As many of you will most likely be aware, on April 2, the consumer version of Google+ was shut down. In this post, we look at what happened and practical steps that law firms should take in the aftermath (if indeed not already taken).
In October 2018, Google reported Google+ had suffered a significant data leak affecting up to 500,000 users. The user's profile information - even when set as private - was at risk of being accessed by developers and apps.
In response, Google decided that the best course of action would be to ‘sunset’ the consumer version of the social platform. This was originally planned for August 2019, but with the discovery of a new bug in November 2018, Google brought forward the date to April 2019. Google said:
" ... our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 is due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations."
One of the resulting questions being asked now is: Will law firms be affected online by Google+ shutting down? The honest answer, no.
“The overall impact to SEO will be minimal. This won’t impact rankings and Google has slowly reduced the platform’s integration with search over the last few years. For example, at its height, Google+ profiles were integrated to show in association with websites in search results. At the time we ensured our customers took advantage to increase their click-through rates from search. Now that feature, for instance, is no more.”
Practical Steps for Law Firms to Take
Now that Google+ is no more, there are some simple actions that should be taken:
1. Remove the Google+ icon from your firm’s website.
If you have a Google+ icon on your site that links out to your former Google+ profile, clicking through will take visitors to a screen that says that Google+ has been closed down. Therefore such an icon should be removed as soon as possible. For our customers, we will have already done this for you.
2. Review the role of Google+ in your firm’s marketing efforts.
Very few law firms were using Google+ to any significant extent, even when it was much more popular. In its absence, firms should (still) be very focused on what generates profitable enquiries.
3. Improve your Google My Business profile.
Google My Business (Google’s local search service that allows businesses to have local listings with Google) has taken some of the most effective elements of Google+. So it is crucial that you take the time to review your firm’s listing. You can optimise your firm's presence within Google My Business by, first, ensuring that you have admin access and then ensuring your business name, phone number and address are all correct, that your category is relevant to the specific type of legal services you provide, that relevant images are in place, that you encourage your clients to give you Google Reviews and more.