More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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When I saw this subject line come up in my feedreader, those of you that know me, know some of the thoughts that popped into my head. :p

For the sensational title, it's actually a pretty tame and balanced article and only hits on a couple of the very general issues that make Google Local hard for small businesses. It mainly addresses issues like organic algo changes and lightly touches on the review piece.

"Google Reviews Remain a Bit of a Mystery" is a bit of an understatement if you live at the Google Business forum and read the myriad of extremely irate posts about all the review problems. OR if you are an SMB that had all your reviews deleted!

Still it's a good article that I thought would prompt more discussion here.
Does Google Hate Small Businesses?

So I don't think Google really "hates" anyone, but I think over the years they've unintentionally made things a little bit more difficult for small business owners. Not because small business owners aren't good marketers, or don't have good marketers on staff -- but because they have fewer resources and less time than companies with large marketing departments. So while Google has continued to improve upon its user experience, in my opinion, those improvements have also put a lot of small business owners at a disadvantage if they're trying to use Google for marketing.

Read more: Does Google Hate Small Businesses?

I actually held my tongue pretty well and just replied: "But it all becomes infinitely more complicated and convoluted for SMBs to figure out when in addition to everything you mentioned above - you throw in all the Google+ Local bugs, confusion about all the G+ merge and verification issues and all the strict and ever-changing guidelines on the Google Places side of things.

Seriously hard to imagine this is a self serve DIY platform. Just can't even imagine being an SMB and trying to find time in my busy day to figure it all out."

But of course, one of the things I wanted to mention but just didn't feel like going on a rant about there is the thousands of service area businesses that got whacked, some of which have been down for months.

So anyway... back to the question "Does Google Hate Small Businesses?"

My answer surprisingly is, no I don't think they do. What I think Google hates is spammers and scammers and fake Place page builders.

And unfortunately many SMB listings fall into the categories above. Partly due to what the article talks about. This stuff is complicated, SMBs don't take time to read the guidelines and don't know how it works and unknowly do spammy stuff sometimes. OR are overly aggressive and try everything in the book to rank including setting up fake locations or KW stuffing their name, etc.

BUT the bigger problem is desperate and na?ve SMBs are easy targets for the myriad of spammy scammy agencies out there that have THOUSANDS of SMB clients, and blatantly break the rules left and right. This is also I believe where a lot of the review spam algo problems stem from - all the dishonest rep management services out there, pushing all kinds of fake review tricks.

Then the ultimate issue that contributes to the feeling Google hates SMBs is the fact that Google is so algo based and paints with a broad brush. So far too often in trying to get rid of all the spammers and scammers, honest businesses sometimes get caught in the cross hairs.

So what do you guys think?
Does Google Hate Small Businesses?
Well, here's the SMB manager whose part time job is handling online marketing for my company. You are right, Linda, I don't have time for this! As a sales and customer service guy my expertise is in handling customers in person/on the phone. It's fallen on me to manage our online presence because we don't have anyone with better online skills than me. It does not mean I know what I am doing! Having said that I've learned a lot from everyone in the forum here and at Google. Thanks.

So I don't think Google hates anyone. I think Google loves small business because there is clearly a demand in the user/shopper world to find information on local/SMBs - SMBs drive traffic for Google. Looking at SMBs thru that lens we are a great asset Google has to market. Said more facetiously, we are more chum for Google to throw in the water to bring in more fish.

And that's the problem, as I see it. Godgle has lost its Gmail Beta mentality. The fun humility of the old days has been replaced with a level of hubris that is, to my eyes, out-doing even Microsoft of the '90s. It's not hate, it's hubris. We were once part of that public user-base, now we are chum for attracting traffic, and we are treated that way. They use us for their purposes in the way that serves their goals. They are are treating us as any fisherman treats the chum.

Will Google elevate us to the level of importance they hold other assets with some day? That will depend on when the market tells them the chum they are dishing out is useless. The market wants value and if Godgle keeps beating the assets into chum G+Local will turn out to be the ghost town so many already accuse it of being. The real question will be whether Godgle will hear the feedback as an abuse of the asset instead of some other problem they beat to sh?t.
I completely agree with Joe's comments. In short, Google has just gotten so big that while I'm sure they care/like small businesses, they're too big to do anything about the issues in a timely and organized fashion. Plus, I do think Google likes to keep things more complicating than they need to be. Clearly much of what they do is driven by engineers, developers, and techies...not business or customer service people.

I just think the whole Google local ecosystem is a total joke. It's ridiculous that any business has to hire someone like me to help them with this stuff. They shouldn't have to!

Travis Van Slooten

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