There has been talk of Google+ changing almost consistently since its launch over 4 years ago, since which Google’s attempt at a social network has gone through numerous minor changes with services such as Google Photos becoming a separate entity and integration of local business listings becoming prevalent, which as a web marketing agency we found was highly beneficial, as we’ve previously reported on. It’s easy to argue that Google+ didn’t quite make the impact that Google were hoping for, but that’s not what the focus of this article is going to be on. In this article we want to look at how Google+ has changed recently, and what these changes will mean to both smaller more local businesses, as well as brief look at how we feel that larger national companies with multiple locations across the UK will be affected. Please be aware that there’s not been too much said about the recent changes (which we will address shortly), so this article should be treated as an opinion piece based on what we’ve experienced firsthand.
The Aesthetic Changes
You may have already witnessed the new Google+, but if you haven’t then during your next visit to the website you’ll likely notice that there’s a little message asking you to “Meet the new Google+. Simpler, faster, better.” If you click “Let’s Go” you’ll be taken to a version of the site that is aesthetically far more in keeping with the Material Design look that has been championed across numerous Android devices throughout 2015. The look is cleaner, complete with sharper more defined lines and bolder colours, and most notably of all, the site achieves that claim of it being simpler. A lot of clutter appears to have been removed, and while this is apparent for personal accounts, it’s particularly noticeable for business accounts.
The aesthetic changes that have been implemented on the new look Google+ appear to be part of the trend that Google have set with a push towards amalgamated look across mobile apps, browsers and desktops. Recently there have been reports of YouTube mimicking the look of the Android app, although this may have been the result of rollout tests rather than a full rollout that will likely come in the future.
Faster Load Times
It’s safe to assume that this will equate to faster loading times and is likely part of Google’s push toward a faster more accessible web. Whether the change actually leads to the site being faster will require some time and testing, but we can’t argue; it’s definitely simpler.
The Impact on Local Business
We came across a number of changes that we can see becoming an issue for local businesses, but keep in mind this is an opinion piece, so panic isn’t necessary at the moment. When playing with the new look we found concerning annotations made by Google as to where it was obtaining its data from, as well as how much was directly editable by ourselves. The following changes stood out to us the most:
When you look at the details of any given business you’ll now see annotations that claim that the address and phone number listings are from Google+, but it doesn’t say how it generates these and where it’s pulling them through from. They don’t appear to be editable anymore, and it’s not clear that these are being pulled from the website, whether using schema mark up or otherwise. It could be that Google is using another system, but at present it’s not telling us how. If this information is being gathered from Google search results we can see the potential problems for this system in the future, because if Google is using citations for your business from elsewhere online you would need to be aware of every citation for your business and then make sure that each of these are updated and free of errors to ensure that Google lists your business location correctly.
You Can’t Edit the Map Pin
This might seem like a very minor point, but for a number of local businesses the ability to move the pin that Google places on a map to let people who search for them know exactly where they are has proven to be invaluable. Some local businesses can be quite rural, and a misplaced pin can be quite confusing to potential clients, so we hope that this is something that will be addressed going forwards.
There are a number of elements that appear to have been removed from display that could be quite detrimental to businesses of all sizes. The opening times, business description and for some odd reason certain images are no longer being displayed. From what we can tell this doesn’t affect the appearance of opening times and business descriptions in the knowledge graph on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) or on the Google Maps SERP, but their removal from the main Google+ business listing may be a point for concern going forwards.
Benefit to Multiple Location Businesses
Google have been trying to make sure that Google+ is appropriate for companies with multiple locations for some time, and this push appears to be careening forwards with the changes made to Google+ which makes it clearer that it’s easy to add multiple locations to one business listing. This could be seen as an indication that Google is pushing Google+ to have a greater focus on bigger business, and whilst we hope that this isn’t the case as the service has proven to be a great asset to smaller and more locally focussed businesses, this is another case of waiting to see what will happen.
Google Haven’t Said Much
While the search giant tends to keep tight lipped about big changes to its services, including those made to the search algorithm that serves as the core of its business, it seems strange that Google has been so quiet about the changes that they’ve made to the functionality of Google+. At the time of writing this article; if you search online for information about the latest Google+ changes you’ll struggle to find anything that goes particularly in-depth. There are plenty of posts that cover the implementation of the new styling, but little that discusses the changes of functionality, which is arguably far more important to companies across the UK. Hopefully there will be more coverage going forwards; otherwise we doubt that we’ll be the last to add to the pile of speculation about what’s happening to Google+.
How to Find Out More
We know that we’ve covered a lot of information in this article that requires some understanding of social media marketing techniques, so don’t worry if some of some of this doesn’t make sense to you, at Michael Bell One we’re here to help. Our goal is to provide you with a web marketing strategy that will help to boost the presence of your business and make sure that your current and future clients get the most from your website. We’re committed to providing you with a great service, so we’ll always translate the jargon into plain English, so if you want to know more about any of the topics that we’ve discussed here, our web marketing services, or any of our other services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. You can contact James Golding by completing our online contact form, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling our Lewes office on 01273 478822 to speak to a friendly member of the team.