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google smbintermediate
Oooh ... provocative, right?
So I don't think Google really "hates" anyone, but I think over the years they've unintentionally made things a little bit more difficult for small business owners. Not because small business owners aren't good marketers, or don't have good marketers on staff -- but because they have fewer resources and less time than companies with large marketing departments. So while Google has continued to improve upon its user experience, in my opinion, those improvements have also put a lot of small business owners at a disadvantage if they're trying to use Google for marketing.
This isn't to say small businesses should stop focusing on Google as a marketing engine -- it just means they'll have to work a little harder. Here's what I mean when I say Google's makin' it tough for SMBs to succeed there for marketing.

How Google Has Made Marketing Harder for Small Businesses

Now You Kind of Have to Use Google+

Time for a little confession, folks -- every time I write about Google Local versus Google Places, I have to (ironically) Google which one is the current one. I just. Can't. Remember. But more on that later.
What I do remember is that Google+ Local (that's what it is -- Google+ Local replaced Google Places) is now making it so that if you have a local small business, you kind of have to use Google+ if you want an optimized local listing.
But even if you're not too concerned with your business' local listing, Google+ is still weighing very heavily on SERP listings. If you're at all concerned with your company's SEO, you should really be investing time in Google+. That's all well and good for companies with dedicated social media or community managers -- but for many small businesses that have a social media manager who is also playing the role of blogger, site manager, email marketer, and salesperson, adding yet another social network to your repertoire is a much taller order.

Google Reviews Remain a Bit of a Mystery

How do you get them? I thought I had more, did you take them down? Why? Do I have too many, or too few?
These are the questions. And while the answers aren't that hard to find through a simple, well, Google search ... the way they "work" is still kind of mysterious. For example, did you know you also have to use Google+ to get reviews? Yep, they're associated with your Google+ Local account. And did you know that you get a score with kind of vague numerical associations? Yep, here's what the scoring guide looks like:


google reviews scoring guide

That doesn't look like any rating system I'm used to seeing -- as a consumer or a marketer. Why so confusing? Did you also know that sometimes other reviews are pulled into your listing? For example, if you're a restaurant, a searcher might see a Zagat review pulled up. Here, take a look: