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Google+ is dead – long live Google My Business

by  David Dwyer on  22/05/2019    292 Reads

Global vs Local Searches

Google+, Google’s social media offering, officially ceased operation on the 2nd of April 2019. 

Going head to head with Facebook was always going to be a tall order, even for the mighty Google, so what does this mean for those who actually used Google+?

The consumer version of Google+ is indeed gone, accounts & data are being deleted.  There appear to have been two reasons for its demise; one was the poor uptake, but much more pressing was the discovery of a gaping data flaw in the API which had potentially left hundreds of thousands of users data vulnerable.  Google claims that they found no evidence of the flaw having been exploited but decided, probably because of the failure of Google+ to develop any real traction, to remove the service altogether rather than rewriting the code.

Google+ hasn’t completely disappeared, it is still available as part of the G-Suite package, aimed firmly at the business community where it can be used as an internal social and information sharing platform.  Google has worked to add functionality to Google+ that suits an enterprise-wide deployment, making managing permissions easier, adding groups and overall turning into an effective internal communications and idea sharing tool.  The permissions management can ensure that Google+ communications stay within an organisation.

This development likely makes financial sense for Google as they, like so many of the big software vendors, see benefits and profits from addressing the needs of enterprise as opposed to the thankless task of trying to out-Facebook Facebook, despite that company’s well publicised data privacy woes of late.

Where does that leave you?

If you are a small business owner, you may lament the passing of Google+, as a social sharing platform, if you used it to promote your business online.  There are alternatives available, Facebook itself being one of the obvious choices. However, if you are wedded to the Google ecosystem, or desire a platform that is geared to business specifically there is another option which you can take advantage of and which shouldn’t cost you anything other than your time – Google My Business.

We have written previously about Google My Business (GmB) and why you should claim your business listing.  If GmB is new to you, we strongly suggest you take a brief break from this piece, and go and check out why it is important, from one of our older articles on why google business listings are important.

Google my Business allows you do a number of things, including posting information and images that will appeal to, or inform, your customers.

Google my Business

As you can see you can add updates, events offers and products, but have a look at the menu bar at the side as well:

Google my Business side menu example

There is a great deal more you can do though, which we’ll cover in future blogs.

One aspect that we love about this though is that there is no hiding place insofar as how it is performing. Via “Insights”, you can also see statistics on how well your listing is doing, whether that be:

  • Increased Phone Calls direct from your listing
  • Requests for Directions to your location
  • Visits to your website
  • Number of Times your photos have been viewed
  • Or spike in traffic following a particular post etc. 

You could do nearly all that you could through Google+, but there are clear advantages to claiming and using your GmB listing.

Because GmB is used as the foundation for the Knowledge Graph Panel, which is an aggregation of the knowledge of the web into a single place that also includes Google Reviews, we are seeing some significant consequences for other Platforms: so-called, or indeed glorified. “Social Platforms” and “Trust/Review Based Platforms” including Trip Advisor, TrustPilot, FeeFo, Bark.com. They seem to be experiencing direct traffic drops on the back of their ratings now being seen directly from the Knowledge Graph Panel. Given Google have their own preferred Review Ratings at the top of the Knowledge Graph Panel versus the other entities “Review Ratings” being included only at the bottom of the Panel shows that Google Reviews remain King.

GmB isn’t a social media app per se..It is, as the name suggests, geared towards your business. As a means for promoting a business, it is not only a more focussed tool than any social media app, all of which try to be all things to all users, it is the building block from which Google are capturing, aggregating and displaying the “knowledge of the web”.

Given Google’s love of connecting everything, if anyone searches for a profession or trade in your area, you’ll now see the Google Map Pack returning the top three businesses, based on the Knowledge Graph Panel, not just GmB, ahead of the rest of the search page – if that’s your business, that is instant visibility right there. 

Moreover, searchers will get relevant information about your business – how to get in touch, opening hours and what you do. 

Google’s review system built into Google my Business has also evolved over the years from their old objective based Zagat based scoring system of 6 questions, with 5 choices to now a simple single subjective 5 star rating. They’ve chosen to move to this approach to make it easier and consequently more likely that users will leave reviews. In essence they’ve sacrificed quality over quantity and objectivity v subjectivity. 

 

Global vs local

Google my Business is geared towards local searches. This undoubtably benefits bricks and mortar businesses.  If you run a café or a gift shop and someone is visiting the town you are based in, the benefits should be clear.  They search for a café, your listing pops up telling them who you are, what you do and importantly where you are.  Google will literally lead them to your door via Google maps if necessary.  That is powerful advertising right there, and it’s free to you.  There is no surfing websites, although they can visit your site from your listing, the information is clean and immediate and probably without realising it, users are accustomed to seeing information served up to them in this format.

 

But…

In truth, the question for businesses is not ‘why should you use Google my Business’, rather than ‘why wouldn’t you use it’?  Granted, like any online service it will benefit you more if you are willing to actively use and manage it, but that is all Google asks of you – your time.  There is no cost associated with it and although it appears aimed at smaller local businesses, lots of large multinational concerns use it too – they realise that local advertising plays a key role despite them spanning the globe.  For that reason, you will see the likes of Costa and Starbucks cropping up in search results.  You might see that as overbearing competition but imagine if your café appears in a search result alongside those behemoths.  Isn’t that telling potential customers that at least locally your offerings are on a par with theirs?

 

In conclusion, GmB will allow you to develop your online presence in a coherent form, but it will not solve many businesses fragmented, fractured and diluted online presence. For more info get in touch and we can discuss how we can help?  Contact us to discover how to make your future better.

Google Analytics, Google My Business, Local SEO, Search Engine Optimisation
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