Google announced a series changes that it hopes will make Google+ a more appealing platform.

On its official blog, Google announced a series of changes to its Google+ profile layout aimed at making the platform more visual and streamlining the interface for users. Google said in its announcement that changes will continue as it perfects the design, but it appears as though all Google+ users have received the new profile design, and marketers should monitor their brands’ Google+ activity to see if the new layout influences engagement on the platform.

Google has added a navigation ribbon the left side of the page to allow users to move through Google+ more easily. Links to profile pages, their photos and other Google+ destinations appear in the toolbar, which can be customized as the user likes. All of the changes enhance the look of the network, and Brafton has reported that Facebook’s visual Timeline increased brand engagement on the social giant.

In terms of the user profile and activity streams, Google has adjusted the layout to focus more on visual content and interaction. Conversation cards, essentially discussion including comments and links shared on posts, are larger and more attractive than they were previously. The increased size will help users comment on their own or their contacts’ posts more easily. Additionally, users can easily click on an activity link which will show them which contacts and other users that have clicked on their content.

An updated Explore page connects users to the rest of Google+. Also, the page now are includes trending topics that will show users the most popular topics being discussed on the platform. This could be a good way for businesses to get more visibility on the platform through shared content that hits trending topics.

Ultimately, the changes do not appear to include anything that will drastically impact Google+ as a search signal. However, the streamlined interface may result in more frequent and consistent users.

Brafton recently reported that 40 percent of companies plan to increase their focus on Google+ as part of their 2012 social media marketing strategies. Even as the network lags in active users, Google+ activity can help businesses gain visibility among search audiences as +1s and other actions can improve search standing. In fact, Google experts referred to Google+ as a social thread more than a network at the recent ad:tech San Francisco conference.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.