In many ways, we in the SEO world may feel that Google is invaluable. After all, think of the effort SEO professionals have to put in to try and decipher Google’s algorithms in order to help our clients adapt. However, even the most successful companies are bound to put out a clunker every now and again. That’s what many people are saying following the fate of Google+, the social network attempt that recently shut down consumer operations following a data breach. But what does this mean for the businesses that may still have been using Google+? And will this have greater ramifications for the digital marketing landscape? Let’s take a closer look.
What Went Wrong With Google+?
Google+ never quite took off as a social media sharing service in the way that Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn did. In that regard, Google planning to position it as an enterprise service for corporations may not be that surprising, especially in the wake of a massive data breach. However, from an SEO perspective, Google+ proved to be a bit of a headache. Here are some of the reasons why:
The Ranking Question
One may remember back in 2011 when Google launched the +1 buttons for various websites. At the time, Google pushed with a wink and a nudge that these buttons would potentially influence search quality and rankings. Studies would end up being inconclusive whether or not this was the case, and in time, as the popularity of Google+ waned, so did Google’s stance on this concept. At least, with Google+ dead, the question is finally solved.
Search+ Your World
While this didn’t impact ranking, Google’s attempt to try and personalize search results tried to use your social media to influence your results. For example, photos and posts from your account would factor into search results. Needless to say, this is something that SEO professionals would find frustrating. This functionality has since been removed.
This is more frustrating on a consumer level rather than a professional one, but Google has tried to make Google+ mandatory or nearly-mandatory for a variety of services over the years, from YouTube to Gmail.
Overall, a lot of the true impact Google+ had on SEO has been phased out, but this development means that it’s officially no longer something you need to have in the back of your head.
Actionable Advice For Your Business
At the moment, while Google has said it plans to keep Google+ around for businesses specifically, there’s still no concrete information on what those functions will entail. For the time being, here’s what businesses should do to adapt from an SEO perspective.
Keep an eye out for future news
In case you have data on Google+ you want to save, Google has stated it will provide information on how to migrate data off the platform over the coming months. In the meantime, you may want to keep any sensitive information off the platform due to the nature of the data breach. There is also an official tool called Google Takeout that can get this done quicker if you wish.
Be sure to remove any Google+ related links
It’s best practice to try and have social media buttons on your site for people to reach your pages quicker, but it’s also best practice to make sure that you get rid of any broken links as quickly as possible to protect your ranking. While Google+ pages technically aren’t down yet, there’s no need to have links to a platform that’s dying out. In a worst case scenario, you forget to delete the links/buttons when it does go down, and this hurts your ranking.
In addition, anything related to Google+ in your digital marketing should start being phased out now. This means taking it out of your email signatures, in-store signage and materials, as well as any social sharing buttons you have implemented in your content.
Be sure to boost your Google My Business profile
For a while, it seemed like Google+ was going to be the new frontier for local SEO, but that fizzled out long before we got to this point. However, Google My Business is another local SEO tool that every single business owner should be using. For one, putting your information in this online directory is the only way that your business will show up on Google Maps. This is essential not only for making your business more visible, but allowing it to show up on proximity-based mobile searches.
Ideally, you want to put as much effort into this profile as possible, adding links to your website, images, and even trying to cultivate reviews on the platform. This is because a Google My Business listing improves your SEO ranking.
Figure out how to transfer existent content/communities
While you’re probably working on phasing out Google+ related content, you don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. In some cases, people have created effective communities on the platform, particularly on a local level. Make sure that you have somewhere else you’re going to bring this to, like Facebook or LinkedIn Groups. If you’re doing this, try to set a concrete transition date to make sure no one gets left out.
While it’s not likely that many businesses were using Google+ as a central component of their digital marketing strategy in this day and age, any major Google-related news is big news for people who rely on SEO. If you’re wondering about some specific advice on how your business should adapt, or perhaps how to fulfill a function that Google+ once provided for you, consider reaching out to an SEO professional for custom coaching and advice.