First Impressions of the New Google+
This week I thought I’d do a test run of the new Google+ user interface. However, this was far more than a user interface update. Things are very different and pose significant questions and challenges when it comes to promoting your business with a Google+ page, especially local pages.
Remember the pain going through the integration of Google Places with Google+ and YouTube with Google+? We were forced to create Google+ pages, and so we did, leaving a trail of blank duplicate pages in our wake. So now, Google+ comes back and says… nevermind…
The New Google+ is focused on collections and topic interests and has dumped much of the integration we’ve finally gotten used to and many of the features that made it attractive for social media marketing of our businesses. There are other articles discussing the new focus, but I’m going to talk about what’s going away and what it means for you if you have a business page.
New G+ Layout Changes… Let’s Go!
Google+ will keep asking you if you want to try the new Google+ in the header of every page. When you finally do, the most obvious changes are in the layout.
That menu that appeared when your cursor hovered over the Profile button has been replaced with a static menu. You’ll notice there are a few things missing now, like Events and Hangouts. The old circular looking user interface for Circles is replaced with boring list of circles in the Following tab of the People section.
The cover image is wider and the profile image is much smaller. This may just seem like a layout change, but it could dramatically impact a business page if the profile image has small text which is now unreadable, or it could shift the positioning of your cover image. I recommend you check what your business page looks like in the new layout and adjust your header images accordingly.
For example, the Google Small Business page sports a logo where the words “Small Business” is too small to read!
Also note that the details about my website, workplace, education and location that used to be under my profile image are now gone and replaced by my tagline. Hopefully it’s all available in the About section… Wait! Where’s the About tab?
Where Did the Tabs Go?
That familiar horizontal band of tabs under your cover image, usually About, Posts, Photos, YouTube, Reviews – they’re gone! Where did they go?
Well instead of the About tab, there’s a tiny little info icon that launches a pop-up with only the most basic info. If you own the page and click on it, you can’t see it, because Google+ sends you automatically to a page that lets you edit it. So you can’t even check what it looks like!
People Profiles “About” Information Less Detailed
For people profiles, much of your About information is still there, but any wordy details have been removed. Your Introduction and Bragging Rights are gone, and the Work & Education section only shows your positions and dates, without any descriptions to go along with them. They display a handful of people in your circles but that’s it.
Business Pages “About” Information Mostly GONE
For Google+ business page information, the axe fell hard. If you spent time to write wonderful optimized descriptions of your business, along with your address, business category and business hours, it’s nowhere to be seen. Here’s what’s missing from the formerly known as the About section:
- No business description.
- No business category.
- No business hours.
- No Google+ URL displayed (see below for issues with the URL).
- No map or street view.
- No reviews or review summary.
- No photos (you’re supposed to be using Google Photos now).
- No videos or YouTube link.
- No list of people who have you in their circles.
- Only a handful of people in their circles is displayed, you cannot see any more.
Broken Google+ URL Links
If you have a custom Google+ URL and created links that included numbers in it, they now are broken and you will have to update anything with those links with the shortened custom URL. Google+ is not redirecting them. But it’s sneakier than that. If you’re logged in as the owner of a business page with that kind of URL, it will still redirect. If you’re not, you get an error. So while you’re logged in, you may never know that your old links are broken for everyone else.
For example, https://plus.google.com/b/108992537337231070619/+DragonSearchMarketing works when I’m logged in as that page.
But that link isn’t usable elsewhere.
So if you copy and pasted that link to use elsewhere to send people to your G+ page, you’d better update them. Now you should only use your custom URL, in this case, https://plus.google.com/+DragonSearchMarketing.
Searching in Communities
Do you like to look for topics of interest in Google+ Communities? Well, now you’ll have to do that annoying scroll down, scroll down, over and over and over until you’ve loaded enough content to do a full page search from your browser. The Search community search box is gone.
What About My Google+ Business Reviews?
The question for businesses who have a presence on Google+ is what happens to their reviews? They are still visible in the Google.com search results or in Google Maps. The Write a review button is available on those platforms. But no longer on Google+.
What To Do Now?
If you were about to use Google My Business to set up Google+ pages for your business locations, I would wait until the dust settles and we have a clear picture of what Google’s intentions are. This could be a total abandonment of making Google+ an attractive place for businesses to market themselves. Based on the negative outcry, Google could change their mind and add back some features. In the meantime:
- Check your business pages in the new format. You may need to change your profile picture to accommodate the tiny size, or reposition your cover image.
- Ensure any other places that link to your Google+ page have a URL that still works.
- Any marketing material that directed people to leave reviews for your business on Google+ need to be modified to leave reviews on Maps or Search results.
- Forget using Google+ for announcing events.
What Does It All Mean?
The new Google+ is still in “Preview mode.” Google is still leaving the option to use the “Classic” or the new Google+, but we suspect it’s only a matter of time before “Classic” goes away. Who knows? Maybe they’ll return some of the features that appear to have been removed in the new Google+. Maybe they won’t.
I suspect Google is now trying to decouple Google+ from the painful integration it forced us through with YouTube and Maps/Places. I don’t know what this means yet for Google My Business, which required us to make Google+ pages for all of our business locations instead of previously using Google Places to manage our map locations. Without the connection to maps, reviews and YouTube, as well as without the rich information we could put in the About section, Google+ seems a small shell of its former self. It could end up being a place to claim your digital real estate, put the basic contact information on your page, and spend your time elsewhere. We shall see.