Googleplex on Google Maps
Googleplex on Google Maps

I missed this development from Google – my bad. Fortunately, I stumble on an article about new feature in Google Maps that pretty much shed some light – and raise a question: Will the newest feature of Google Maps, Google Place Pages, threat the very existence of small business websites?

What is Google Maps’ Google Place Pages?

Google Place Pages is a new feature of Google Maps (launched last week) providing you with virtually everything you want to know about a place of interest, including small businesses.

The Google Place Pages contains maps, directions, reviews, related web pages and images – for a small business page, the Place Pages also includes business hours and other related details (such as cuisine, price, parking, etc. for a restaurant.)

Take the Place Pages for Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar in Orlando, FL as an example:

Google Place Pages - Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar in Orlando
Google Place Pages – Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar in Orlando

As you can see, almost everything is included inside the Place Pages – Even the coffee shop setting of “Laid Back Casual” is included. Reading the reviews are the best bet to decide whether you should visit the coffee shop or not.

Why Google Place Pages could render small business websites obsolete, and more?

One main reason: Google list the Place Pages on #1 in its search engine results page (SERP). Using the coffee shop example, here’s what I found searching for “drunken monkey orlando” in Google Search:

Google Search Engine Results Page
Google Search Engine Results Page

What does it all mean? Visitors coming from Google will likely to visit the Google Pages first then the small business websites. What does this significance? Less traffic to small business websites. And eventually, what could result in the lack of traffic? The end of small business websites?

However, that’s just a pessimistic view. What could be worse is that small businesses including the web in their business plan will, in a subtle way, be ‘owned’ by Google. Of course, this is not similar to the small business ownership. What I am saying is that Google will gain more control on how to send visitors to your business and its website, in a way that things will not only be beneficial for the businesses, but also to Google.

Talking about benefits: From the Place Pages example above, you should notice the Google Ads on the right sidebar – While no revenue will be shared with the business listed (maybe in the future, similar to Google Knol that enables article writers to place their AdSense codes?), the ads will definitely beneficial to Google in term of AdWords.

Why?

Advertisers are keen to place their ads on pages that rank #1 on search engine result pages, and Google Place Pages will (always) rank #1 on every keyword a small business website associate his/her website with – Like in the example above, the business brand name itself.

The presence of ads that can’t be controlled by the small businesses listed in the Place Pages can mean one thing: Competing ads – Competitors can place an ad via AdWords in the Place Pages, ‘stealing’ traffic from the Place Pages. This, all in all, could cause a loss to the business listed in the Place Pages.

All in all, whether the small business websites obsolete or not, your small business is here to stay. The Place Pages can drive you more customers – So the Google Place Pages is actually a great thing for your bottom line. What you’ll probably need to do is to revise your business plan regarding your small business’ web presence and web marketing strategy.

What do you think of this latest feature of Google Maps? Please share your opinions by commenting to this article.

Ivan Widjaya
Google Place Pages