It might not have reached the UK yet, but the recent news that Google’s Home Services ad program is rebranding as Local Services by Google, and expanding to 17 US cities with plans to be in 30 cities by the end of the year…is a telling sign that it could soon be with us.
We covered the launch of the Beta service back in 2015, and at the time suggested it was indication that the local pack was becoming more important to Google than organic SERPs. This trend has blossomed over the two years since, and for local businesses who get it right, the rebranded service has the potential to be an exciting lead generation tool.
In a nutshell, Local Services by Google enables local tradesmen and small businesses to be verified via Google (a process that takes approximately two weeks as license and insurance details are manually checked) so that they are certified and awarded the Google guarantee badge. The Local Services unit appears at the top of Google search results (as the image below shows), when an individual is searching for a local tradesman or service provider. Categories currently available include locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC and garage door services, and in some areas additional options such as handyman and house cleaning services are on offer. Individuals searching for a service can read verified reviews, and have the option to contact featured businesses there and then, either by phone or through a direct message, which can be very appealing when the nature of the job is urgent. Users can also submit lead forms through the service.
How does it work?
The features and functionality of Local Services by Google have expanded since the Beta launch, and importantly the product is supported by a new app available on iOS and Android (when previously it was accessed via AdWords Express). Participating tradesmen and businesses can set-up a customised profile page which shows customer reviews, contact information, trading hours and some blurb about themselves or the business. The ratings can come via Google My Business or from leads received through the program.
What’s particularly interesting for businesses is that instead of the auction-based bidding model typical to Google, leads are priced for each job type in each area (which Google says is based upon the cost of the job and demand for it). Businesses can see the price of a lead when they sign up in the app, and they are able to set a weekly budget according to the number of leads they would like to receive.
Google has been typically vague about how businesses are ranked within the ad unit, but it has suggested that factors include how long it take a business to respond to messages sent through the ads, the quality of reviews and ratings, their location in relation to the searching customer, along with many other considerations.
So, for now, UK tradesman and small businesses can still make the most of services available through ‘Google My Business’. But it seems highly likely that Google will continue its rollout of Local Services by Google throughout the US, and by some point next year, it could feasibly be worldwide. In preparation, now’s the time for tradesmen to make sure that everything is in order within their Google profile, and that positive reviews and ratings are being gathered from happy customers, to help with their verification…when the time comes.