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:
- 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.
- 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.