Update on Google’s SMB Website Builder

Phil Barnhart, Director of Marketing at NehMedia, reported out a new test version of Google’s Website Builder. The product appears to have a few upgrades from the previous version I reviewed in January.

As Phil noted in his post, it still is limited in many ways: It’s not ready for prime-time – there are no analytics for the business user, no tie-in to your social media account, etc. And obviously the photo management issue.. So while it doesn’t appear to have fixed the many photo , content issues or page limits that I found, it does now support the ability to add links.

Here is the site that Phillip developed:  Moments of the Heart Photography based in Austin.

Of greater interest to me is that Google has now placed the sites at a new domain: business.site. The domain was created April 17, 2017 and currently is showing 5680 sites indexed.

This compares to the earlier Url, which is hosted in a subfolder of their business.google.com domain: business.google.com/website/. It currently is showing 269,000 results returned in the index.

This 269,000 sites/pages compares to the 122,000 returned in January of this year1.

Some (ok more than some) thoughts.

  • Clearly the test is expanding and has shown significant uptake since January.
  • In my mind at least, the switch to a new, non-Google domain indicates that they will attempt to rank these pages like they do any other and will start with a clean slate.
  • The problem of lack of on-going SMB engagement, that I noted in January, still plagues this product and the Google My Business center in general. This product is mostly one and done and does nothing to create the stickiness that has long been lacking in Google.
  • That being said this product does create relatively rich semantic content that Google can use to better understand what a business does and where they do it.
  • And like many Google products of late, this has that “rabbit hole” feel where the end user is caught in the vortex of Google’s alternate reality. You go in and you may never come out until you have read enough ads or taken an action to contact the business.
  • And like many efforts at Google there is an odd (but normal for Google) approach to creating multiple website builders and website building tools across multiple of their products. Who knew that Google even has a desktop based program called Web Designer. It always leaving me feeling that at one point they will trim the excess leaving someone (not them) left holding the bag.
  • There is also a continued emphasis on countries which are just starting to come on line. In some sense, these countries represent a tremendous opportunity and Google’s greatest risk.
  • Many are mobile only countries where the web has not matured. As such Google risks not being able to “see” which businesses exist, which are more relevant and which are more prominent as these businesses either are using Facebook first or are only visible in an app or not at all.

Google needs the web to ply its trade and to play to its strengths. As such being able to put businesses on line in a web space that Google can see, monitor, measure and control users interactions, is an existential struggle for them and one where they will not go gently into the night.

1 Here is a comparison of the country volume I found in January vs now:




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2 thoughts on “Update on Google’s SMB Website Builder”

  1. Interesting, I somehow missed this completely!
    I just reviewed the post from January, and agree that this may be nice for small businesses who can’t afford much on a website to build their own, but I’m trying to understand what the other benifits might be. Do you think there ever may be an advantage for a business to have a site by SMB builder AND a website of their own?

  2. @Danielle
    As it is configured it is designed for businesses just coming online in the developing world.

    In places like India where the WWW of business websites hasn’t yet materialized, it is an effort by Google to help it do so. If those businesses DON’T go to a website then the essence of what Google offers will be threatened.

    It might also allow Google to address the 25% or so of small businesses in the US and Europe that currently have not yet built a site and don’t want anything very complex.

    I see little value in it as an SEO play for a business with a decent site.

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