It looks like local business reviews did not make the cut in Google’s latest update to Google+. In an attempt to redesign its social product, Google is placing a greater focus on its Communities and Collections features, and completely removes the display of reviews and other local business information such as addresses, phone numbers, business categories, and hours of operation.

Google+ (Old):

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.00.51 AM

Google+ (New):

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.01.12 AM

As you can see, all business information has been removed on the left side and replaced with just the business name.

Here’s What it Means for Local Businesses

According to sources, the change appears to be permanent. Google’s community manager, Elizabeth Powers, wrote in a business help forum that “Reviews will no longer be shown on the new Google+ design,” however, she reminds users “reviews are still accessible on Google Search and Maps which have always been the primary way that users find business reviews.”

What This Means for You as a Business

As you can imagine, this new change will be a huge concern for local SEO and businesses. Google+ will no longer serve as a pseudo “directory listing page” to solely host business information and reviews. Instead, it will only be a place for business owners to share content to customers and potential customers.

Why are they doing this? The new update from Google was made with intent to encourage business owners to maintain an active presence on Google+ by sharing valuable content. Google’s goal is to separate itself from Facebook, with a greater focus on users’ interests, rather than a focus on “friends”. This is evident in its emphasis on Communities and Collections features in the new redesign. The idea is to provide users with a space to socialize with others that share common interests. However, management of directory listing information, including the ability to respond to reviews, can still be handled separately within the Google My Business dashboard.

The key takeaways businesses need to know are: 1. Google+ will no longer be a place to solely share business information, but a place to share content to attract current and potential customers. 2. The business information you do enter and reviews you receive will be just as important as ever. However, they will only appear in search, Local Finder, Knowledge Graph, and Google Maps.

You can read more about it in Google’s blog post. The new redesign is available on desktop (with mobile on the way).

What do you think of the new Google+ redesign? As a business, will you utilize it as a platform to share content to your customers?

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