Google Website, their single page website builder, is becoming more widely available. The product is still in beta but the increasing user reports of its availability (h/t to Thibault Adda, the local seo at Darden Restaurants for his Tweet) and the increasing number of sites at the domain suggests that the product is moving toward release.
Growth of sites at the domain business.site (the new location for the sites) has moved from 5680 sites on April 17th to 39,3000 today. Growth at the original domain, business.google.com/website, has stopped and still shows 269,000 sites.
I first reported on the product in January of this year. The web builder, a single page, easy to create, mobile optimized page, is well designed to capture usage in the developing countries where a web presence has not been a required business marketing activity.
Its usefulness in the US is limited although I suppose it makes sense for companies that have chosen a Facebook only approach that want greater search presence. It might also make sense as a quick tool to test Adwords Express landing pages.
In all of the above scenarios Google has their work cut out for them persuading businesses to create a web presence in countries where none has been required or to supplement a Facebook only web presence with another tool.
When combined with their Knowledge Panel direct Chat with a customer feature and the Posts product (both being seen more and more in the wild), Google seems poised to release a growing suite of easy to use features targeting small business users.
While the features themselves may be easy to use, there is no obvious solution to over coming the complexity that confronts a business when they attempt to increase their search presence.
While Google is delivering a lot of presale traffic to businesses, many are not aware of just how much. Often, rather than measure Google success with performance indicators like calls or driving directions, businesses measure their success based on keyword searches like “my category + my city search”. Google’s unwillingness to provide a clear path from Website builder to showing for “my vanity keyword search” creates a very real tension.
In the case of the Knowledge Panel messaging feature that Google has been testing, many businesses I spoke with are fearful of one more communication channel with the customer.
Google has their work cut out for them convincing these small businesses to use the product and then, more importantly, clearly demonstrating its value to them.
Historically Google has not budgeted much if any money for advertising. Products either sunk or swum by virtue of their viral uptake. This is one of those times when Google would be well advised to open the purse strings and spend some money.
Google My Business Website Appearing More Broadly - Release Imminent? by Mike Blumenthal