The many ways Google has created to help people on the internet has been one of the company’s greatest strengths. However, finding a way to integrate that data into seamless experience has been one of the great challenges of search giant. Though most changes are for the better, a recent redesign by Google may annoy some small business owners. Google has taken the Google Reviews off of the display of Google+ pages for businesses.
A couple of weeks ago Google announced changes to the layout of information on Google+ communities. The new, streamlined view removes useful information such as addresses, phone numbers and hours of operation.
The most annoying change for some small business owners has been the removal of reviews from the Google+ page. The move has been unpopular since people first began noticing the change. Google has stuck to their guns, while explaining to business owners where the reviews can still be found.
“Reviews will no longer be shown on Google+ Pages in the new Google+ design,” Elizabeth Powers, a Google community manager, explained on a post on the Google My Business help forum. “Reviews are still accessible on Google Search and Maps which have always been the primary way that users find business reviews.”
Though the reviews are still available, the change means that fans can’t leave a review directly from the Google+ page for a business. Similarly, the ability to see and add reviews from the Google+ page was a reason for businesses to send their fans there. It it’s own way the change makes businesses less likely to use their Google+ page since they will need to direct people to Google Maps.
For businesses that have cultivated a lot of reviews, the change can seem like a stab in the back. Though this change appears to be permanent, and not simply a test, there is a chance that Google will backtrack if the outcry from business is strong enough, or if it leads to a noticeable decline in engagement.
SEO expert Mike Blumenthal has given a very negative assessment of the situation. In his blog post discussing the change, he wrote, “Over the past two years I have discussed the parting of the ways between local and Plus but through all of that Google had retained the essence of tabbed business pages and given the owner the ability to add a description, photos, videos and provided a place to send customers to see and leave their reviews. That is all gone. In focusing on content, communities and collections Google has hung out a new and bold sign. If you haven’t gotten the message yet it should finally be clear in the release of their new and improved G+: BUSINESS UNWELCOME.”
While Google will certainly argue that this is not the case, it’s hard to see how these changes make it easier and more effective for small business that are using Google+ as one of many platforms for promoting their business.
While on the subject of unhelpful changes from Google, some marketers may have seen a decline in their new video views on YouTube. YouTube has removed the “All Activity” feature from subscritions that used to show fans of a channel other videos and channels liked by that channel. To illustrate, if a popular YouTuber liked a video from someone new, all of the popular YouTuber’s fans would be exposed to the new video and channel.
Removing the All Activity feed makes YouTube less useful for virally spreading content. Essentially, YouTube removed the social aspect of platform.
Unfortunately, Google is still the biggest game in town for search, map listings, and online video content. So while these changes may be annoying, it’s something that business owners will have to adapt to.
For more news about changes from Google, read this article about new features Google has added to improve mobile marketing.