Google Place Pages: Who Owns Them?

Filed in Google, Local Search by Matt McGee on February 5, 2010 8 Comments

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….

Comments (8)

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  1. MiriamEllis says:

    I second your idea that a claimed LBC listing be rewarded with 0 competition on a Place Page. Nice thought, Matt.

    But, yes, Google owns Place Pages and, as always, everyone is playing in their backyard.

  2. Andy Walpole says:

    Well yes competitors might be placed on your place page but that works two ways doesn’t it – you’ll be placed next to your competitors on their place pages.

  3. Don Campbell says:

    Absolutely agree Matt. If the listing is claimed they should not promote competitors on the Places page.

    This is exactly why I urge business owners to have their own website and make that the hub of their online activity.

    Relying on a profile page from Google, Yelp or anyone else and sharing that as their web page puts them in a situation where they have no control over what is displayed.

  4. Peter says:

    What scandal! Google evil! Me can’t believe! Are you guys na├»ve or what? Google is not interested in promoting anybody! They want to collect TAX on ALL business activity, that’s all. Just trying to get paid, yo.

    First, you enter you info. Then come “user comments” (Google will own them). Then you’ll be forced to pay them to fend competitors off your page. And while you’re at it, you’ll be able to “sponsor” the page of the business across the street – if they haven’t paid off Google yet. All that will cost you money, of course.

    Ditto for Maps.

    Ditto for StreetView (see their patents of placing “virtual billboards” on real world places).

    And let me not even start with their barcode-scanning initiative.

    Eventually, Google will probably find a way to charge you for keeping your own customers. There are millions of ways to do that – those customers’ GPS-enabled phone could provide one point of pressure.

    So, wake up people. Google wants to get paid by everybody, for stuff they would have gotten for free in a pre-Google world. It is in the process of creative the biggest racket on small businesses ever invented.

  5. Bryan Bliss says:

    Andys comment of how the benefit is mutual for listing on competitors pages, though true, isnt a full story.
    Some of the brick and mortar companies that call on me for help are dealing with situations where google LBC and maps listings have been spammed with dozens of listings for just one business with dozens of redirecting phone numbers, placeholder websites and fake addresses.
    Somestimes the competitors have actually gone in to edit the honest businessmans listing by changing the phone number and even the name.
    Having G list this competitor multiple times on an honest businesses page is quite the spal in the face, especially since an honest shop, with only one honest address and only one listing would theoretically get only one placement on the dozens of spam pages.
    clearly they need to clean this up.
    thanks and take care

  6. Nancy says:

    Your perspective on competition is, I guess, somewhat typical.

    There are a few ways to look at it and I think fear of competition is the one that works the least in a business owner’s favor.

    Competition is a fact of life but fortunately so is the ability to establish a unique offering of service and services, product mix, product quality and virtually each and every aspect of a business…all the elements that make up the brand or “personality” of a business.

    I had this conversation with one of my clients last week and pointed out to her that prospects are motivated to do business with one person rather than another for a myriad of reasons. There is no way you can be everything to everyone …it’s not the route to success.

    Shopping centers…auto malls …proximity of businesses in the same niche work because people want choices……and its convenient for prospects if they don’t find what they want at the first place. It works for both buyers and sellers.

    Google provides information to searchers whether its through paid or free search results and services. Why would it be their responsibility to provide results that are limited to one business?

    Embrace the competition, send them shoppers that don’t find what they are looking for at your business. Make it a point to turn the competition into an asset.

    I’m looking forward to reading more perspectives on this topic.

  7. Matt McGee says:

    This isn’t about fear of competition, Nancy. Any small biz owner worth his/her salt understands there’s competition out there.

    Should a small business owner allow the competition to setup a booth inside her establishment to advertise during business hours? That’s what is happening here. Google is advertising competitors on a page devoted to an individual business.

    >>Why would it be their responsibility to provide results that are limited to one business?<< These aren't search results. The search results were 1-2 clicks earlier. This is a place page -- one place, one business.

  8. Yuriy says:

    Very interesting read indeed, I have actually run myself into situation where o was number one in local listing for long time and just few days ago was pushed back by 7 pages…’s beyound me what’s going on….:(

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