Anyone who is familiar with Google knows that they are always changing things. It has been no secret that Google+ has been a less than stellar experiment by Google. The most recent change to Google+ came on November 17th with very little warning or explanation as to why they happened. The changes primarily affected the way Google+ shows local business pages, and if you’d like to learn more, Mike Blumenthal has provided a FAQ about them.
In the past, the old version of Google+ displayed a large amount of information about your local business (shown above), but in this new update, Google has removed many of these features. Google+ pages are no longer providing the following information:
- Review/Star Rating
- Business Categories
- Photo uploads/interior photos
- Opening hours
- Open Table Integration
So what is left? The answer is, pretty much nothing. When you are in Google+ and search for a local business you will see something similar to the image below. There is no business information and instead you can only see the G+ posts that the business has made in the past. However, you can see that there is a small information button (circled below) which will lead you the second view on the right with minimal business information including the business phone number and address and at the very bottom, the business URL.
So what does the change mean for your local business? Essentially this changes nothing for local businesses, except the fact that you no longer need to put as much focus on optimizing your Google+ profile. Very few local searchers actually look into a business’s Google+ page because all the information they need could be found on the search results page. In the past, Google+ profile optimization has been a tactic for improving Local SEO, however with this change, besides having an up-to-date and optimized Google My Business profile with your business phone number, address, URL and a logo and cover photo, there is not much more that needs to be done.
In summation, continuing Local SEO efforts should remain a priority for local businesses, however, the Google+ (and purely the Google+) aspect has been diminished. Efforts should still be made toward Google My Business and other local listing platform optimizations, local content strategies, local citation and backlink building and onsite optimizations. These efforts will continue to improve your local search visibility and continue to drive new customers to your site and your location.