The Pros and Cons of Google Place Pages

January 5th, 2010 by Search Influence Alumni

Google’s idea of giving small businesses their own page through their project, Place Pages for Google Maps, has got local search buzzing with the SEO implications of this move for small business websites. Could Place Pages provide competition in the SERPS for the small business website? It’s possible. Will they be bad for business? That’s not so clear.

For one, a business without a high ranking or optimized website would benefit from the obvious boost of having Google display “all the information for that place in one place” on its very own Place Page. On the other hand, the fact that Place Pages also provide user-generated content, in the form of reviews, has just made the task of online reputation management that much harder.

Local businesses put a lot of stock in review sites like Yelp to boost their local search rankings in Google, and Place Pages are likely to provide significant competition to Yelp, especially since it seems to be pulling information – on everything from hours of operation to a restaurant’s price range – from sources such as Citysearch and Zagat, but not from Yelp.

Some bloggers have noted that Place Pages could become a powerhouse for local business owners and users, as well as the go-to pages for numerous facts about all kinds of places. Will they encourage more local businesses to claim their listings? Google believes they will.

Since Place Pages are likely to have a unique URL, it’s possible they will be indexed in the organic results. As one blogger observed, Google’s obsession with testing landing pages has ensured that Place Pages double up as well-optimized landing pages.

Contrary to the fears that Place Pages will eliminate the need for small business websites, we believe they will only complement our optimization efforts. As far as business benefits and search listings go, Google has just offered local business owners another avenue to reach their customer, and that can’t be all bad.

Since it seems inevitable that Place Pages will have a significant presence in the search listings, it would seem wise to use them to “leverage advanced image and video tagging, push Barnacle SEO to a new level and leverage the heck out of them” to claim a bigger slice of the local search pie.

If you’re a local business owner, providing Google with information for your Place Page can only facilitate your overall business goals of reaching out to your customer. Whether you require the help of an SEO firm to achieve this, or not, Place Pages will involve more, not less, work for local SEO firms.