem to becoming less relevant for businesses, there is one area that SIM Partners believes is crucial to a strong local SEO strategy–Google My Business (GMB). Google My Business accounts power the local business information on Local Google+ pages, but their real power is their influence on how a brand ranks for keywords within search results.
One of the main places that consumers find local business information is through search. A well optimized GMB account will help a brand be discovered through Google map results, knowledge graph, local finder, map maker, and other Google apps and pages. Now more than ever, it is crucial to ensure your local business data is correct, categorized, and optimized on GMB so that searchers can find your business.
At SIM Partners, we believe location data should be leveraged to create a strong foundation for your local SEO and local marketing efforts. A key component for this foundation has been and continues to be GMB. Contact us to talk more.