Small business owners: Just when you thought it was safe to send prospects and customers to your Google place page, think again. Google has added a new content section to place pages — recommendations of other nearby businesses. And as I point out on Search Engine Land, those recommendations often include your competition.
In that piece, I suggest this idea: If the small business has claimed its local business listing, then Google should turn off the nearby recommendations. Reward local businesses that claim their listing, don’t punish them.
The bigger question here is, who owns the place pages? The obvious and correct answer is Google; Google can do what it wants with place pages. But in Google’s never-ending quest to promote local business listings to small business owners — Google just sent a rep from Mountain View to Spokane for Thursday’s GetListed Local University seminar to show about 125 business how the LBC works — there’s never been any indication from Google that it might start showing information about other businesses on a place page.
It’s a strange thing for Google to do, that’s for sure. When I said I wanted more from Google’s place pages, this wasn’t what I had in mind….