What can small businesses do now Google Business Websites are closed down?

For the past few years, Google Business Websites have been recommended for small businesses who don’t have the budget, or need, to build a more comprehensive site of their own.

However, earlier this month, Google turned off its free, single-page website builder. So what does that mean for the small businesses who relied on their Google Business Website? And what can they do instead? To find out, we asked Miriam Ellis, Local Search Scientist at SEO experts Moz. Here are her recommendations.

What are Google Business Websites?

Google Business Websites were a product Google launched in 2017 to enable local business owners to build a free, one-page site. 

When were they shut down and why?

Google shut down this product in March of 2024, without explanation. We can theorize that the program didn’t meet internal goals, but it’s important to note that millions of the smallest business owners on the slimmest budgets were using the product around the world.

Google is continually experimenting with products they then later shut down, making it a known risk to rely too heavily on any one Google asset.

What will happen to businesses that used them?

These sites are now gone, and are being temporarily redirected to the Google Business Profile of the same account, but that redirect will also end. After June 10th, 2024, customers trying to find a business that formerly had a Google Business site will not find anything unless the business owner quickly builds a new site of their own on a different platform. 

What should businesses do instead? Are there any other free options?

The greatest appeal of this Google product was that it was free, giving some help to businesses with no budget for website design and hosting. If you’ve lost your site as a result of Google’s shutdown, it’s important to know that there are many website builder programs out there that run special deals, like your first year free, after which you will have to pay.

This can work if you feel your business will be profitable enough within a year to afford to pay for a domain and hosting, and you have the necessary time to learn to design a simple site in their system.

However, I’m going to suggest an alternative to going with a first-year-free offer. This is my best advice on this: if you can get together $12 USD, check out the offering Whitespark has launched in response to Google’s shutdown. Whitespark is an old and trusted provider, and their new product will enable you to run a one-page website for $1 a month.

I recommend them because they know local search better than any of the other providers and because the investment is so modest. This product has been developed specifically to meet the needs of people who have lost their Google sites and I highly recommend considering it if you can get together the necessary funds.

How can businesses create a strong presence in just one page? What’s important to include?

A one-page website has to be like an online brochure of your business. I’ve created a mockup of a strong single page site in a recent column at Moz which will help you make sure you are including multiple signals that are key to converting customers. These signals include:

  • Your header tag featuring your unique selling proposition and city or service area words, letting customers know exactly what you offer as soon as they reach the page
  • Your complete contact information, including business name, address, phone number, text number, email address, and hours of operation
  • Your best photos or video content to illustrate what you do
  • Your first paragraph of text describing everything your business offers
  • A bulleted list of all your main goods/services
  • Reviews or testimonials from your customers
  • Links to your social profiles
  • An embedded map of your physical location or service area
  • A clear call to action (CTA). What do you most want customers to do after visiting your site? Call you, book an appointment, come to your premises, fill out a form? Make it clear with your CTA.
Example of a single page website

Remember that one-page sites don’t have to be short. They can include as much content and media as you like. Just be sure the details I’ve outlined, above, are high up on the page so that people in a hurry can find what they need quickly to decide if they want to do business with you.

How should small businesses be using their Google Business Profile going forward?

It can be hard to listen to the advice that your Google Business Profile still matters as much as ever (and even more, if you’ve lost your site!) Small business owners aren’t wrong to feel disappointed about Google offering a free product they then suddenly took away a few years later.

You might not feel very good about continuing to depend on Google right now, but the fact is that Google Business Profiles are one of the most important assets for local businesses of all sizes. 

Double down on your efforts to fill out every field of your listing. A full Google Business Profile is like a mini website, containing contact information, a map, photos, videos, reviews, Q&A, a description, and so much more. Make maximum use of this still-free Google product to convert searchers into customers.

Any other tips for small businesses who want to get found on Google?

I have two additional tips to share in the face of the Google Business sites shutdown.

1) Provide excellent customer service

First, focus in on the excellence of your customer service. This is the foundation of business success, longevity, and online reputation, regardless of the size of the company.

One example that recently impressed me comes from a solo entrepreneur dogwalker who needed to think of a way to stand out in a competitive urban market. She began making little inexpensive dog gifts at the holidays for her existing clients. For example, she crocheted heart charms for her dogs to have on their collars for Valentine’s day, and sewed jack-o-lantern-printed fabric bandanas for the pups for Hallowe’en.

Her creative friendliness is earning her enough clients to fill up all the hours of her day now. Do everything you can to inspire your current customers to be so delighted with your business that they refer family and friends to you. The nice thing about offline word-of-mouth marketing is that it isn’t dependent on Google or any other online platform.

2) Embrace the demand for video marketing

My second tip is to embrace the huge demand there is right now for video marketing. Video content can help you broaden your rankings for all kinds of terms, and it can be just what a customer needs to decide to choose your business.

The problem is that many business owners on tight budgets don’t have the high-quality mobile phones that produce great videos. Not to worry. If you’ve got a logo and half a dozen decent photos of your business, you can create a video slideshow for free in Canva, save it as an MP4 file and upload it to your website, Google Business Profile, social profiles and even YouTube.

I’ve created a free tutorial that will walk you through this really easy process, step-by-step here. Even if you’ve never made a video before, you can do this! 

Author: Miriam Ellis, Local Search Scientist at Moz. Backed by the largest community of SEOs on the planet, Moz builds the tools that make SEO, content marketing, market research, digital PR, and local SEO easy.