Mike Blumenthal’s instant classic Google Local: Train Wreck at the Junction has spawned a lively Google Plus thread where various Localistas have been wringing their hands as to why oh why can’t Google stop screwing SMBs. While I am in agreement that Google Plus Place Local Multi Merge for Business Dashboardgate has been absolutely no fun, to me it seems like just the latest in an ongoing saga of companies trying to serve SMBs and falling short.
While Google and others have done great things for SMBs, small businesses as a group are notoriously hard to serve:
- They are hard to acquire as customers
When you do acquire them, they tend not to want to spend a lot of money
Once you start doing stuff for them, they tend to have a lot of questions/issues, etc. so customer support costs are high
They tend to churn out at a high rate – a lot go out of business, many don’t want to wait for long-term results or don’t invest enough to get meaningful results, and providing great service at the low prices they demand is tough, so they bail
My guess as to the conversations that have gone on at Google:
“We’re having a hard time getting the Google+ Places Merging Dashboard thingy right. The whole thing needs to be rebuilt from the ground up while the car is moving at high speed and we are spread kind of thin at the moment.”
“How’s Adwords Express?”
“We’re hitting our numbers. Businesses that can’t get their Google Places, er I mean +Local, thing right are using it to get on the SERPs.”
“Great. Keep putting band-aids on the problems. We’ll get there eventually. I am sure one of those companies we acquired can figure it out.”
So when I see Google seemingly not investing enough in a coherent product for SMBs, I only partially blame Google. Part of this just seems to be the nature of the beast. As I said on G+, if we went back ten years and substituted “Yellow Pages” for “Google Local”, we’d probably be hearing the same complaints. Still a train wreck, though.
UPDATE: Chris Silver Smith gets on board the train-wreck train (and thinks I am giving Google a pass) – Google Local Is Now A Train Wreck