Official Launch: Google Home Service Ads - Some Observations


Linda Buquet

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Many have written about the Home Service Ads test in San Francisco and we've talked about it here as well. But in case you missed it, they launched Friday, so it's out of Beta. Here's the official announcement:

<a href="http://googleandyourbusiness.blogspot.com/2015/08/introducing-adwords-express-home.html">Introducing AdWords Express home service ads for the San Francisco Bay Area</a>

I have a couple observations... 1st of all, when we discussed the 'other' new paid local ad unit, the "Businesses Nearby Ads" we noticed that ad 3 pack was above a regular local 3 pack of unpaid listings. BUT there was still a regular 3 pack on the page.

In the searches I did in the Frisco market, these 3 pack Home Service Ads are REPLACING the regular pack. There are no other local listings on the page, so your only choice is pay-to-play or try for pure organic.

Interestingly... Check the Adwords Express info page.:
<a href="http://www.google.com/adwords/express/home-service-ads/">Local Advertising | Google AdWords Express – Google</a>

Even though this page is all about the Home Services ads for handymen, house cleaners, locksmiths, and plumbers... Look at the page title. It's not "Home Service Ads" - it's "Local Advertising".

Paving the way for pay-to-play in other local markets that aren't home services and eventually all local markets I believe. (Pure wild speculation...)

What do you think???
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cdawg2610

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I've mentioned it before, but I'm going to be really curious to see the quality of the lead coming in the Home Services vs the cost of the lead. A few years ago, they tested the auto version of this, and the leads were expensive, and not a good quality for the price Google was charging.
 

Dave

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I would state that when it comes to local google is no longer a search engine. Its an advertising media.

Its good for google.
 

Linda Buquet

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Haha Dave. Hope you don't mind me saying it, but you are usually verbose like me.

So when you have a short statement like that it gets my attention. :)
Well said and I agree!
 
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Correct about Google transitioning to an advertisement platform wondering if they will ever allow video from business owners have placement after pay to play?
 

Mark Kennedy

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And not only is this replacing the normal 3-pack in some searches, but it's pushing the regular paid ads over to the side bar. So for Google to make a move like that, the revenue has to be higher from this program than the actual PPC revenues for these local searches. Which is surprising because some of these verticals have high CPC's
 

Dave

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I can say one thing. If I was an agency handling plumbers or other affected home service providers in cities OTHER than the one's wherein the paid deal has replaced the local pack I'd start taking screen shots of existing serps and existing listings and I'd buy into services such as those that provide wide coverage of citations and of those services that provide wide coverage of links and other "so called impacts" on organic rankings.

Visually there is NO local. Whether the sites that have coverage on organic phrases are impacted by LOCAL or not on a wealth of phrases is tough to call. I'd study it like crazy in order to provide services.
 

RMSNJ

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The entire first page of Google, for local results, will eventually be a pay to play. Page two is where organic will be the play. Much like when you listen to the radio or watch tv, you can change the station, I do think the public will eventually just go to page 2. I say this for search results only.

Just a guess.
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks for your comments and insights everyone.

There is a Twitter convo going too.

As I just said there it's not so easy for just anyone to sign up. There are barriers to entry. All employees must pass Pinkerton security screening. Which I assume there is a cost for, plus time investment. So not point. click. ad.
 

JoshuaMackens

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This move for local seems to be completely counter intuitive and inconsistent with Google's overall policy of search quality over pure revenue generation.

It seems like maybe the local department is working completely independent of search quality. This is, honestly...just weird.
 

regl8r

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This move for local seems to be completely counter intuitive and inconsistent with Google's overall policy of search quality over pure revenue generation.

It seems like maybe the local department is working completely independent of search quality. This is, honestly...just weird.
How do you figure? If they actually follow through with criminal background checks, qualifications, insurance, etc like they are planning on, it will eliminate or at least greatly reduce spammers across the board. Also if you have to pay to play, there won't be inactive businesses or as many people who don't pick up the phone. In case you haven't gone down a search calling companies, there are ALOT of these people. What does that mean? A higher quality search result overall.
 

JoshuaMackens

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How do you figure? If they actually follow through with criminal background checks, qualifications, insurance, etc like they are planning on, it will eliminate or at least greatly reduce spammers across the board. Also if you have to pay to play, there won't be inactive businesses or as many people who don't pick up the phone. In case you haven't gone down a search calling companies, there are ALOT of these people. What does that mean? A higher quality search result overall.
As a spam filter, it may be a good thing. As quality search results go, it's whoever can pay the most (after passing the background checks) that will get a shot at business, not whoever can provide the best service.

I'm all for background checks and qualifications. Do them as verification for a GMB page in the first place. Sounds good to me. The problem is when you have 30+ businesses that pass, who gets the real estate? The company who pays the most, not the best company. And to me, that's a poor search result.

If Google truly wants quality search results, I would think they would put more of an emphasis on review aggregation across the internet and review spam filtering. If anyone could do an amazing job of that, it's Google. But I don't feel like they're incredibly interested in that for local. Which makes sense in a way. Offline local quality is hard to judge online.

As an aside, I wouldn't think there is an issue with the top 10 businesses in a SERP picking up the phone. Normally they're paying for SEO so they make answering a phone call a point of emphasis. But I haven't checked on that thoroughly enough to back it up. Even if they don't, that's not an indication of the quality of the service they provide. Some of the most reasonably priced plumbers out there with amazing service are the ones who can't pick up their phone because they're unclogging a toilet. They'll have to call you back.
 
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Like Josh said, these are ads not natural search results. We'll have to see what how this expands to see what kinds of "quality score" elements the ads have. I'd like the review idea... if they could aggregate reviews to use that score as a way to determine who gets which spot, that would be better for the user. Unfortunately reviews could be gamed, so it's going to be a battle to regulate.
 

heckler

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Has anyone touched on how terrible pay-for-lead services are historically?

Does anyone remember everycontractor.com (blue-collar guys do, 'every contractor dot com' is fightin' words).

Anyone have experience with a service like ServiceMagic / HomeAdvisor or old-school Yext?

I can tell you that these type of services really anger a lot of honest business people (especially the older crowd who don't/can't jump on emails). Maybe this is Google's attempt to ensure people get qualified people and SMBs don't pluck their own eyes out (3 options vs 5-10 guys fighting for jobs; showing up to quote a project and waiting behind 3-4 other guys doing the same <- bad searcher experience, bad SMB experience).

I certainly understand the concerns, but this may (overall) be a better experience for the searchers and the searched.

My .02,
 

regl8r

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I understand what you guys are saying but I don't think it is going to be pay and get to the top like some may think. My guess is it is going to be a flat fee for a lead in each niche and there is an algorithm within the list of businesses to determine who shows up first and here is why...

When you click on see more plumbers you get the whole list and are suppose to pick 3 you want a quote from. I just can't see the guy at the top paying $5 when a guy at the bottom selected pays $2 for that same lead.

Google invested in thumbtack and this model is almost exactly like thumbtack. If I had to guess I'd say the algorithm is going to go off a combination of reviews, optimized/filled out profile, and response factors.

Also the waiting for a call back or not answering emails immediately is unacceptable in this day in age. People want something instantly and if you can't provide it they are going to find someone else. These older people can be frustrated that is how it is but if they don't adapt their business will suffer.
 

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