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What Brands Need to Know About the Google+ Shutdown

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Google+ is dead. Not in the same way that online marketing media has been reporting its death for the past five years. We mean officially dead as of April 2 2019. There’s no reason to dig into the reason why, but certainly the hack that compromised the data of nearly half-a-million users didn’t help. All that businesses need to know now, is how to adjust, because in addition to public profiles, Google+ brand pages are being dismissed too. Will this impact your online marketing strategy? Will it hurt your website’s SEO? Is there anything that needs to be done before the deadline? Let’s find out.

5 Things Your Business Needs to Do Before Your Google+ Brand Page is Gone for Good

1. Focus on Your Google My Business Page

Google My Business (GMB) pages are not going anywhere. If your local business already has one, you’re already set for the transition. If you’ve been following the best practice of sharing newly published content from your website on to Google+, start doing so on your GMB page instead. This feature is available at the top of your GMB dashboard, so you can’t miss it. Just sign in to your GMB page and you’ll see “Create Post”. If you don’t yet have a GMB page in place for your local business, start one now.

What if you’re not a local business that services customers from a physical address? While Google My Business does require that you provide an address, you can also hide that address (if you want to) from consumer eye and add geographic locations that you service. For example, a financial consultant based in Calgary may also service clients in Edmonton AB and Vancouver BC. In this case, the consultant would use their Calgary business address (even if a home office) as the primary, and then add the other locations (Edmonton and Vancouver) as a part of their service area. Granted, this does open your consulting business up to Google Reviews, but as long as you provide excellent service and work hard for your clients this should not concern you.

2. Export Your Google+ Data (if you need it)

If you’re upset about the years of content uploads on the Google+ platform and haven’t backed up this data (infographics, photos, videos) elsewhere all is not lost as long as you act in a timely fashion. You can export and download your Google+ user and brand page data by following these steps. Don’t worry about content uploaded to Google Photos and Google Drive, as this data will not be impacted.

3. Account for Past Google+ Post Engagements

Online marketers are somewhat stressed about this Google+ shutdown. That is because Google+ traditionally affected SEO for web content, especially blog posts, press releases, and the like. The more engagement a post (etc.) received, the more likely it would rank better than comparable content that received little to no Google+ user or Community engagement. For instance, a post that received numerous +1’s (Google’s version of upvoting) and comments/shares would rank better than competitor content that did not, all else equal. When Google+ was in its prime, SEOs would campaign heavily to garner +1’s for client content as a means to drive quick and sustainable rank. So, if your content strategy relied heavily on this tactic, you may see an impact on respective content rank.

Before you shudder in fear, the complete disinterest in Google+ from a consumer perspective now works in your favor. There’s a good chance that your posts from the last two years haven’t received +1’s, comments, and shares from “real people” as Google+ daily user numbers have dwindled into nothingness. And for those that saw success from +1 campaigns have probably held on to rank long enough to establish enough page authority in the eyes of the search engine. 

From this perspective, you probably have little to worry about. Still, it is good idea to re-publish this old content on your Google My Business page along with your business’ other social networks to reactivate engagement.

4. Have Your Developer Swap Google+ API for Google My Business API

This is something to pass on to your developer. Google is advising all developers reliant on Google+ APIs, that calls to those APIs will fail as of March 2019. Your developer will need to search for and remove any dependencies on Google+ APIs from your applications, unless you’re have an enterprise G Suite subscription (if you’re an local SMB, you probably don’t). For those developers reliant on Google+ APIs, it’s time to look to the Google My Business API.

5. Have an SEO Perform an Audit and Monitor Changes, Adjusting Where Needed

We’re going to be blunt – Google has been HORRIBLE in their communication about how this change may impact search engine rank, and has provided no information about what active brands on Google+ should do. That’s why we’ve written this article.

While we don’t expect there to be a significant impact on search engine rank, there may be, especially for local businesses and brands that have yet to migrate to Google My Business (as per item #1 above). So what else are you to do?

For starters, you need to perform an audit of your SEO today, including a comprehensive keyword ranking report for local, national, and international rank, as applicable. Then, run another detailed audit on the week following the Google+ shutdown, and continuously with each passing month for at least 6 months after Google+ doomsday (April 2, 2019). 

Assuming that you’ve made no significant changes to your SEO strategy during that time, you will be able to chart the impact, if any, and take corrective action. If there is a clear negative impact you will need to refer to your initial SEO audit and follow both on-page and off-page best practices from there on in. There are also real time Google algorithm updates to consider. These will invariably occur around the time of the G+ removal, all of which will have to be considered when assessing impact. Sound greek? That is why you need to bring in an SEO firm to perform the initial audit today, whether you find this article before the Google+ shutdown or after. It’s a volatile time and going at it alone won’t fly.

Contact Digital Marketing Collective today. We’re here to walk you through this time of uncertainty so that you can keep ahead of the competitive, those who are sitting on the sidelines and waiting to see what happens.

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