This story has been updated from when it was originally published Dec. 19, 2011. NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Google ( GOOG) is setting in motion big changes to its search functionality, after announcing Tuesday that one of the primary influencers to its search will be Google+. For businesses -- even local business -- this means all the more reason to get on Google+ now.
Google+ hasn't exactly caught on with users. You should be on it anyway, digital media expert Jason Hennessey warns.
At first glance, setting up a business profile on Google's social media site, which is sort of a combination of Facebook and Twitter, seems unnecessary, since the site hasn't gotten much traction with users so far. But experts say now is the time for businesses to get comfortable with using Google+, because it will become a increasingly n important piece of the search puzzle. Last month we spoke with Jason Hennessey, CEO of Everspark Interactive, a digital marketing agency, who predicted that Google+ would become a primary influence to Google searches. He said that the more a local business engaged with Google+ (both by posting and allowing users to "check in"), the more likely Google is to pull up that business during a user's searches. What's so great about Google+?Hennessey: Six months ago Google had an exclusive contract with Twitter, which was providing them with a real-time feed. That was a big deal. So say you search for Kim Kardashian. You're not seeing all the real-time buzz that's happening about Kim Kardashian like you used to see when Twitter had the contract with Google. Google+ has its own real-time news feed to replace the real-time search feature. They haven't actually brought it in the search pages yet ... this is something that is right around the corner. They will implement a real-time news feed almost like a Twitter feed that will be part of the search. So why should businesses care?Hennessey: As a journalist, at the end of the day the whole reason why you're posting on a social media site is so that you can be the first to break different stories. When you're talking about small business or local restaurant, it provides you a larger audience without a whole lot of effort. So essentially you can follow something that is buzzing and you as a small business have the ability to compete with the mega-companies and large brands out there and get followers and fans. You're basically maximizing the same audience.