Google currently has numerous initiatives aimed at reaching the UK small business owner but many of these conflict with each other and none appear to be achieving much traction.  

With at least four projects all aimed at achieving the same goal would Google not be better off picking one strategy and sticking with it?

There aren’t many established businesses who operate online and who aren’t already engaging in Google Adwords in some way.

With Google’s dominance in the search market place the only way they can look to grow Adwords revenues within the £5,000 per month and above bracket is through supporting agencies in convincing clients to spend more, and sometimes even recommending strategies that are more beneficial to their quarterly earnings than to the advertisers bottom line.

Product expansion aside, the best way for them to grow their revenues is to find new businesses not yet using Google Adwords, most notably the SME market.

While a single SME isn’t going to make a dent in Google’s figures, when you consider that SME’s account for 99% of all UK businesses(according to the department for business innovation and skills), the total marketing budget of this sector is something Google is keen to tap into.  

How it does so effectively however, is something that Google doesn’t seem to have decided, and its mixed up efforts mean it isn't making much headway in this area.

Google’s routes to the SME market

Google currently has a number of projects in place aimed at attacking the SME market:

Google reseller scheme

The reseller scheme is aimed at partners with large SME client bases who wish to offer Google Adwords as an additional service. More prominent in the US, there are only a handful of registered resellers in the UK.  

In return for being part of the programme a reseller gets support from a Google Account Manager and access reseller technology but must ensure a certain percentage of all PPC spend goes Google’s way.

Google Jumpstart

The Google Jumpstart programme is aimed at advertisers who want help setting up a Google Adwords account. Google has a team of individuals who, providing you meet certain criteria, will set you up and account and build a campaign for you to get you started.

Get British Business Online (GBBO)

The GBBO scheme is a joint partnership between Google, BT, eskills UK and Enterprise UK and provides SMEs with a free website and domain name to get them up and running, I also believe it comes with some free Google Adwords Vouchers.

Google Adwords Vouchers

Google Adwords Vouchers are pretty freely available in the market and are aimed at providing the SME with some free clicks in the hope they see the benefit and start paying for a campaign once the free budget is exhausted.

On top of this you obviously also have the SME focussed independent search agencies who are in the market trying to service clients.  

Convoluted efforts

The problem I have is not with any of these initiatives, they are all pretty sound, but just that they in many ways conflict each other, and all in all lead to a jumbled mess of a strategy.

The Google reseller scheme is only open to business with very large client bases already, which limits its reach and potential, while the Jumpstart programme is only open to businesses new to Adwords with an available budget of £5,000 per month or more, which makes its use pretty limited.  

The Google Adwords vouchers are great, but aren’t available for use by agencies, and most end up in the hands of affiliates, meaning again that their use is limited. Meanwhile, the GBBO scheme feels like it is going to have a lot of cross over with the reseller initiative.

Surely Google would be better deciding on one strategy for this market, and focussing on making that a success. With so many projects attacking the same market they are making things even more confusing for the SME which will lead to many of them abandoning pay per click all together.

Robert Weatherhead

Published 1 September, 2010 by Robert Weatherhead


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Comments (8)

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Paul Martin

Google seem to be forcing the hand of SME's. Their recent algorithm update in the US (soon to be in the UK) that allows one SuperBrand to dominate the 1st page of search results for branded queries, such as "Apple iPod" or "Dell PC". This means that SME's selling these branded products can no longer, organically, appear on the 1st page for these queries. Google are effectively saying to them, "if you want to be on the 1st page, you have to pay us and use our PPC AdWords". See Paul

almost 8 years ago


Paul Martin

Sorry, my previous link didn't get rendered. Try that again:

almost 8 years ago


Gareth Rees

I think Google needs to step up to the plate a little further with local search too. A majority of "smaller" SME's are local businesses and the customer service speed and information in this area could be so much better If a small business sees some results from local search, I think it's going to be much more interested in looking at other advertising options Google has available. Knocking out all the spam in this area would be a good start too.

almost 8 years ago



Based on what you've said, it seems Google has a fundamental marekting problem:

It's trying to figure out how it can extract more money from small businesses. What it needs to do is figure out what it can offer those businesses that will help them generate more profits.

Most small businesses after spending just a few thousand dollars on Adwords over a few months without seeing any result will simply stop using Adwords.

They are not stupid.

And even if they were, they simply can't afford that sort of expenditure without getting a profitable result.

PS Please se captcha codes that humans can read

almost 8 years ago

Robert Weatherhead

Robert Weatherhead, Operations Director at Latitude Express

I think the suggestion that Google is just looking for more ways to push people towards spending more on Adwords (as suggested by Paul and Mark) is a little unfair.  Yes Google makes its money through adwords but it also relies on people continuing to use their search engine which requires them to provide the best results and solutions for advertisers.

Gareth certainly has a point about making Google Places and local search but this only goes some way to meeting the SME need as they arent all local businesses. Many are online retailers where physical location is less important.

Whats more important is that Google finds the best approach to this market place and sticks with it.  This should be a balance of their own objectives (reaching as many as possible and producing as much spend as possible) and meeting the needs of the SME as Mark suggests.  

At the moment they aren't really giving any of these initiatives enough focus to make them a success.  As a result both the SME, and the sector (including the service providers operating in it) suffer.

almost 8 years ago

Andy Headington

Andy Headington, CEO at Adido Limited

I agree somewhat with Paul in that the recent updates have tended to favour the big boys for common/popular SEO phrases. However, most SMEs just can't entertain the idea of PPC to compete on these terms, so in effect Google will end up losing out by doing this (I didn't understand the rational for these new updates, it doesn't seem a smart move). I still they have got a big play in them somewhere on local & SME market. While these intiatives have undoubtedly made some headway, I think there are some more ideas and ways of working which we haven't seen yet which will get them a little more of the little guy.

almost 8 years ago


Inheritance Advice

Google is hand in glove with such fraudsters as WSI and Reach Local who have mastered the art of fleecing the customer. It is in Google's interest that the advertiser through campains mismanaged by Reachlocal etc spends more than he needs to.

almost 8 years ago


Avoid Care Home Fees

Mark is right on the 2 point he raises - any business, especially a small business can only throw away so much money to no effect.

What is the story with these illegible captchas?

almost 8 years ago

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