OK, so yesterday I spent a lot of time talking about whether you should build your own website. And, wouldn’t you know, at the exact same time, the ever-insightful David Mihm is making a compelling argument for putting your emphasis into a Google Place page instead. Is he right? Are you better off focusing on your Google Place page?
Um… no. Absolutely not, in fact.
Not that you shouldn’t have a Google Place page. If you’ve got a physical location, a Place page is a necessity. But, let’s look at David’s other key takeaways in more detail.
For starters, David suggests:
“The new OneBox interface could be an enormous boon for business owners with small budgets, or little control over their own websites. There’s no reason a Place Page can’t function as the primary web presence for a start-up business.”
As I mentioned above, I agree that a Place page makes a lot of sense. And I do think your small business is likely to benefit from having one – especially if Google begins to preference those in search results. But, do you really want to cede your business’s online presence completely to another company? Really?!?
Yes, Google is the dominant player today and likely will be for some time to come. Right now, no one’s even close. But that used to be true of AOL. And of Netscape. And Lycos and GeoCities and Excite and AltaVista and others along the way. Just because Google is in the lead today doesn’t guarantee they will stay there forever. Sure, you can move if and when the time comes. But, aren’t you better off ensuring that’s never necessary?
Now, to be fair to David, he does say that you should “…reserve a domain name immediately” (as do I). But, I’m more than a little leery of recommending you put all your eggs into Google’s basket.
“A complete, and attractive, Place Page is now paramount for local businesses. If you have not yet added every conceivable piece of information about your business (photos, hours of operation, videos, menus, services offered, etc.) now is the time to do so. Your Place Page is now the first thing most of your Local customers are going to see–better make it compelling.
I answer with a big, fat, emphatic “I AGREE!”
In fact, the information displayed on your Google Place page offers great insights into the information you should display on your own site. Remember, Google wouldn’t show this information if people weren’t searching for it.
David also suggests working to acquire reviews, saying:
“…now your visitors are going to see what every customer is saying about you before they even get there. Now is the time to implement a review acquisition program, if you haven’t already.”
Ask anyone involved in the hotel business about the influence TripAdvisor has. Reviews play a pivotal role in your customers’ purchasing decision. Their inclusion on Place pages will only accelerate that trend.
David’s final argument is that the Place page provides small businesses a simpler place to manage their online presence without, “…overwhelming SMB’s with too much information.” And that is an unquestionably fair assessment. But, having your own website isn’t that hard – especially if you’re the type of business most likely to benefit from a Place page. Having your own website may not be the simplest solution, but, simple shouldn’t be your only criteria for business decisions.
I don’t typically break down one person’s opinion like this. David Mihm is very sharp and knows what he’s talking about. And, for the most part, I agree with his thinking. I also think that it’s important for you to control your primary web presence just the same as you would control your primary phone number. You want your customer to come to you. Today Google has a strong offering. Tomorrow it might be Facebook – if it isn’t already. A year from now, who knows?
Use Google’s Place page as part of your online activities. Just make sure you have a presence without them, too.
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