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Google+ Changes Have Strong Implications for Local SEO

In a recent branding shift, Google repositioned its social network, Google+, away from its Local Business services.

Google+ (G+) profiles were previously a vital tool for small business owners to promote themselves in search. Because of their deep integration into both Google Maps and Search, G+ optimization became an essential component of local search marketing.

However over the past few months, Google has been subtly and slowly removing G+ business pages from its core search properties. As of now, they've been completely separated from Local Search results, Map results, and My Business (Google's back-end portal for editing business information).

G+ profiles have also had a major design and functionality makeover, making it likely that Google is reverting G+ back to a simple social sharing feature. Dubbed "the new G+", profile pages are now being shown with a completely different user interface that lacks vital information for local businesses.

Below is a brief summary of Google's recent changes small business owners need to be aware of.

G+ Business Page Changes

  • Removal of business features including:
    • Reviews
    • Description
    • Categories
    • Phone number
    • Address
    • Driving directions
    • Hours
    • Photo gallery
  • Simple, minimal user interface design
  • Primary attention given to social media posting and sharing

Google Local Search Changes

  • Removal of G+ page links from website results
  • Integration of Google My Business information to "knowledge graph" panel
  • Number of local search results decreased from 7 to 3 for majority of service-related keywords
  • Google Maps listing is now the main page for promoting business details

Currently lacking the most important business information features, G+ profiles have become a shell of their former selves as a local business tool. Google may continue to make updates to the "new G+" pages, but for now the best way to showcase business information will be through your Google My Business portal and Google Maps listing.

Need help staying on top of Google updates and improving your local SEO efforts? Contact our digital marketing professionals to learn how we can increase your search visibility to nearby customers.

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