A Tale of Two Google+ Updates: Shutting Down G+ Pages & Disconnecting YouTube From G+
July 31st, 2015 by
In the past week, two new Google Plus updates have come to light. First, we found out that as of July 28, Google has plans to shut down inactive and unverified Google My Business (aka Google Plus) listings. On Monday, July 27, Google’s Bradley Horowitz posted on Google’s official blog that in the coming months, it will be removing the requirement for users to have Google+ profiles to use various Google products such as YouTube and Google Photos.
The Update: Google My Business is Shutting Down Unclaimed, Unverified Listings & Unverifying Inactive Accounts’ Listings
On July 23, a Local Search Forum user posted an email they received from Google as follows:
UPDATE – Announcement from Google July 22, 2015
Dear photographers and agencies,
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 28, 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 this removal of unverified Google+ pages, the Business View tours will still remain available on Google Maps and Google Search.
Here are a few recommendations for informing any business customers that may be impacted by this:
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.
The Google Maps | Business View team
This was specifically geared towards photographers so they would know how to handle the effect on Business View tours. What this means for all Google My Business users is that unclaimed local pages will most likely no longer be visible (as Google has always said is the case for unverified Google Plus Local pages).
As always, this update is accompanied by Google’s explanation that all actions are in the best interest of users and geared towards improving the user experience. Thanks, Google!
On June 4, via the Google Business Help forums, Jade Wang (come visit us in NOLA again soon 😉 ) of the GMB Maps team also announced: “If a user is unresponsive to our attempts to contact him or her and has not logged into Google My Business for a significant length of time, then we may unverify pages in the account.” Here’s the full update from Jade:
In some cases, we may contact Google My Business users via email to confirm that they are still actively managing a business page. If a user is unresponsive to our attempts to contact him or her and has not logged into Google My Business for a significant length of time, then we may unverify pages in the account. We’re doing this in order to continue to provide users with the best experience when they’re looking for local businesses like yours. If you find that a page in your account has been incorrectly unverified, please contact support to get assistance restoring verification.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the inbox associated with your Google My Business (Locations) account. It’s also a good idea to regularly log into Google My Business (Locations) to confirm that your business information is current and accurate.
My Take On It
Both of these updates could mean great news for businesses that have struggled with requesting ownership of listings that were verified in the past by a person or an account they no longer have access to. To fix this issue in the past, you’d have to submit an ownership request form to Google to gain access to these listings. Then, you’d have to wait 10 business days (as per Google’s rules) and reach out to support (they could check to see if the account never responded to the request). After this 10-day period, the support representative could determine that the account that owned the listing was inactive and release the listing to you for claiming and verification.
Basically this means inactive accounts are no longer roadblocks to getting access to business listings in Google My Business!
While some issues may be alleviated with the update, what’s harder for search engine optimization work is that now it’ll be more difficult for us to see unverified duplicate G+ pages, old or closed G+ pages, and practitioner G+ pages that could be hurting businesses’ local rankings. Map Maker should allow us to still see the data but not the pages themselves.
But there are signs this hasn’t rolled out completely yet. I have some unverified, fake listings in my Plus account (shhh, I know) that I use for training purposes that haven’t been touched yet. This is likely a slow rollout that started July 28. I did notice some changes to Maps navigation recently that were probably in preparation for this, though. For example, you used to be able to click “Write a review” from the Maps results to get to the G+ local page for a business, but now that just opens a review dialogue in the Google search results for that business in another window. This makes sense, since unclaimed businesses will no longer have pages.
The Update: Google+ Is Disconnecting From Unnecessary Services
On Monday, July 27, Bradley Horowitz posted on Google’s official blog that Google+ would be moving towards a “more focused Google+ experience,” which basically means no longer forcing users of various other Google products to have a G+ profile to use said products.
Specifically, Google wants to foster the natural sharing environment of G+ by adding new features such as Google+ Collections. This update means that all you need to share content, communicate, and have a YouTube channel (among other things) is a Google account and not necessarily a G+ profile. Also, it will continue to keep Google accounts private and unsearchable. For those who were forced to create G+ profiles to use YouTube and other Google products in the past, Google promises that it will “offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.”
My Take On It
Congrats to everyone who was pissed when they couldn’t use YouTube without a Google+ profile!
At first, it seemed that G+ pages that are already connected to YouTube channels might be disconnected. But, that last comment about offering ways to get rid of unwanted G+ profiles, points to the fact that this update will not actively affect anyone in this way.
Since this update has not yet rolled out, however, it is important for users to realize that they should not delete their G+ yet! Doing so prior to roll out will force you to delete your entire YouTube presence!
Let me know your thoughts on all of these new Google updates! I’d love to hear what other users think of these changes.