Which is More: Claimed Google Place Pages or Businesses with Facebook Pages?

Filed in Google, Local Search, Social Media by Matt McGee on December 27, 2011 7 Comments

google-facebook-logosThis is one of the long-running questions in my local search peer network, and perhaps one of the more important questions going forward when it comes to small businesses and online marketing. The general consensus is that there are more small businesses with Facebook Pages than with claimed Google Place Pages. That comes from anecdotal evidence and various survey estimates, but not from hard, reliable statistics.

Google: 8 Million Claimed Place Pages

Earlier this month at the ILM West conference, Google self-reported a big number: eight million claimed Place Pages. See David Mihm’s coverage and the Kelsey Group’s coverage for confirmation, as well as other Google local/mobile numbers.

Mike Blumenthal has posted about the growth of claimed Place Pages, based on what’s now three times that Google has self-reported statistics over the past 20 months. In a nutshell, the number has doubled in that time frame from four million in April 2010 to the current eight million.

Facebook: ??? Businesses with Pages

Unfortunately, the number of businesses with Facebook Pages is a mystery. Facebook isn’t saying — I’ve emailed the communications team twice in the past couple weeks and received no reply — and, to my knowledge, never has given a number.

There’ve been numerous surveys and similar attempts to guesstimate the number of small businesses with Facebook pages. Greg Sterling wrote earlier this year about one survey that said 54% of SMBs have a Facebook page. Some surveys peg the number higher, while others have it lower.

Before some of our GetListed Local University workshops, we poll attendees and ask if they have a claimed Google Place Page, if they have a Facebook page, etc. As Mike Blumenthal reported from our recent Western New York event, the numbers skewed pretty heavily toward Facebook. (Admittedly, that was a very small sample of SMBs, but my memory is that the responses always seem to reflect similar percentages.)

One of the problems with any survey, though, is the possibility (likelihood?) of mistaken self-reporting. How many SMBs who take these surveys actually have a personal Facebook profile that they use for business purposes, but don’t really have a Facebook Page?

As of 2007, the US Census Bureau estimated that there were about 27.7 million small businesses in the US. If we use the 54% statistic that I mentioned two paragraphs above, that would give a rough estimate of about 15 million SMBs with Facebook Pages.

That’s a little less than double the number of claimed Google Place Pages. I don’t really want to put a lot of stock in that but, for now, it may be the best we can do.

Your thoughts? In your experience, do more small business owners that you know have claimed Google Place Pages or a Facebook Page? (Given that a fair amount of local search folks read this blog, I’m guessing the replies will tilt towards Google more than they do in the general populace.)

Comments (7)

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  1. Alex Weiss says:

    Lies, damn lies and statistics.

    Mike Blumenthal’s blog stated – “It was a year ago April that Google made the first public announcement regarding the number of claimed Places listing. The number came in at 4 million worldwide. Yesterday at the BIA/Kelsey ILM West conference, Jeff Aguero noted that Google Places now has 8 million claimed Place Pages (out of 50MM worldwide)”

    It is not really clear, but does not seem like Mike is not discussing the number of claimed GP pages in the USA at all but rather I think the bottom line is that he thinks there are 50 million GP pages worldwide of which there a 8 million ‘worldwide’ that are claimed claimed.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

    • Matt McGee says:

      Alex, I think there are a couple typos in your comment, so I might be misunderstanding what you’re saying. But if you read through Google’s announcement last April (2010) as well as the coverage of ILM this month, Google is saying there are more than 50 million Place Pages in the world, of which 8 million are now claimed. It seems pretty clear to me what they’ve said.

      Debra – yes, I think that’s a large part of it. Many already use Facebook personally and so creating a Page is not as foreign as local search business listings.

  2. Debra Murphy says:

    Interesting question Matt. Working with small business owners, when I mention to them that they should claim their Google Places page, many don’t really know what it is so left on their own, most will likely go with the popular Facebook Page first. If they seek help in their online marketing, however, they will see the value of claiming their business listings and getting reviews first and then work on their Facebook Page.

  3. Chris says:

    +1 Debra

    It all depends on the SMB’s awareness of the local digital landscape…but Facebook would get my guess.

    But that doesn’t assume either is administered correctly, or even advantageously…Which is probably a future question requiring more detailed examination.

    In San Diego – from only hearing a infinitesimal cross section of SMB feedback, Google has made at least 2 canvassing efforts in the past year (2011) to stoke some Places buzz amongst local SMBs.

    Good point Matt – most business owners (I interact with – again tiny fraction), Facebook remains underutilized, often to the point of still setting up personal profiles rather than biz pages.

    Nevermind dupe Places listings, citation sourcing, inaccurate business NAP info, or reviews being split between multiple (claimed) profiles…

  4. Jo Shaer says:

    My bugbear at the moment is the number of local businesses with personal profiles rather than Facebook Business Pages. Until FB sort that out, they probably don’t actually know how many businesses are represented.

    My experience, like Debra, is that many have no idea about Google Places pages and rely on paid local listing ads… because that’s what they’ve always done 🙁

  5. Facebook Pages are much more likely to have the higher numbers, purely and simply because the ease in which they can be created and the lack of validation involved.

    I see alot of ‘bogus’ companies with Facebook Pages opposed to Google Places. All too often there are Facebook Pages by people who have a full time job and just want to make a bit of ‘cash on the side’. Facebook is the ideal environment for these types.

    Google Places Pages have more trust and its much more difficult to have a Places listing validated, one particular reason being the requirement to associate a Place Page with a physical address. Ganted there are ways and means to set upo multiple Places Pages, but in comparison to Facebook, its a lot more hassle!

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