For months, Google has been making an effort to phase out the association between Google+ and Google Maps. Google+ pages don’t even appear in most search results anymore and listings are automatically pointed to Google Maps.
Google+ first launched in June of 2011. It was actually Google’s fourth attempt to compete against sites like Facebook and to join the social networking craze. Although there was growth for Google+, its engagement was still very low compared to competitors.
In order to integrate Google Maps into Google+, and to help spread awareness, the company decided to give all business map listings a local Google+ page. They would also require people to have Google+ accounts to leave reviews on business pages. For some small businesses, Google+ became somewhat of an external website for businesses- which was an advantage for companies without websites. Remember, nearly 55% of U.S. based SMBs still don’t have a website.
There has recently been a complete separation of local business pages from Google+. Now, users are directed to a business’ Google Maps listing, rather than their Google+ page. If you have been using a Google+ page to direct customers to leave reviews, then you should replace that with your Google Maps listing. You can find this URL by selecting the Share button or within your Google My Business dashboard.
However, even this feature still seems to be a work in progress. As you can see in the picture below, when clicking on Reviews, Google redirects users to Google Search results to view them.
The elimination of Google+ pages have resulted in challenges responding to reviews because the maps pages don't have response links. In the past, if logged into Google My Business, a respond button would show up. However, now a user is required to find their listing in Google My Business in order to respond. All Google clients are feeling the pain of this and there has been a lot of frustration and negative feedback within the industry. It's very likely that Google will change their user interface again to better support responding to reviews amidst this pressure.
Local search and SEO is constantly evolving. Unfortunately, most businesses have little control over these changes or have any idea on how these changes are affecting their listings, rankings, and local SEO strategies. At Chatmeter, we help give you back control to quickly see how these changes are impacting your local SEO strategy and what you need to do to fix it. Contact us today for a free demonstration