Back in August, Google began beta testing a new system of paid advertising in San Francisco for local service based businesses. The service, dubbed Google Home Service Ads, aims to compete with review aggregate companies like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Home Advisor. The new ad system is controlled through Adwords Express, and is only being tested in San Francisco for a select variety of service based companies including plumbers, locksmiths, handymen, and carpet cleaners. But, should the beta testing go well, we could potentially see it rolled out to other cities and business types in the future. San Francisco companies interested in participating can do so by applying here.
Here is a quick video showing how the new ads work:
Google Home Service Ads presents a number of opportunities and challenges for small business owners:
Benefits of Home Service Ads:
- The new pay-to-play model means established companies have better odds of showing at the top of search results if they have the budget to put towards the service.
- Since background checks are required for participating companies, reputable businesses gain an advantage over less reputable ones.
- Google automatically asks users who have used the service to leave a review for the company, which takes the burden of review generation off of business owners and their marketing teams.
Challenges Presented by Home Service Ads:
- The process of joining could be a bit complicated since 3rd party background checks are required and Google “vets out” participating companies.
- Pay-to-play local results could replace organic local results, which could harm companies with already established map pack rankings.
- Managing the listings may be time consuming, depending on how the backend and the bidding system works.
- Users can choose up to 3 participating companies to get bids from, meaning price margins may not be best on incoming leads, since shoppers may be shopping for the lowest price.
As with any major changes to Google, there will be winners and losers should this system roll out nation wide. It is unknown how well this program will scale, but should it expand nation wide it could have big impacts on service based companies like roofers, painters, electricians, AC repair companies, and others.
The new Home Service Ads will likely replace the local listings “3 pack” which signals the beginning of the end for free, organic local SEO. If this system becomes the norm for service based searches, it will be a challenging new era for local SEO, since local businesses will need to pay-to-play to get more real estate within Google search results. We will continue to monitor the beta testing of the Home Service Ads, and report any updates here — and as always we look forward to trying this new lead generation tactic for our clients should it move into other markets.
Interested in Local SEO? Read the guide to local SEO here: What are Local Citations?