Exciting news about the Google Plus for Small Business Community

+Linda Buquet has all the details on the news in the post below, so indulge me while I share some personal thoughts about this new chapter :)

I started on Google+ 3 years ago as a web professional who needed to understand how this particular platform could be used by his clients. In the process of doing that, it became obvious how Google+ could help me build my own personal brand, open new opportunities for networking and income.

That goal has been achieved many times over, and I feel (as I'm sure many of you do) like I'm better equipped to be a marketer in today's challenging business landscape than those who didn't take the time to enjoy what this place has to offer: the fluidity, the discussion, networking, learning, collaboration, and genuine relationship building that lifts us all up.

You can't get that anywhere else, and I am already seeing it pay dividends when I speak to companies and communities outside G+ about this more holistic way of marketing. 

As I shift focus back to web and email marketing at www.shovi.com, I'm excited about the future for the one lasting Google+ asset that grew to heights I'd never thought possible. I mean, seriously, over 100K members? The decision of how to manage this transition was not something I could make light of, given how strong the community has become.

Linda and her team, along with the community's veteran mods +Ben Fisher and +John Dietrich, will continue to make this community the destination for local/social business insights. You'll want to turn on notifications, believe me.

Before I wrap this, I need to give a special, heartfelt thank-you to +Marilyn Moore, who is enjoying her own new chapter and has stepped down from the mod team for our community. But Marilyn was truly the glue that held this together when it hit the tipping point for growth and spam. Marilyn has always been a champion for this community, and truly embodies what Google+ is all about. I can't thank her enough, we all have big shoes to fill moving forward.

Be sure to stop in to congratulate Linda, Ben, John, and the whole community team. Onward and upward for everyone!
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT:  Google+ and Local Search are Changing - as a Result, So Is This Community!  If  you are a regular in these parts, you’ve seen a big flurry of changes over the past few days, so I wanted to try to summarize our new direction.

Your fearless leader +Stephan Hovnanian has done amazing things for this community over the past couple years and he'll still be around, but I just wanted to share some of the changes with you, as our community evolves.


NEW DIRECTION: Google+ and Google Local are changing almost daily.  G+ is still very important on many levels, but as local gets more diverse and complex, more and more businesses need help with Local. So we are taking the community in more of a Local Search direction which includes all the topics that tie into Local, like reviews, citations, content and organic SEO. But we will still, as always answer questions about Google+ and will continue to share great G+ tips – because G+ is still very much a part of local!

The other “new direction” is that we will have a much stronger focus on more advanced online marketing content that will help YOU be successful.  We want a higher signal to noise ratio and I know those of you who are here for the right reasons do too.  So along with more advanced content, we are focused on reducing the noise, off topic posts, intros and self promotion.  I’ll cover that in more detail in the next section.

NEW GUIDELINES:  Please be sure to read all our new guidelines. Many things that slipped by before will no longer be allowed. And we are being pretty strict about deleting posts that do not comply. We feel this initial strict enforcement is important to the health of the new more focused business community.

NEW COMMUNITY GUIDELINES:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101037504613481726969/posts/8q2AMXRF8eJ

INTRODUCTIONS - New guidelines here:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101037504613481726969/posts/LC3GVhPaA89  

NEW RULES ABOUT SELF PROMOTION & LINKING TO YOUR OWN SITE OR CONTENT - Please read, to see where we draw the line on self promotion including links to your own site or blog post:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/101037504613481726969/posts/Lf3QzkDfxad

NEW MODERATION TEAM:  I brought some really great mods with me to help grow this community and share their knowledge and tips that will help you all be successful.

You’ve already seen their posts and the effort they are putting in. But please meet +Priya Chandra and +Margaret Ornsby, who are both from Australia. Priya recently became a Google Top Contributor and Margaret I think is on her way to becoming one. They have both taken my Advanced Google Local Training and are very knowledgeable.  Also joining us soon will be +Justin Bergmann,  but he’s busy launching a new company so has not been active yet.

I also added +Mark Taylor as a moderator. He’s been an active community member here and seemed more than willing to help us.  And +William Rock offered to help us as well. He also just became a Google Top Contributor, so now there are 3 of us here, counting yours truly.

Speaking of mods, I wanted to give a big shout out to +Ben Fisher  and +John Dietrich, who the regulars know. They’ve been actively helping members of this community for 1 - 2 years and they have been instrumental in helping me get this place reorganized and are both committed to staying on board as we take this community to the next level.

I hope the other previous mods who I have not even had time to reach out to yet, will stay actively involved as well. But either way, thank you for all you’ve done to help this community so far.

NEW OWNERSHIP:  Stephan has done an amazing job of growing this community to over 105,000 members. No easy feat!  He approached me about taking over the reins, because he sees the need for this community to go in more of a Local Search direction.  Plus I’ve been managing communities for 10 years now (mainly forums) and run 2 other Local communities right now, so it just made sense!

Most of you, if you are involved in Local, know me.  I am a Local Search expert specializing in local ranking troubleshooting, consulting and Advanced Google Local Training for experience SEOs and agencies.

I am founder/owner of the Local Search Forum. I'm proud to be a Google Top Contributor so help Google out at the Google Business Forum too.  And I'm also a contributor to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors – which is considered to be “THE bible for Local Search”. 

I won’t bore you any more than that, but if you want to see a brief bio, there is one under the “Why Catalyst, Why Linda” section on my services page:  http://www.catalystemarketing.com/google-local-business-listings.html

I’m excited to join the amazing team here - and yes, that still includes Stephan.   He’ll be around for awhile to help with the transition and I’m sure will always be active to some degree, since this is his baby!

FYI if it’s not TMI, I am crippled up in both arms with multiple RSI injuries and am not even supposed to be working.  I am trying to cut my hours back from 70 – 40, not an easy task for a workaholic.  Plus I run 2 other communities, so am always spread too thin. 

So while my heart is always here, I just can’t physically post as much as I’d like to. But that’s why I have a great team behind me!

And speaking of team… I hope Stephan and some of the mods will stop by this thread to say hi so you can meet them, if you have not already.
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