Google Plus is not dead after all. Marketers were taken aback when Google rolled out a more refreshed and simplified version Google Plus late last month. Now that the dust has settled on the specific results of this change, we can see that several features have either been removed or hidden. For businesses, this update means that actionable information like reviews, business categories and store hours have been removed from Google Plus local pages.
Classic versus New View of Google Plus Local Pages
The reason for this Google Plus rollout, industry experts speculate, is that Google is shifting the focus of Plus from business listings hub to a more of a social, community-oriented network. However, this update should not have been a surprise to marketers. Since the beginning of 2015, we have seen that slowly but surely, Google has pulled more and more brand-friendly data from Plus and into Maps and search.
All of a brand’s business information is still available in Snack Pack (organic) listings, Google Maps results, and the Knowledge Cards you see in search results today. Consumers are still able to find and review a business through organic search and Maps, just as before. If your location information is updated and accurate, these changes should have no impact search rankings and very little impact on user experience.
What does it all mean?
The remaining incentive for brands to have visibility on Google Plus is more subjective: it is increasingly becoming a hub for like-minded communities of users to engage and brands can’t afford to completely turn a blind eye to these conversations. We can assume that this switch with Google plus was a calculated way for Google to make Plus a more popular destination for users to connect with each other. Now, it’s a matter of users actually riding this new change and adopting the platform. This change isn’t a sign that brands are unwelcomed on the platform but rather, that brands should be working to add value where users are looking it in the moments that matter.
While some might say that Local has been further distanced from Google Plus than before, the reality is that the redirection of this local data reflects the need for brands focus on where users find more actionable value: organic search and Maps. Competing review channels like Yelp have been successful in capitalizing on users need to review or find data within a moment, and we can assume that this revival of Plus is part of Google’s greater mission to organize the world’s information and serve users.
While the wavering tides of Google may seem rocky for brands using Plus, it’s not time to abandon ship. We can predict that the next movement for Google Plus would be to integrate more user-oriented data on maps and search. As we mentioned, Google has now set an obvious course for the future of Plus, and now it is up to brands to integrate the best data possible to stay afloat.
Your brand’s marketing strategy should always find ways connect with customers on the devices and social sites they use. If users begin to adopt Plus as a social channel, you must move provide the right name, address and phone number in addition to having an optimized strategy for social engagement on Google in order to rank. This means injecting claiming and optimizing data, selecting the appropriate categories, and posting rich content like photos and videos regularly.
Contact us if you have any questions about the new rollout or would like to start getting your Google My Business account optimized with the most updated, relevant data. Our platform and team can help claim, monitor and control your listings while pulling reviews for you to moderate.