There may be a new kind of small business internet ad coming to Google that will offer you a low cost means to advertise online – the Google Enhanced Listing. For now Google is testing the service in Houston and San Jose but most agree we’ll see the Google Enhanced Listing offered in all markets later this year.
At only $25, the Google Enhanced Listing is designed to highlight a part of your business (a coupon, video or just your home page) on the Google search results pages. A small yellow flag appears next to your business listing on the Google Maps 7-pack and also on the map itself.
Here’s an example of a local skateboard shop that was recently featured in the New York Times article These Battle Lines are Drawn in Yellow.
As a small business owner you’re acutely aware of how expensive and ineffective local advertising can be.
When paid search ads (pay-per-click ads) were new on Google and other search engines they were initially dirt cheap and highly effective. As the market became competitive and bid prices rose, the price to win a ‘click’ skyrocketed to the point where small business owners like you and I found ourselves in all too familiar territory – being spent out of the market. The same experience we’ve had with online banner advertising and before that print Yellow Pages, Newspaper, Direct Mail, Coupons and the PennySaver. The NYT article I cited earlier provides a great example.
“But one of his sure-fire ways to drive Web visitors and foot traffic — buying search ads on Google — got to be pretty expensive. Mr. Cowie, whose shop is just 1,000 square feet, found himself bidding for placement against deep-pocketed national chains, and having to spend $1,500 to $2,000 a month just to keep up.” – New York Times article These Battle Lines Are Drawn in Yellow
This experience is why we still use and champion organic search engine optimization, social media and web marketing. These methods have no associated advertising costs and the money invested in effective web design, marketing ideas and organic Local SEO are largely one-time costs that are quickly recovered, unlike ads that you have to keep paying for indefinitely with dubious effect.
The best part of Google’s Enhanced Business Listing is that it’s s flat fee. For now it’s also very affordable at $25 a month. We’ll have to wait and see how effective it is. In the early days early adopters will likely see a big impact but after the product saturates the Google maps listings expect results to dwindle sharply. Then we’ll be back where we started – finding unique ideas and marketing methods to make our business stand out and creating web designs, video and copy that converts shoppers into buyers.