I wouldn’t blame you if you felt jerked around by Google.
When Google launched Google+, they moved the reviews that drive so much consumer decision making and search ranking from Google Places to Google+Local. We learned from Google that, in addition to our reviews, Google wanted businesses to engage socially (posts, hangouts, etc) with visitors to the Google+Local pages. The unspoken incentive (kind of like “an offer you can’t refuse”) was that if you build your social interactions/pictures/videos that your search ranking would be impacted.
Well, they did it again. They made another change that could have big implications for how your organization invests its efforts online. What changed? For most businesses, your Google+ business page is almost non-existent (meaning its really hard to find in the search engines).
Here is an example:
Now, when a potential customer clicks on your reviews, instead of going to your carefully groomed Google+ page, they see a pop-up window of reviews that looks like this:
Is posting links, comments, pictures, videos, etc. to your Google+ business page worth your time? It depends. If you have a lot of followers already or are actively building followers, then clearly yes. If not, I suggest taking a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude by investing less time on maintaining your Google+ page.
Reviews continue to be the exception. Google has decided that is what people want to see and they are putting reviews front and center.
The take away: reinvest some of the time you save in not being as active on your Google+ page into building more reviews content.