Google announced that tens of thousands of customers have been using the Google Tags service with their Places listing during the beta program in the last many months. For $25/month, business owners could put a little yellow “tag” on their listing that points to a coupon, video, their website or a photo. We’ve been promoting tags as a great way to separate your listing from the rest of the pack, because when you’re looking at a listing of 7 lawyers or insurance agents, the tags help you to stand out.
For the small business, spending $25 to make yourself stand out a little, is a no brainer. It gives the small business owner an opportunity to get an extra link, and promote something special. This is a simple thing to make them stand out from the others in the pack.
Google said in their blog, “We’ve made a decision to shift our efforts toward other present and future product offerings for local businesses, and will be discontinuing this trial. To that end, we’ve now halted new signups and will be working with existing participating businesses over the coming weeks to help them meet their marketing needs with other Google products where possible.”
Interestingly, Google doesn’t seem to have told the rest of the team yet. As the Search Engine Watch blog points out, if you search Google for information on Google Tags, the first link goes to their help page which returns a 404 “not found” error.
More Money For Google?
Looking Google’s help about Tags, they suggest alternatives that you might try, including Google Boost or Location Extensions in your Adwords account. Boost is their new beta product (not available everywhere yet) that allows you to put your Places listing in the Adwords section with a blue thumbtack.
My opinion? Boost means more money for them – it’s a pay for performance tool, not a flat fee like Tags. But I also believe that by moving the Places listing into the paid section, you might get a lower click-through than having it in the organic, free Places listing. Everyone knows that paid listings generate only 10-20% of the clicks versus 80-90% in the free organic section.
I have no empirical data to support that theory – it’s just a hunch, since I have no clients (yet?) who have asked to be put on the Boost program.
It’s too bad that Google is pulling the plug on Tags. It’s a nice, easy, low cost way for a business to get themselves to stand out a little from the rest of the pack. Instead, it’s being pulled for more expensive options that will probably put it out of reach of many small business owners.
What’s your take on this?