Google+ updated their user interface this week to make link posts stand out in the stream with bold titles and extra large images. The change is very similar to how Facebook handles link-based posts.
Link posts now feature a large thumbnail image that spans the entire post, a small snippet of text, as well as a link to the source’s Google+ page (if they have one). This is a drastic change from the old design which was just a small, square thumbnail and a headline.
The change was noticed by Google Plus Daily, who also reported in the span of a weekend the change had been reversed and reimplemented. For now, at least, the change appears to be here to stay.
Some anticipated benefits of this change are higher click-through rates, more follows, and a decreased need to upload your own image into a post in order to make it stand out. Of course, it also makes Google+ look a whole lot prettier since those small thumbnails they were using before weren’t much to look at.
Here’s an example of what the new link posts look like:
While trying to get these new thumbnails to trigger I found it didn’t work perfectly every time. I had to try a few different links before getting Google+ to display one of these thumbnails.
From my experience I discovered these new thumbnails work best when the post has a ‘Featured Image’, which can be defined if you use WordPress or a similar CMS as your publishing platform.
Hopefully Google changes this in the future to be a little more user friendly. Ideally the new thumbnails should trigger with all links, just like Facebook.
While not the biggest change, still very much worth noting since it could potentially have a profound effect on the referral traffic your website gets from Google+.