Aug 10, 2015 • Jessica Jones
Last week Google announced in a blog post that they’re going to be reducing the dependency of their features on Google+. Right now their announcement is mostly focused on YouTube, and they released a corresponding blog post on the official YouTube blog. The post on the main Google blog makes it clear that YouTube is only the first of their features to undergo a change, however, so we can expect other such decouplings to follow.
<figcaption id="caption-attachment-3525" class="wp-caption-text">Is Google breaking up with Google+? We’re not sure yet, but they seem to be spending some time apart.</figcaption></figure>
What does this mean for Google My Business? We’ll just have to wait and see. Google’s local listing feature, which has gone through quite a few names over the past few years (Google Local, Google Places, Google Places for Business and now Google My Business), is currently closely tied with Google+. Claiming your location through Google My Business automatically creates a Google+ page for that business - something that has created a bit of confusion for businesses that had already set up Google+ presences and then found themselves with another profile created automatically for them. Having the ability to link the two profiles but without a forced entwinement that users have limited control over could be a big usability improvement.
If the YouTube change is any indication, though, existing Google+/Google My Business users probably won’t have to make any changes unless they choose to. YouTube users are soon going to have the ability to separate their Google+ profile from their YouTube channel, but they would need to do so proactively; users who want the two to remain connected or who don’t care enough to make the change will continue on as before. It’s possible that Google My Business will undergo something similar - an update allowing businesses to create a separation between the two if they choose but not forcing it. We’ll discuss it more when we have more concrete information!
Early last year I wrote a post encouraging businesses to maintain a Google+ presence even if they didn’t use it actively as a social network. At the time part of my reasoning was Google+’s link to Google’s local listings. Even if Google does alter the link between the two, however, I will maintain my recommendation that businesses ought to have a profile on Google+ even if it’s not a platform that they’re actively using for marketing or outreach.
Don’t forget that Google+ is Google’s home turf - there is no downside to making sure that your business has an optimized and up-to-date profile set up there. Not only might users stumble across the profile with your business information and link to your website, but it’s also a great way to collect reviews - and five-star Google reviews are a definite SEO boost!
Is Google+ a failed experiment? It certainly doesn’t seem to have gone the way Google initially hoped - when it first launched people were wondering whether it would be the Facebook killer, and four years later it’s pretty clear that that wasn’t meant to be. Since then Google has continued to promote Google+ use - even if you weren’t using it as a social media network you were required to be at least somewhat linked to it in order to use more popular Google offerings like YouTube. Now Google seems to be phasing it out step by step - or at least letting it fade into a more niche position among their features rather than continuing to try to push it as their centerpiece when users clearly weren’t responding to it the way they’d hoped.
So there are plenty of people who are, in fact, claiming that Google+ is a failure, and maybe by some standards that’s true. Google is nothing if not adaptable, however, and consistently willing to either morph or completely scrap unsuccessful projects and keep moving forward. Is Google+ eventually going to go away completely? That remains to be seen - poke around for commentary on the topic and you’ll find plenty of articles proclaiming either that Google+ is dead or that Google+ is very much not dead. It’s entirely possible that Google+ will continue on but with a revised purpose and audience, and it may well end up being successful with a redefined goal. What is certain is that either way, Google will keep doing what Google does and move forward.