In recent months we’ve seen a flood of changes and updates overtake the Google world as we know it. Google+ has served as an effective social tool for small businesses for several years. Its integration with Google Maps and Google My Business, in addition to its advantage in Google search visibility, have made it a useful platform on which to promote a business and ensure that the business shows up in search results. However, many recent reports have predicted the Google+ apocalypse, partially because Google’s recent changes seem to be moving away from Google+. But then, this happened: the official Google blog announced big changes to Google+ last week, and with those changes a whole new potential for the future of Google+.
The Separation of Google+ and Local
Google+ is increasingly becoming separated from Google search. Where it used to hold a special place in searches and was always easy to spot in search results, now it’s much more difficult to find. Before recent changes, the typical local search would bring up a 3-pack of the top search results, along with a button at the bottom to view additional results. Clicking one of the links in the 3-pack would lead to a pages known as the “Local Finder” page, where you could see additional information about the business.
Now, the 3-pack is gone and replaced by a results panel on the left, showing all the top results, with a clickable information panel on the right. There is no visible link to Google+, which effectively separates Google+ from search. This is evidence of Google’s shift toward emphasizing Google+ as its own community rather than as a local Google search tool.
Google is now focusing on making Google+ a stronger community. Google+ communities provide users a way to make connections based on shared interests. Social Media Today reported that as Google has gradually changed the way Google+ works, the G+ communities began to shine as the network’s biggest strength, providing an especially helpful link for “technical and niche communities that have built up strong, loyal, and highly beneficial networks through Google+ groups.” The release of Google+ Collections a few months ago built upon that solid community base.
Collections, Collections, Collections
Google+ Collections allows users to group posts into categories. In some ways similar to Pinterest, users can create collections based on various topics that they are interested in and then share those collections with whomever they want. You can also browse through other users’ collections to find even more content about the topics you like. This new emphasis on collections and communities was built for how users are actually using the site, showing that Google is dedicating time towards redirecting Google+ into a platform that people will continue to use and love. While it’s unlikely that Google+ will ever rival social media power players like Facebook, it’s certainly far from dead. We look forward to seeing how the network continues to evolve and how it will be used.