What Does the End of Google+ Mean for Local Businesses?

What Does the End of Google+ Mean for Local Businesses?
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Well, you’ve no doubt already heard the news that Google is shutting down its beleaguered social network, Google+ in August 2019. For many of us, this comes as no surprise. The platform has seen fading traffic and, and beyond the activity of a scant few forums, there have been very few reasons to use it.

What has come as a surprise to many is the fact that shuttering Google+’s doors is due not to stagnating use but the revelation that the platform suffered an until-now hidden data leak that potentially affected up to 500,000 accounts.

The other shocker isn’t that it had that many users (b’dum tish) but that it’s the exact same API weakness that allowed Cambridge Analytica to misuse Facebook data. No wonder they tried to keep it hidden!

G’bye, G+!

Google has a chequered history of trying to force the influence of Google+ on other parts of its service, from putting search weight behind content authors’ G+ profiles via the ‘rel=author’ tag and encouraging people to ask questions on G+ to highlighting ‘Latest Posts’ in SERPs. The failure of these attempts at forcing people to use Google+ should be an encouraging reminder to all that even monopolies can have their bad days.

As with any big update The Big G makes, it’s important to take a look at your local business operations and adjust as necessary. While its closure shouldn’t technically affect your local SEO, Google+’s claws were in many places (remember when they forced YouTube and Google+ together?), so I’d recommend taking a look at the below.

What should local businesses do now that Google+ is closing?

Breathe a sigh of relief

Well, that’s one less thing to worry about. Google+ was part of a wave of new social networks that all positioned themselves as pretenders to the twin crowns of Facebook and Twitter, and for a time every local business owner was swimming in apps, wondering which platform was going to be the next breakthrough hit.

With the exception of image-based networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, the new frontier of social media never really materialized. They hung around, sure (Google+ longer than most), but today we focus our sights on the few social media platforms that are truly right for our businesses.

However, this sudden shuttering is a reminder that everything online is transient, temporary. It’s unlikely that you’ve been saving your best content for Google+, but it’s just good practice to place it on your website, which you have total control of, first and foremost. Then you can push it out to social networks.

Put more effort into Google My Business Posts

Google+ may be going, but Google My Business Posts is just getting started. It may not be a social network but it does present a great opportunity to use the kind of content you might have been posting to Google+ in a way that captures people’s attention right there in the SERPs, as part of your GMB profile.

With a 1,500 character limit per GMB Post, there are big opportunities for a variety of announcement and content types here. Check out our piece on crafting a Google My Business Post that will win you more customers.

Don’t worry: this won’t affect your local SEO

Although there once was a time when Google Places (now Google My Business) was integrated heavily with Google+, with the introduction of Google+ Local, that was six long years ago and the relevance of G+ on local SEO in recent years has been pretty much nil. So take heart in the fact that this is one Google update you won’t have to tear your hair out over.

Delete your account?

As for your Google+ personal and business profiles, I’d recommend downloading or saving everything you’d like to keep from them before the platform closes its doors for good. You can do this using an official Google tool called Google Takeout.

Whether you delete your profiles entirely or let Google remove them when the time comes is up to you, but personally I’m a bit too organized to leave a thread like that dangling (that’s if I can find my password, of course). Plus if the platform is susceptible to data leaks it might make sense to take that data out of their hands sooner rather than later.

Ditch the social sharing buttons from your site

Ah, there’s nothing like getting rid of fluff from your site. You’ve probably long squinted at the minimal interactions your G+ sharing buttons have been getting compared to others, and will celebrate the fact that you can now get shot of them.

Make sure you take stock of all the places Google+ is linked to throughout your site and beyond, such as:

  • Social sharing buttons
  • Icon links to social networks in website header/footer
  • Company and personal email signatures
  • In-store signage
  • ‘Write a G+ review’ links
  • Printed marketing collateral

Find new local search communities

Back in February, we asked you what your favorite local search communities were, and Google+ took up a surprising three of the top ten spots. As a part of these communities myself, I’ll be sad to see them go, but the word on the virtual street is that they’re already seeking new homes on Facebook.

Look out for the following communities on Facebook, or join them today to learn when/if they move home:

I’d personally recommend checking out the other communities on that list of twenty, and I’d like to give a particular shout-out to the one-of-a-kind Local Search Forum, recently acquired by Joy Hawkins and Sterling Sky. We’re always sharing insights and news over there, so why not come and say ‘hi’?

A professional perspective

I admit I wasn’t an avid user of Google+, so I wanted to get the opinion of someone who used it a lot. Here’s SteadyDemand’s Ben Fisher with his eulogy:

“Google+ helped nearly 1,000 of our customers connect with their current and future customers in a meaningful way for the past six years. Having the ability to boost local rankings based on interactions with semantically relevant content that people actually read was a silver bullet for many of our agency clients.

“Our clients and team enjoyed using the platform tremendously and are very sad that it’s closing in August of next year. We understand the platform will still be available for enterprise use beyond August, but can’t profess loudly enough that today’s version of Google+ is loved by those who use it and will be sorely missed. We encourage everyone to use Google+ while it’s still available; we certainly will!”

What do you think?

As we say adieu to Google+, it just remains for me to see what you all thought of the platform. Did you find some use with it, or was it just another thing to keep track of?

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16 thoughts on “What Does the End of Google+ Mean for Local Businesses?”

  1. Shutting down G+ was a long time due. I don’t even remember when I last used Google Plus. I think Google was waiting for some scandals to happen with G+ to shut it down so that they can save their faces.

    1. Hi Ahana, it’s a theory that a lot of people seem to be getting behind. What surprises me is that there seems to have been barely any legal reaction to the massive privacy issue!

      Jamie

  2. Hello! I am trying to figure out the best time to pull the plug on Google+. A few articles mention an enterprise version will still be available. Do you think this will affect business profiles? Also, when are you going to start deleting your profiles and removing the website icons, social share buttons, and more? I noticed the social share icons on this website still have G+ as an option. Thank you!

    1. Hi Antonella,

      Well, it depends how much use you’re getting from the current enterprise aspect. Google’s official message on their blog post about the shutdown is:

      “We have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies. Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses. We will share more information in the coming days.”

      These certainly seem more about internal use than any wider benefit businesses will get from keeping their Google+ accounts active. We’re still awaiting further details about what they have planned on the enterprise side of things, so perhaps it makes sense to await this announcement before choosing to delete your profile?

      As for G+ social buttons on our site, I can only tell you that I requested these were removed on the day of this announcement and I’m tapping my foot waiting, too!

      Thanks

      Jamie

  3. I was hearing all of the news lately about G+ shutting down and was wondering if it would affect link juice flow for websites that have connections to G+, like what I have….. very relieved to read this article and find the answer is no.

    And I agree, Google My Business SEO & social posts are the way to go. It’s important to understand that big G is really focusing their attention on getting search visitors to never leave the search engine when engaging with businesses.

    1. Hi Alexander, thanks for sharing your viewpoint. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with that last point. What they do with SERPs is out of our control so we need to be sure that our GMB profiles are as eye-catching, trustworthy and content-filled as they can be.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  4. Hi Jamie, I read the data leak being given as the reason for shuttering G+ as face-saving PR for Google so they don’t have to lead with “we’re closing it because it failed”. Can’t say I’ll miss it – one less activity to consider in an over-crowded schedule.

    1. Hi Ewan, it’s certainly a possibility! Given that they seem to have completely gotten away with it suggests that is was the right move for them.

      Jamie

  5. Well it’s about time, lol. I felt like they’ve only kept it around for so long because they didn’t want to admit defeat, or that they’d failed at creating a successful social network. Kinda sad that it took a data breach for them to finally call it quits.

    1. Hi Sam,

      Yes, admitting defeat isn’t really in their DNA, is it? Google Glass seemed to quietly fade out of public view, but ditching G+ is a very public move so it likely took something like this to bury their failure under.

      Thanks

      Jamie

  6. We know all too well how Google+ affects search rankings with Google+ and Likes integrated into almost every website you land on. As Google Shutting down G+, I am curious to know, How its gonna Impact SEO? What about Google Business Page?

    1. Hi Saurabh, the elements you’ve mentioned haven’t affected SEO for a very long time, so you shouldn’t see any impact on your rankings or your GMB profile.

      Thanks

      Jamie

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