The past few months have seen Google make some big changes in the local SEO space. Most of these changes stem back to the fact that Google has finally accepted that Google+ will never be Facebook and all their attempts to effectively ‘force’ people to use Google+ including tying YouTube to the platform are starting to be uncoupled.
And while that will not impact most users or business owners the fact that Google has also announced that they are going to “unverify” inactive Google+ Local pages could have an impact on local listings.
What does this mean for business owners?
Back in 2012 Google made the decision to combine what was Google+ Local pages and Google Places together and automatically provide 80 million businesses with Google+ Local pages. While that might seem a little confusing the crux is that whether you know it or not you probably have a Google+ Local page.
If you have never verified that page or Google perceives the page owner to be unresponsive then the page might be shut down.
According to a message that has been in the local search forums:
In the past few months, you may have seen some changes in the look of Google+ pages that have been associated with Google My Business (GMB) accounts. These changes, including how we treat business pages without owners, are part of Google’s ongoing effort to simplify people’s experience with our tools. We are constantly working to provide only valuable and rich content to our users.
On July 28th, Google will begin shutting down those GMB–associated Google+ pages that have not been associated with user accounts and are also not verified. You may find that some of your Business View tours also sit on such pages, but note that after their removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.
How does this affect your business?
First off, it depends whether you have verified your Google+ pages.
If you haven’t verified your Google+ local page then here is some advice for you to follow from the Google Maps team:
Encourage your business customers to verify their listings if they wish to retain their Google My Business page.
If a business owner decides later that they would like to have a Google My Business page, please advise them to create a new page and verify their listing. The Business View virtual tour can be then transferred to the new verified listing.
Please log a case to our support teams to request that images for your business customer be forwarded to the new GMB page. Please point your business customer to their images in Google Maps.
If you have verified your Google+ page then you will have nothing to worry about. In fact I would hesitate to suggest that if your page is verified and optimzsed then you will be getting an advantage over your competition as more and more competing pages will be removed from the Google+ listing. Leaving customers and clients in need of your services a greater chance of finding your business first.
If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic, put them in the comments box below.