It’s no secret that Google+ is one of the less popular social media platforms on the web, paling in comparison to Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. However, because its information is integrated with Google My Business and Google Maps, it has always held a modicum of value in the local search arena. But with customer reviews now gone from Google+ pages due to the most recent update of Google+, local business owners are wondering: Is keeping up a social media profile on Google+ worth the effort? “Prospect Genius Reviews…” investigates.
Google+ was launched in 2011 as Google’s answer to Facebook. However, it never really took off with users in the way Google had hoped it would. It just kind of existed. Most Gmail users were forced into signing up for it, and some of those people even used it on occasion, but it never came close to Facebook’s level of ubiquity. (Seriously, when was the last time you or anyone you know checked your Google+ page?)
For the most part, it was (and still is) mainly used by marketers to promote brands and local businesses. There are three major reasons for this:
- Google+ pages prominently displayed important company contact and NAP (name, address, and phone number) information. Taken directly from the company’s Google My Business account, this information is still important to have not just because of its SEO value, but also because it’s what is displayed in Google Maps.
- Google+ pages also featured customer reviews, which are integral in attracting new customers. It was super easy for interested users to read a business’s reviews just by visiting its Google+ page. At the same time, linking directly to their Google+ page was a simple way for business owners to ask customers to leave reviews.
- Their design as social media profiles could potentially boost a company’s social signals, as well. Although the added social signals weren’t very strong, considering how few users there were to interact or engage with, any little bit helped.
Plus, the fact that Google+ was a Google-owned platform had to count for something, right? That’s why many marketers (Prospect Genius included) viewed Google+ as a moderately valuable platform.
But now, with the updated design that launched in November 2015, Google+ pages no longer display customer reviews, which were the main attraction for many visitors. Meanwhile, its status as a social media platform remains weak, as its number of actively engaged users is still low. And while NAP info is still there (because it’s part of any Google My Business account), it’s inexplicably hidden. With customer reviews gone and only a minimal amount of SEO value to gain from its social signals, there’s not much left to make social engagement on Google+ worthwhile for local businesses.
(Note: You will only see this layout change when you opt to switch to the new version of Google+.)
Mike Blumenthal, a renowned authority in the local search field, offers his own take on the update:
If you haven’t gotten the message yet it should finally be clear in the release of their new and improved G+: BUSINESS UNWELCOME.
We can’t say we disagree.
So, what’s the “Prospect Genius Reviews…” recommendation?
You should keep your Google My Business and Google+ accounts updated with accurate NAP information because that’s the same information that will appear in Google Maps. But when it comes to social engagement (e.g. updating your status, sharing links, adding photos, etc.) on your Google+ page, you shouldn’t pour much time or energy into it. The audience simply isn’t there. Plus, without customer reviews, your Google+ page itself has very little tangible value for visitors.
As long as you have an updated Google My Business account, users will still be able to find your basic info and customer reviews via search and maps and that’s all you really need from Google at this point. Leave the social media stuff to Facebook.
Next time, on “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll take a look at the effectiveness of social media contests for businesses.