Trying to keep up with Google’s local search rules, features, and regulations is hard work. Just as you get used to one way of doing it, Google decides to shake it up a bit. A big change was introduced in late 2015, when the search engine giant decided to revamp its Google+ page and drop Google+ links from its local search results.

This left many businesses more than a little frustrated after spending a great deal of time building up a solid Google+ profile in order to improve their local listing rankings.  There was no warning so companies that once used their Google+ profiles for more Local Visibility were left baffled by the sudden change.

There are a few important things that changed when Google decided to alter its Google+ page. Most notably, the following information has been removed:

  • Maps/directions
  • Reviews
  • Hours of operation
  • Photos
  • Business categories

Any local business knows just how important the above information is when it comes to showing up on local search. Reviews in particular were once a significant factor in determining how high a company ranked in the results. Having all of these features removed has been a major blow to businesses, with some left wondering whether local search is even important anymore.

While the new Google+ page certainly focuses more on consumers than businesses, that doesn’t mean local search is no longer relevant. In fact, it’s still extremely important even in the eyes of Google. It just means you need to focus on other methods to get your local business noticed.

Of course, it’s no secret that Google+ has been struggling to stay afloat. It never really matched the popularity of its competitors and the hope Google had of making it the “end all be all” for business marketing.

However, saying that, its business section was extremely useful for local consumers.  But the company is focusing its attention on the parts of the Google+ that did work to their expectations – namely the communities, photos and collections.

Mixing the business aspect with the social aspect of the site was not effective anymore as far as Google is concerned, so they decided to separate the two.

Overall, the changes are not expected to have a detrimental effect on businesses because there are other ways to attract local consumers – and all of this can be handled inside of your Google My Business dashboard.

So if you have been using Google My Business to your full advantage the whole time, you probably won’t notice any decline in new leads.

While they no longer think Google+ is the right place to focus on local marketing, Google is still committed to local search & giving searchers the information they need about local businesses.