Google Home Service Ads Are Here To Stay
The times they are a changing! Without any notice or warning, Google is implementing their Home Service ads through multiple areas and it appears that it will be covered everywhere by the end of the year. Though we have seen many bugs, limited documentation, and issues, this may be where the Local Pack goes to die.
Unlike other Google tools and features, Google isn’t announcing where they plan on rolling the Google Home Service ads out. Currently, there isn’t even an updated help article. Google’s signup page is also inaccurate, as it only lists cities in California, even though they rolled out to Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix and Seattle over a month ago.
So far we are aware of the following cities/areas having Google Home Service ads:
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Phoenix Area
- Seattle Area
- Tacoma Area
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- Northern New Jersey (though Google currently has not announced it, we do see it appearing in certain towns in Northern New Jersey)
Also we are aware that by the end of the year, the following cities/areas will be added:
- Boston, MA
- Dallas, TX
- Detroit, MI
- Inland Empire Area in CA
- Baltimore, MD
- Charlotte, NC
- Cincinnati, OH
- Denver, CO
- Las Vegas, NV
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
- Orlando, FL
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Portland, OR
- San Antonio, TX
- St. Louis, MO
- Tampa-St Petersburg (Sarasota), FL
So what does that mean to the local contractor? So far we are aware that the following industries are affected:
- Cleaning Company
- Garage Door Pro
- HVAC contractors
- Roadside assistance service
- Auto glass service
But we have also noticed that if they are in a specific area already they are affecting all industries when it comes to your local places listing. Also for some reason at this point, if you are listed as a remodeling contractor, the home service ads are not appearing. This may soon change, so all Footbridge Media clients need to be aware.
You Work From Home or You Have Your Address Hidden
Within your Google Places Listing, if you have your address hidden because you work from home, this will have to change ASAP. It appears that when Google’s Home Service Ads are introduced into a market that all service businesses are removed from the local-three-pack. Specifically, those that have an address hidden, use a virtual office or P.O. Box or a home office.
What appears to be happening is that Google is monetizing the local-three-pack by converting anyone who appears there to only display the Google Guaranteed as well as people using their new lead service.
If you currently have your address hidden, then you need to change this ASAP by logging into your Google My Businesses Listing. Though Google currently states that this is a bug, we are unsure of when it will be fixed.
Making Your Home A Storefront.
According to Google’s guidelines, here is what you would need to do to be eligible to show your address (aka be a “storefront”) on your Google My Business listing:
- The location must be staffed (your staff, not someone else’s) during office hours.
- The location must have permanent, onsite signage that is viewable from the street.
As mentioned in the Google forum as well as a Search Engine Land article there are ways to get around this:
“When I contacted Google and explained my situation, they told me it was fine to display my address as long as there was signage outside which there now is, I also am now fully equipped to cut keys out of my location and uploaded pictures of my workshop and signage. Between my son or wife or myself there is always someone here. I don’t see how any guidelines are being broken as I serve people out both my location and their location. Just yesterday I cut mailbox keys for a client that stopped by here along with a few other random customers who have stopped by here in recent days to get safety deposit boxes opened and miscellaneous projects. I am here, I am real and staffed.”
This may be a temporary solution with Google, and as easy as putting one of your Yard Signs out in front of your house. If you’re worried about showing your home address for privacy reasons, the only option would be to open up a physical office or pay for Google Home Service Ads or start using PPC forever.
Get Google Guaranteed Today
If Google Home Service Ads are already in your area, I would strongly suggest that you go through the process of getting “Google Guaranteed” regardless if you plan on using their Adwords lead service. This will help with your local places listing, plus display you within the Home Service Ads:
The cost of becoming Google Guaranteed is up in the air based on the background checks and what Google states. For example, they claim there is no cost in their Help section here. But in a Google answer section, they claim, “You must fully cover all costs associated with background checks (unless Google works out an alternative arrangement with you).” Which leads me to believe if you are willing to utilize the Google Home Service Ads as a lead service then they will most likely waive this for you.
Ready To Sign Up for Home Service Ads & Get Google Guaranteed?
The first thing you need to do is complete Google’s online request form to show that your company is interested in their Home Service Ads. If Google is going to launch Home Service Ads in your area, they then will allow you to go through their process which includes:
- Background Checks: Your contracting business will need to submit to background checks by a third-party security and risk-management firm.
- License Checks: As a contractor, you are legally required to hold certain professional licenses according to your jurisdiction. So these will need to be provided to Google.
- Insurance Checks: Your company must carry appropriate insurance for all work carried out.
- Testimonial & Review Assessment: Google will also monitor and evaluate your online reputation. So if you currently do not have reviews or bad reviews, this may be good time to invest in a reputation management system.