Google+ is dead. Long live Google.

For small business types who have been listening, I’ve been extolling the virtues of Google+ since its introduction a little over three years ago. “Get an account, fill out your profile, start posting and adding +1’s. Share when you can, as much as you can. Just get on Google+”. I shared these directives honestly, often, and with passion.

The rationale for giving that advice had everything to do with expanding your online footprint with the search engine giant who gives preferential ranking to companies with a Google+ account. It was a no brainer.

Now, it appears Google+ is about to exit the social media scene, at least as a social media platform. While not an official announcement, evidence is piling up to indicate the tech giant is moving away from support of their version of Facebook onto to new and better things.

Yes, folks. It’s another change to adapt to in the world of online marketing. Sigh.

An initial response from the tech savvy crowd is nothing short of joyous, pointing at Google’s recent forced integration via the Google+ page as the villain in the story. One post declared, “…. forced integration of random services with social networks is evil.”

‘Forced integration’ refers to Google’s prompting (read: requirement) of users of Maps, Earth, Drive, Places, and every other Google product, to complete a Google+ account in order to participate with their tool of choice. It was a bit heavy handed and clearly not popular

In actuality, Google’s rationale for changing the rules of Google+ was to help integrate the Google products menu, making it easier for their customers to access the world of Google tools. The integration was also intended to boost acquisition of customer behavior data used to fuel marketing decisions. That rationale created an even deeper level of distrust between Google and its customers.

Since 2011, I have routinely suggested business owners set up a Google+ account to get on major search engines radar and by default the rest of the online world, and to gain to posting experience outside of Facebook and Twitter. That advice, with minor alteration, stands.

As Google+ fades, business owners need only to stand by as Google adapts Plus accounts to a new platform, which will continue to offer significant opportunity to present your company to the buying public.

Given their mindset and influence, I expect to see a new Google web based tool designed to make our lives better, faster, stronger soon.

For those who run small businesses, my advice is to keep your profiles up to date. Watch from afar and don’t take Google off your radar.