Google announced it is dropping the Tags feature for its Places product - a feature they were selling to small businesses to promote their location and products or services through Google Maps. The unfortunate thing is the disconnect did not show any Google team unity and has left people wondering what to do.
If you have been using this beta test product you may have received an email (hopefully they did that - I do not use so did not get one) about the service being discontinued. If you had been thinking about using it you are too late. The Google Small Business blog just announced they are closing this offering.
"As users increasingly rely on tools like Google Maps and Places for information about the world around them, we're working hard to develop products that help local businesses highlight themselves and their offerings.
Last year, we introduced our trial for Google Tags, a way for businesses to highlight their organic Google Places listing with a yellow tag that showcases offers, photos, videos, menu, and reservations for a flat monthly fee.
Since that experiment began, tens of thousands of businesses have used Tags to help potential customers make easier, more informed decisions when searching. Throughout this period, we monitored Tags closely to learn more about our users' business needs and how they used the product.
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.
We've learned a lot from our Tags trial and will take that knowledge into account as we continue to find the best ways to serve users and local businesses alike. Lastly, we want to thank all of the businesses that were part of our Tags trial, and we hope we can meet their advertising needs with one of our existing products," the blog post stated.
But what about people who want to know a little more? If you do a search for Google Places tags the first result is from the Google Help forums and it gives a 404 page. Now that is a complete disconnect from the company who wants to organize all the world's information.
You would think they would be better organized. Guess Larry decided to drop the service but did not let all the other teams know what was going on so they could at least give users information on this. Why close the help area for the product? People would be using this to find out what to do etc.
The company had started a 300 man telemarketing service to push Tags - the highlighted yellow markers designed to grab location searchers attention - but the few months it has been in service may not have been returning the right ROI.
One has to wonder what other services Google will be dropping in the near future now that Larry Page has taken over as CEO. They have dropped Hotpot and rolled it in to Places, the Trends information has dropped Hot Topics and during all these changes Larry has had an executive shakeup.
Guess the executives have been too busy dealing with the changes in staff to realize the usual smooth transition of services and the supporting information has gone off the rails with Tags.
No doubt Larry will tag someone in to the problem and it will be fixed quickly, or the Webmaster Tools team will see it in their 404 reports.
UPDATE: Google has made changes to the links and even reached out to let me know they were coming. Jim Prosser, Global Communications & Public Affairs Manager, sent me the following email:
"Jim Prosser at Google here. Just to give you a big more info on the Tags sunsetting, the redirect you speak was in the process of going live and should be up imminently. As far as the affected customers go, we're getting in touch with all of them via e-mail to make sure they're aware of the sunsetting of the trial and helping them migrate to other Google products as appropriate."
Guess just came across all this too quickly. An interesting note - Jim Prosser also works with the new +1 feature - when will that be added to Google Maps?