Google Local Services Ads & The Google Guarantee

HomeAdvisor connected homeowners with screened, service professionals to complete home improvement, remodeling, and maintenance jobs.

Angie’s List used trusted, quality reviews to connect people to the best local service providers.

Google has been working on directly competing against HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List, and now ANGI Homeservices, for local pay-per-lead services.

Since HomeAdvisor merged with the better-known Angie’s List in October 2017, becoming ANGI Homeservices, it is really time for Google to step things up.

Enter Local Services by Google; Google’s answer to lead-selling.

The service started out as “Google Home Services” and re-branded to Local Services by Google – probably because they want to extended this form of advertising well outside of the home services space.  This form of advertising is currently available to these types of businesses:

  • Locksmiths
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC
  • Garage door services

It’s been running on the West Coast for months and in ~20 major marketing in the second half of 2017.  Google Local Service Ads Kansas City is coming soon as well as for the rest of the nation.

The first cities offered in 2017 were:

  • Arizona: Phoenix
  • California: Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose
  • Florida: Miami
  • Georgia: Atlanta
  • Illinois: Chicago
  • Massachusetts: Boston
  • Michigan: Detroit
  • New York: New York
  • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Texas: Dallas
  • Washington: Seattle
  • Washington, D.C.

How Google Local Services Works

In some ways, the Google Local Services is similar to AdWords. In this case, however, Google is between the seller and the customer, in what might be considered a gatekeeper position.

A Google Local Services ad appears with a box around it, a star rating, and the “Google guaranteed” icon and text where applicable.

The Google guarantee is a great selling point; customers know that they have nothing to lose but time if the work is guaranteed by Google.

The ads also come with a phone number. This is not the business telephone number, however, but a phone number assigned by Google.

Google retains the consumer’s forwarding number for 15 days from the last contact with the consumer. This allows Google to track and monitor the relationship.

Costs of Using Local Services by Google

The cost of a lead through Google Local Services can work out to about $25 per lead.

Note, however, that you may have to compete with other contractors. You will still need to work to turn your lead into a client.

This is good business for Google, as they can sell a lead to multiple contractors.

Right now, the setup is similar to what you will see from ANGI Homeservices. Over time, however, knowing Google, it’s likely to evolve into a bid system.

As with AdWords, you only pay for leads when customers click on your listing. And your ads will appear as long as you have money in your weekly budget.

How to Participate in the Google Local Services Program

Local Services by Google is by invitation only. Google is more involved in the process because they are offering guarantees. Businesses must be insured and pre-screened.  If it’s offered in your city currently, you can signup for Google Local Services at this link.

The Google Guarantee is good for participating businesses, because it means that the business can offer a money back guarantee, even if they are not already offering such a thing. A worry-free guarantee is a big selling point.

You may be invited to participate in the program if you have great Google reviews. Google will conduct a reputation assessment before you can participate. If your Google reviews reveal serious complaints or repeated negative rankings, your business may suffer from lower rankings in the program or it may not show at all.

If invited, you will also need to pass a background check. Background checks are provided by Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, Inc.

They check:

  • your social security number
  • any criminal history
  • your company or companies re: trade licenses, insurance, and any civil litigation history.

Furthermore, Google will check:

  • that you hold relevant licenses, whether issued by the state, city, or county.
  • that you are insured.

Locksmith, garage door, towing, and auto glass businesses should expect to undergo Google’s advanced verification screening to help ensure that these businesses and their employees are safe and reputable.

Google cover the costs of all this. All they ask is that you agree to their terms every three months, attesting that you haven’t changed your workforce who enter people’s homes since the last check, and that you haven’t changed anything that would affect the background check approval.

Once in the program, reviews and star rankings are specific to Google Home Services. If you leave the program, your business will lose those reviews and rankings.

How the Google Guarantee May Affect Your Business

While the great thing about the guarantee is that it removes resistance from potential customers, the implication of a guarantee offered by Google on your behalf is worth thinking about it.

If Google has to refund one of your clients, you can expect that Google will take that as a serious, negative review. You can expect, therefore, that your business will suffer in the rankings as a result. If Google has to intervene to make things right with your client, this is likely to go against you in regards to your reputation, the happiness of your customers, and your rankings.

Although Google offers the guarantee , there is an implicit incentive to individual firms to underwrite it.

So, should you join Google Home Services if invited? We think yes, with caution.

Google is a powerhouse in local search. Google Home Services could put your business at the top of the Google rankings, with Google’s backing. It’s a powerful and potentially profitable situation to be in.

The Google guarantee is not a deal-breaker, but it is remembering the likely consequences of having Google step in.

And it’s also worth considering how a consumer will choose between apparently equally-performing companies when Google vouches for everyone on a page. The answer may be who can offer their services the cheapest. In the long-term, this is not good for business. Nor for the market.

Whether you are in the program or not, you will need to do all you can to attract local customers. Many local customers will be like moths to Google’s incandescent light bulb. This may not always go in your favor.

In or out of the program, developing a range of marketing strategies has never been more important. If you can develop the ways in which you reach out to potential customers and how you differentiate your offering, you will be protecting your bottom line in the long-term.

No Time Like the Present

In many markets, Google Local Services has been running for some time.  You can expect it to be in every market by next year, including Kansas City.  If you need help with optimizing your AdWords ROI or getting ready for Google Local Services, give us a call today.

eReleases Reviews – Press Release Distribution: Exceptional. Creative. Inspiring.

Searching for reviews about eRelease?

Although this article is highly favorable about eReleases, it’s less about providing a positive review, and more about highlighting things the company does really well and how we may be able to learn and apply some of these things to my / our own businesses. Continue reading “eReleases Reviews – Press Release Distribution: Exceptional. Creative. Inspiring.”

How To Advertise On Top Websites For Pennies On The Dollar

If you are a business owner and you’ve tried to buy online advertising from a big media website in your market, you already know that banner advertising rates for these sites be substantial.

I recently downloaded an online advertising rate card from a top online media website and found that it would cost thousands of dollars just to run a few days worth of banner ads.  Many of our clients have been approached by TV stations and advertising agencies for display advertising services and these fees a marked up to the stratosphere.

Luckily I found a way to bypass the agency tiers a get exposure on sites like CNN.com, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Business Journal, USA Today, and many other top tier media sites.  I am talking about the front page (and article pages) – and for pennies on the dollar! Continue reading “How To Advertise On Top Websites For Pennies On The Dollar”

Dated Websites: The Dark Side Of Referral Marketing

So you say that you get most of your business from referrals. That may be true.

But the real question is: Are you getting all of your referral business?

These days, businesses and consumers will not make a major purchase from your company solely from a word-of-mouth referral without “looking you up online first.” Continue reading “Dated Websites: The Dark Side Of Referral Marketing”

How Traditional Marketing Helps SEO

 

Google and search engine optimization are unavoidable for businesses today.

Companies that do not have an SEO strategy are losing market share by the day.

That being said, no company should ever put all of its marketing eggs in the Google basket. Just like any personal investment, a diversified approach to marketing will ensure that you have several lead flow channels as your Google rankings ebb and flow.

While conventional wisdom is that Google and the other search engines only track online activity, is this really true? Its turns out that many forms of traditional marketing filter back through the Internet and companies like Google are trying to measure and assess this activity, and find ways to incorporate all forms of marketing and branding signals into their ranking formula.

If you position your website as the hub of all of your marketing efforts, you can extract SEO value in some unexpected places. Continue reading “How Traditional Marketing Helps SEO”

Why Freelance Writers Like Writing for Small Businesses

As an SEO and Internet marketing company here in Kansas City, we struggle sometimes getting our clients to create blog content on a regular business.  They know how important blogging is for SEO, but writing content can challenging for a business owner.  Many do not have the time, and some people do not like to write.  Yet as a search engine marketing company, we MUST get quality content onto our clients blogs on a regular basis. Continue reading “Why Freelance Writers Like Writing for Small Businesses”

B2B Email Marketing Method for SEO Companies

email marketing

 

Background: We (Kansas City Web Design) do virtually no direct marketing.  Absolutely no telemarketing.  No offline marketing or advertising. We sent out a flyer ONCE last year because we have a printer client and they convinced us to try.  We picked up one new great client from that mail-out, but not enough of an ROI to do again.  Here are the three way we get new clients: Continue reading “B2B Email Marketing Method for SEO Companies”

Kansas City Yellow Pages – Are You Serious?

yellow pages seoThis is meant to be a review for people that use or are considering using Kansas City Yellow Pages, or any other similar print phone directory service that offers similar paid print advertising service in Kansas City.

We often get clients or prospective clients asking us about phone directory advertising – as in should they continue or consider doing it. It still blows us away that business still pay for print advertising in place like the Yellow Pages. Continue reading “Kansas City Yellow Pages – Are You Serious?”