Google has announced that it will begin shutting down unverified Google+ Local pages on July 28, 2015. After the update, any pages not associated with an actual account will no longer be viewable. Based on a previous announcement, long-inactive accounts that do not respond to contact attempts from the Google My Business team will be unverified and shut down as well.
This move supports the idea that the search giant is planning to separate Google+ and local search, a combination that has so far proven underwhelming. However, this has nothing to do with the rumors that Google+ as a whole is on its way out – those rumors are still groundless and unrealistic.
What Does this Really Mean for the Industry?
As a clean-up measure, the purge of unhelpful Google+ pages is long overdue. It will greatly simplify and improve the search user experience, as users will no longer find long-abandoned local listings that offer no fresh content or interactivity. This change will likely help active and optimized pages get more traffic as well, as they are now only competing with those who make a real effort to rank.
In addition, this will be a strong incentive for businesses to finally sign in and claim their listings before the update hits. This may lead to them spending more time on Google My Business, and start taking a more active interest in local SEO – a win for both the business owner and Google.
However, some have raised concerns that this may actually make local SEO harder. Forums are active and abuzz with the news, and one user even theorized that being unable to view the pages will make it more difficult to detect and fix erroneous NAP data, while the problem continues to affect rankings.
The bottom line is that if you still have any unverified pages, it is time to do something about them. We encourage all businesses to create a page and claim their orphaned listings immediately. Please contact us if you need any help with this step.