Google Boost is currently under trial in parts of the USA and if it goes well, will likely migrate worldwide. We’ve been looking at Google Boost and can see many benefits for certain types of businesses, but also some pitfalls.
Google Boost appears to be perfect for small businesses, located in one or more geographical locations (e.g. a single restaurant or chain of restaurants) – purely because it’s so simple to use. The steps a business needs to follow are:
1. Claim (or create anew) their Google Places profile.
2. Opt in to Google Boost, selecting a few tick boxes (e.g. Chinese restaurant), and how much budget they’re prepared to pay per month.
That’s it – nice and simple. They don’t need to create an Adwords campaign, set up any geographical targeting, or anything complicated at all.
Taking the example of a restaurant (as shown on http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/10/advertise-your-local-business-with.html), when people search for that type of restaurant in that geographical location, an advert appears where you see the other pay per click results. The restaurant gets clicks and Google makes money.
The benefits for the business owner is that they don’t have to pay external resources (e.g. people like Custwin) to create Adwords campaigns – that will be an immediate saving for them as they’ll only be paying Google. No-one can dispute that this would be a major plus.
What remains to be seen though is how effective such Google Boost advertising actually is. Taking round figures, suppose a restaurant allows £100 per month for their Google Boost clicks, which generates them, say, 100 clicks – if they gain business that exceeds that investment (in terms of profits) then that’s clearly a winner. But what if their website isn’t strong enough? A lack of testimonials, no menus to view, and a lot more besides, all contribute to people not bothering to make contact with the restaurant. Google won’t tell them that their website isn’t good – it’ll just take their clicks budget. What also, if Google are actually conning the Google Boost advertiser? Here’s how that could happen:
Currently, Google Adwords accounts can be set up so that you allocate a budget and let Google position your adverts as they see fit. You generally get higher positioning of adverts but pay a lot more for the clicks. Google Boost appears to work in the same way – you pay a monthly budget and Google will do its best to give you good advert positioning – that means you’d pay higher costs per click. Let’s look then at an alternative scenario, looking at two restaurant owners competing for business in the same location …
Restaurant A is using Google Boost and has allocated £100 per month for clicks. It spends that budget and gets 100 clicks.
Restaurant B is using an Adwords expert, who they’ve had to pay to create the campaign, but for their £100 clicks budget they get 200 clicks.
If Restaurant A has had no professional input on the strength of the website then their 100 clicks may not amount to great levels of enquiries. If Restaurant B has had input on their website strength, even before spending money on clicks, then they can make their website stronger. Their Adwords expert has also created a campaign that’s so much more in-depth than the Google Boost system will create, and so they get more clicks for their budget, and for a wider range of search phrases.
Personally, if Google Boost comes to the UK I’d relish the opportunity to take a restaurant and beat their competitor (who has been convinced that they need to use Google Boost). Within a period of time it would probably be possible to make the restaurant so successful (via website changes and a good Adwords campaign) that it significantly damages the competitor who has relied on Google Boost. It would be a fantastic experiment to do and a poke in the eye for Google, who continue to search for ways in which they can raise the costs per click for advertisers.
There’s more to consider on this subject though. It’s not been that long since Google made the Google Places listings much more prominent in the main search results. At the time, many people thought it was a nice gesture to help small businesses get a higher profile. Our view was that it was a method to push downwards the other organic search engine results and force more companies into considering Adwords advertising. Now it’s clear that this was part of a bigger plan – make the Places more prominent but then add in an upsell so that instead of being amongst the list of Places listings, a company can be in the paid search results more prominently. This stimulates more companies in the Places listings to consider using Google Boost.
There are still many unanswered questions about Google Boost and so it’ll be great to have the opportunity to get our hands on it when it hits the UK because it’ll probably not take long to demonstrate how it’s detrimental to the potential success of those who use it. For some businesses though it’ll seem great – a restaurant who pays £100/month to bring in, say, 100 visitors to their website, is going to be on a winner if, say, 10% of those become diners. Those diners only have to be worth £10 profit each to cover costs and anything else is profit and also the opportunity to impress those diners enough so that they return, as well as spread the ‘good restaurant’ news to their friends and family. Where it’ll get interesting though is when a Google Boost advertiser then gets competition from another restaurant who has used outside help to gain a lot more from their website traffic, and the cost per acquisition per diner becomes lower.
It’ll be a way off before we see Google Boost in the UK but watch this space because we’ll have a lot more to say on this subject, backed up by hard evidence instead of theory.