Have you been on your Google+ Local page recently and wondered why everything looks so terribly unfamiliar? It’s no secret that Google is always and forever updating its products, and the Google+ social network was the latest to get a major overhaul.
The tech giant launched a redesigned interface Nov. 17 that makes users’ Collections (posts targeted by interest) and Communities (groups organized by a mutual interest) easier to see in their home streams. At the same time, the Google+ Local pages for businesses were streamlined to share the look and feel of individual profiles. The new, simpler design no longer includes easy access to certain information, including the company’s business category, operating hours, and customer reviews — including the related star ratings.
Out with the Old
If you need a quick reminder of how the old pages looked, you can see from this classic view of The Web Guys‘ page that it integrated local information, posts, Google Photos, and YouTube on separate tabs:
The New Look
Now, when you log into your Google+ account, you’ll have the option to switch to the new layout — available on Android, iOS, and desktop. Because the pages are intended to be simpler and faster, several features were removed:
The new profile includes a company’s Google+ posts and Collections; however, many features are clearly missing from this new interface. Here’s a quick breakdown on which ones have been removed:
Business categories, maps, directions, and hours are no longer supported on Local pages. Company information is boiled down to the physical address and website URL, but users can only see this content by clicking on the information symbol just left of the Follow button.
Google Photos App
Photo uploads also didn’t make the cut. Avid users of Google Photos felt the service would be better if it were separated from the social network. Google listened, delivering a standalone app that offers better uploading and photo-management functionality.
Star Rating and Reviews
Perhaps the biggest shakeup — and the one likely to have the most impact — is the elimination of Google reviews and star ratings from a company’s profile. After all, industry research reveals that about 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations when making a purchasing decision. And although reviews are no longer featured on Google+ Local pages, the silver lining is that users can still access them when searching for businesses on Google Maps.
How Do I Get Reviews Now?
If you’ve been directing satisfied customers to leave a review on your Google+ Local page, don’t throw the towel in quite yet. Star ratings still show up next to the business name in Google Maps results, which can persuade potential customers to select your business’s link over competitors’ in the same service area. Since getting Google reviews is still just as important as ever, feel free to share our easy instructions on how customers can now write a review for your business:
- Sign into your Google account and open Google Maps.
- Search for the name of the business.
- Below the business contact information, click on the “Write a Review” link to rate and describe your experience.
For more information about finding and adding reviews, seek support from Google Maps Help, or contact The Web Guys.
If you tried the new layout but want to access previous features, you can always click the “Back to classic G+” link in the lower left corner of your screen. For questions about the new Google+ pages and any other updates in the evolving world of digital marketing, call The Web Guys at (317) 805-4933, and we’ll lend our expertise.