Recent statements from a Google Moderator claim they will shut down Google Plus accounts with no activity for a significant amount of time. Here are my thoughts on this announcement and its potential impact to business owners…
The original information from the Google team stated that the time period of inactivity was 6 month (or even a login). Many local search experts believe it to be 1 plus years without a login. We’ll see.
Positives: I think it will be nice to see business listings removed if they are clearly out of date, inaccurate or not managed. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a non-managed listing outrank you! This initiative should improve the accuracy of information on Google Plus and Google Maps. Hopefully it will also encourage business owners to proactively manage their listing and use Google Plus to their full advantage.
Negatives: I don’t see a lot of negatives to this. Businesses that haven’t at least logged in for a year don’t deserve the benefits from Google Plus, so I am all for this change. The only potential negative I see is an accidental shutdown. For example, if a business owner misses an email from Google asking them to login to their account. If this happens, it will probably take some time to get the business back live on Google.
The Process: Google has indicated that they will send out an email on accounts with no activity for a significant amount of time. If the email is not responded to within 2 weeks then Google will shut down the account. Suspended accounts can be re-instated by contacting Google.
My recommendation: I urge all business owners to gain access to your Google Plus account, create a sharp profile and cover pic, and try to build an audience by frequent posting. At a minimum, log into your account at least once a month to ensure that your business data is still accurate. You need to proactively check this and ensure that Google has not erroneously changed your data (something they tend to do frequently without your permission).
The Bottom Line: This is just another way of Google forcing business owners to use Google Plus. Business Owners should be logging in and using Google Plus for their benefit anyway but now there will be a penalty if they do not. Having your Google Plus account shutdown (and possible taken off Google Maps) could cause major issues for a local business. Google has been struggling to gain the interest of small business owners with Google My Business (Google Plus), so this may be another effort to encourage them to use it.