Ep 134: Google Maps bloat?, citations and their declining value, Google’s new SMB attribute: helpful or performative?

Ep 134: Google Maps bloat?, citations and their declining value, Google’s new SMB attribute: helpful or performative?

Part 1 starts 00:13 - Google Maps from useful to bloat?

Google Maps continues to add new features and functionality and as it has become a primary search engine for Google and its forward facing brand it has included so much functionality that it suffers from extreme bloat. The new immersive directions exemplifies the problem. but Maps is a deep moat and it is very difficult for others to challenge. 

Segment Reference Article: Google Maps Updates - Bloat or Value?

Part 2 starts 10:20 - Citations and their value to Local Search

In the past, citations from directories were crucial for local businesses, especially those without a significant inbound link footprint or a website. These third-party profiles often served as the only source of validation for Google to categorize and recognize the existence of these businesses. At that time, Google had fewer signals to rely on for local businesses, such as a less developed native review feature and a smaller corpus of reviews. This context made citations in directories like Yellow Pages, City Search, and Yelp significantly valuable, as they were well-ranked in Google's organic algorithm and helped propel the mentioned businesses in search rankings.

However, the landscape has shifted considerably. Nowadays, most businesses have claimed their Google Business Profiles and provide information directly to Google. A larger percentage of these businesses have their own websites with inbound links. This development diminishes Google's reliance on third-party directories for data validation, which was a significant role these directories played a decade ago. Furthermore, the authority and trust in many of these non-Yelp directories have declined, making citations in them less impactful for local SEO. The current strategy emphasizes identifying and targeting sites that rank for desired keywords, as these are more likely to draw clicks and direct customers. This shift highlights the need for local businesses and agencies to adapt their SEO strategies, focusing more on building a robust online presence and less on broad directory listings.

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Part 3 starts 17:13 - Google’s New  Small Business Attribute: Helpful or Performative ?

This attribute aims to make it easier for consumers to discover small businesses online when shopping for products. Google defines a small business as an entity not part of a franchise, with fewer than $10 million in revenue and less than ten locations. However, there's a debate over this definition, as it excludes franchisees, who constitute a significant portion of small businesses in the U.S. Google plans to infer small business status from various signals and also allows businesses to affirmatively apply for the attribute.

From a marketing perspective, this development is significant yet somewhat limited in its potential impact. The attribute is expected to help small businesses be discovered more easily, serving as a modifier or a long-tail tool in certain search contexts. However, there are concerns about the actual effectiveness of this feature in driving substantial exposure for small businesses. Critics argue that if Google were genuinely committed to enhancing small business discovery, this attribute would be more prominently integrated, such as in Google Shopping or as a filter in search ads. As it stands, the attribute may have a limited impact, appearing sporadically and possibly unnoticed by users. This suggests that, while beneficial, the attribute's impact on small business visibility and marketing might be more symbolic than substantial.

Segment Reference Article: Will Google's SMB Attribute Actually Help?