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The digital age has made it easier than ever to connect with people from all parts of the world.

Log in to your favorite social platform, and you can immediately see all the latest updates from friends and companies you follow. Facebook is undoubtedly the most popular network with over a billion active monthly users. But others such as Instagram and Snapchat are quickly gaining in popularity thanks to widespread smartphone adoption.

Google+ is the search giant’s answer to the rising popularity of social networking. The platform has experienced strong growth in recent years and has become an important marketing channel for companies of all sizes. If you have recently logged into your profile, you may have noticed some new changes.

New Google+ Redesign

Google recently made the following announcement in a blog post detailing the changes:

“Today, we’re starting to introduce a fully redesigned Google+ that puts Communities and Collections front and center. Now focused around interests, the new Google+ is much simpler. And it’s more mobile-friendly—we’ve rebuilt it across web, Android and iOS so that you’ll have a fast and consistent experience whether you are on a big screen or small one.”

But what does it all mean? And what are Communities and Collections? Most importantly, how do the changes affect local SEO? Here we look at what the new Google+ changes bring and what it means for your business.

A More Minimal Interface

The most obvious change is the interface.
The interface still maintains the same card design for an optimized browsing experience for users on mobile devices. But profiles are now much simpler with even less information on the page.

Here is what the older layout looks like:

Google Plus Profile Example

The previous layout was certainly more information rich as users could easily see relevant business information such as contact details, photos, and customer reviews. The new Google+ design strips away the following:

  • Maps/directions
  • Operating hours
  • Photo uploads
  • Business categories
  • Reviews

And here is the newer design:

New Google Plus Profile Example

Users can switch between the two layouts but the older one will eventually be phased out. So what we are left with is a much more minimal layout. Recent posts are still displayed but business information is now only visible by clicking on the info icon:

Google Plus Business Information

Communities and Collections

Social media networks have always focused on communication and connections.

The changes to Google+ now make it easier for users to find common interests and discover new content related to those subjects. Two features that gain more prominence are Communities and Collections with links to the both in the new navigation on the left-hand side. Here is a brief overview of each:

  • Communities: Communities are exactly what they sound like—Groups around common interests from traveling to gaming and much more. Communities now averages 1.2 million new joins a day according to Google.
  • Collections: Collections makes it easy for users to group posts by topic. Collections can be shared publicly, privately or with a specific group of people.

When making a post to your Google+ profile, you can choose which Community or Collection to share to. Members of those groups will then be able to see your content and view more of your previous posts.

What Do These Changes Mean For Local SEO?

SEO remains a crucial part of building an online presence.

The new changes to Google+ are meant to focus on those aspects that have worked (e.g. Communities and Collections) while maintaining a simpler design. The end result is a social network that makes it easier for users to share and discover new content.

One change that may appear confusing is that local business information is now hidden from view. One reason for this is simply because searchers are still able to see business information and ratings directly from the search results.

Here is an example of a local search for restaurants:

Local Search Results

Clicking on a result provides even more information about that business, without even having to view its Google+ page. So it’s not surprising then Google would change how this information is displayed.

The new Google+ redesign then shouldn’t impact local SEO. If anything it will make it easier for users on the Google+ social network to discover new content shared by your business. This makes implementing a content marketing strategy more important than ever.

Google+ is one of the most popular social networks to share and discover new content. The search giant recently redesigned its social platform to be simpler and more intuitive for users. The changes are mostly visual and won’t necessarily impact how local businesses attract customers from search.

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