We all know how Google’s number one goal is to make life easier on all the business owners out there… (sorry, I had to stop typing for a minute because I was laughing hysterically)
This morning, Google released a pretty sizeable update to the Google Plus platform – with nothing but a quiet Google Plus update to announce the change. According to Google, they’re listening to “our” feedback and providing the updates we’ve been asking for. Those updates include:
- A new local reviews tab (this is pretty awesome, actually)
- An easier interface for editing your info (ok, thanks)
- Bigger cover photos with a better aspect ratio (where’s my Google voodoo doll??)
The new photos can be up to 2120 pixels by 1192 pixels, which is a 16×9 image ratio. Which means they’re approximately 5.36 gazillion times bigger than they used to be. Sure, I can see how people would complain that the narrow height of the old cover images sometimes made it difficult to choose a good image… but this change has taken the solution WAY too far.
The images are mind-numbingly massive. As in, 80% of the screen massive… Even worse, once you change, you can’t go back.
It’s a branding nightmare as well, especially for merged Google + Business pages. Where you used to have complete control over the branding in your cover image, there are now 3 different versions of your cover image that will be visible to the public, depending on where they are on your Google + Business merged page.
Let’s look at the changes that were made:
The business name and address have been moved down and now appear as a text overlay on the cover image. The Follow button has also been moved down and appears over the cover image. The +1 button has been moved from below the map on the right column up to the cover image.
For some crazy reason, they’ve removed the blue colored “write a review” button and changed it to a light grey – it doesn’t stand out like it used to.
The photo strip is back. These 5 photos used to be displayed across the top of Google+ profiles, and were replaced by cover images back in 2011. Now they’re back… and they’re a huge bug. Currently, there’s no way to edit those photos – so you’re stuck with whatever photos are there.
The size of the image can change on the fly
Check out what happens when you expand the size of your browser window:
The size of the new circle-masked avatar and text stay the same, but the image will resize based on the width of your browser window.
The size of the image changes based on location
This one really hurts. Before, you knew exactly what customers would see when they landed on your page. Now, they’ll see one of three possible versions of your cover image, based on where they land or what they do.
As you can see, you have a lot less control over your branding now that the image changes. If you click to a merged page off of the “reviews” link in the SERPs, you’ll end up on the “about” tab, which shows just the bottom sliver of the image. To see the entire image, you have to scroll up. If you link to your Google Plus page from anywhere (like an icon on your site), the landing page is the “posts” tab, so the expanded image shows. The only way to see your entire image is to scroll up on any of the tabs.
Obviously, creating a cover image is a huge headache now… You’ve got to design a ridiculously huge image that has all of your main branding elements in the bottom two-thirds of the image, but the bottom edge of the image can’t be too busy because your business name and location info will be too hard to read.
Frustrated? It’s your lucky day…
I’ve created a Photoshop template for the new Google Plus cover image size. It includes several guides and a layer of text to explain why each set of guides are important. Hopefully it makes the transition a little bit easier for you…