First Impressions of the New Google+

New banner to preview the new Google+

Yeah, MUCH simpler.

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.

Example of the old Google+ profile layout.

Old Google+ profile layout

Example of the new Google+ profile layout.

New Google+ profile 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!

Google Small Business G+ page has a profile image too small to read.

Teeny tiny profile image

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?

Old Google+ tabs

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:

All of the Google+ About features that have gone with the new interface.

I guess Google+ didn’t think these were important anymore.

 

What's in the new Info pop-up on Google+ pages instead of the About section.

The new Google+ info pop-up replacing the About section.

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.

The long number version of a G+ URL that works if logged in as that page.

G+ URL with numbers works when logged in as that page.

But that link isn’t usable elsewhere.

The long number version of a G+ URL that doesn't work if not logged in as that page.

Same URL doesn’t work when not logged in as that page.

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.

Example of old G+ community search box.                  The new G+ community layout doesn't have a search function.

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+.

Seeing and leaving reviews in the search engine results for a business.

You can still leave reviews on the Google search results.

Write a review from Google Maps listing.

You can still leave reviews on Google Maps.

 

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:

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.

The link to return to classic Google+ interface.

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.

 


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