For the last several years Google has had what I’ve actually found to be a pretty interesting piece of software: The ability to generate a very basic website based off of information in your Google Business Profile page. It’s a mostly static landing page that lacks even basic functionality and is no substitute for a website, but they can display basic information perfectly fine and most notably they’re free. They also can’t be branded with a personalized domain name and use domainname.business.site as a structural URL, but for very small businesses that just don’t have the interest in a website and don’t mind that type of online name, it does the job.
Google has been memed into oblivion for putting limited work into, abandoning or just outright shutting down really interesting projects that it cooks up. Some of them like the Google Translator Toolkit or Google Fusion Tables have been more than a decade old. Others like Dragonfly, Blog Compass or Reply didn’t even last a year. It’s a shame, because many of them had solid applications or potential even if they found a more niche audience.
It’s such a notorious practice that there’s an entire website dedicated to Google’s product victims, currently sitting at 298 products officially given the axe.
I expect this site to be updated soon, because Google has officially made the announcement that Business Sites will be shut down on March of 2024. By that date websites made with Google Business Profiles will be redirected to the Business Profile itself, and then the redirect will stop working entirely by June 10, 2024.
Interestingly and somewhat confusingly Business Sites is a completely separate software from Google Sites, which is Google’s website builder and editor. Though given Google’s penchant for taking things offline when it doesn’t get the adoption rate it wants, I wouldn’t put too much trust in that either.
Unlike the Google Analytics 4 transition that sent everyone scrambling, I suspect this will cause more of a localized uproar limited to the smallest of small business communities given that they’re the types of people who generally use Business Sites, or have Business Sites constructed for them by Google automatically.
It’s both a shame to see a fairly useful software like this get retired, and also a cautionary tale about Google’s fickleness when it comes to maintaining services that it perceives has having limited appeal.