A New Look for Google+ Local Pages
Last week Google made some major changes to Google+ Local pages – just in time to one-up Facebook's announcement of major changes to its news feed. What’s striking about this round of Google+ changes is that they are mostly aesthetic, including alterations to local review tabs, simpler information editing and bigger cover photos. The following is an excerpt from Google’s March 6 announcement:
• “A new tab for your Local reviews. In addition to your photos, +1's and YouTube videos, there's now a place for all your Local reviews. Highlight your favorite restaurants, or hide the tab completely via settings -- it's completely up to you.
• An easier way to edit your info. The 'About' tab now consists of separate cards (like Story, Places, and Links) -- each with its own prominent edit link. As always: you can share specific fields with specific circles, or keep them just for you.
• Bigger cover photos, with a better aspect ratio. Cover photos are much larger than before (up to 2120px by 1192px), and they display in 16x9 when fully expanded. This way more images can be used as cover photos, and there’s more room for your selection to shine.”
Check out Marketing Land's article to see examples of these changes.
Will these changes, which will roll out gradually, have a direct impact on search engine results pages? The answer is still to be determined, but based on what we’ve seen over the last week, the direct impact is minimal or non-existent. However, these changes are a marked improvement in Google+ page appearance, which can have a positive impact on user experience – which in turn has a circular impact on search results.
This is the fourth major change Google+ has made since January 1. Previous changes are listed below:
• New dashboard for page managers
• Self-selection feature for categories (Note: multiple custom created categories can be a spam signal to Google)
• "Report a Problem" requests now go directly to Map Maker rather than Places to Map Maker
• Mobile Local results (this is not specifically tied to Google+ but has impact)
At this velocity, 2013 is going to be a busy year for Google+. We'll keep you posted on any significant changes.