Google+ links and reviews are no longer being included in search results, even in searches for specific business names.
This has been reported on via various sources around the web — including on Google+ and Local Search Forum. I have also confirmed via my own testing that Google+ is no longer being included searches which would have previously returned links to Google+ business pages.
Not only are the links gone, but the star reviews from Google+ have been stripped from the SERPS as well. However, Google will still return links to Google+ pages if the intent to find that page was indicated in the query.
For example, a search for “Frank’s Pizza” will not bring up a Google+ link, but a search for “Frank’s Pizza Google+ page” will.
There has been no official statement from Google on removing it’s own social network from search results, but the search giant’s actions would lead one to believe Google+ is becoming even less of a focus for the company.
Is Google Responding to Accusations?
Another possible explanation is that Google is responding to the accusations of favoring its own properties in search results by, well, removing its properties from the search results.
Companies like Yelp have long been accusing Google of unfairly ranking Google+ pages ahead of their sites in local search results. The companies allege they’re losing traffic as a result of Google’s practices.
Yelp, TripAdvisor, and individual businesses, should all be happy with today’s discovery. Now, when searching for a business, I find that 9 times out of 10 a business’s own website will show up first. The company website is then followed by Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, and so on. No sign of Google+ anywhere.
Even when you search for a category of businesses it’s unlikely you’ll end up on any Google property other than Maps. For example, a broad search like “sushi places in Toronto” will return the local 3-pack. Clicking on a listing in the 3-pack will open an expanded view in Google Maps with links to either call the business or visit their official website.
Below the 3-pack you’ll find links from Yelp, TripAdvisor, and maybe some articles on local websites who cover stories about the best cold-pressed juice places in town. Where Google+ used to dominate local searches there’s now barely a trace of it.
Google local searches are no longer funnelling traffic towards Google properties (aside from Maps). Traffic is now either going to the business’s official site, local review sites like Yelp, or local blogs and websites.
This should help quell the accusations and complaints directed towards Google — provided this is a permanent change and not just one of the search giant’s many tests.