Google Local Services and Voice Search - A Powerful Combination

Google Local Services and Voice Search – A Powerful Combination
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan December 6, 2017

Two of the biggest "up-and-comers" for Google and marketing professionals have been 1) Google Local Services (recently rebranded from their original name "Google Home Service Ads") and 2) major improvements to additional opportunities for searching via voice. Now – those two big marketing news stories overlap. Very soon – when you're talking to your Google device, you'll be able to ask for a home improvement service and get results directly from Google Local Services.

The combination of Google Local Services and voice search is a big deal – and let's talk about why.

What Did Voice Search Look Like Before Google Local Services Voice Integration?

Previous to this new update which started to roll out in late November 2017, if you asked Google assistant for a plumber – the voice program would show you the Local Map Pack – the three plumbers closest to you with the best reviews and NAP.

What is Different Now for Google Local Service and Voice Search?

If the same search is done in an area with the update, Google will reply with a follow up question clarifying the exact type of service you're looking for. In the example provided by Google in their announcement, you're prompted to select from the most common service needs within that particular industry. For Plumbers, the list includes services for clogged drains, new faucets, and garbage disposal repair. Once your request is clarified and your service address is confirmed – You have the option to receive a call from a service provider or view a list of service providers via Google Local Services.

What Do These Changes Mean for My Marketing?

There are quite a few things to break down from this new development and sneak peek. You'll have the option to "receive a call from a service provider" which sounds great from the consumer side of things. This would clearly be used by people who has service industry based emergency – like a broken pipe or total power loss – where the end customer is less concerned about shopping and more concerned about getting a fast fix for their problems.

Google Local Services are expanding beyond "Google Guaranteed" badges. In the video demo provided by Google, "HomeAdvisor Screened" and "Porch Screened" are two alternate badges on the Google Local Services business "card" – which suggests to me that Google has partnered with these groups for two main reasons. It allows Google to A) rapidly expand the Local Services contractor pool by tapping into pre-existing HomeAdvisor and Porch customer base and B) eases the verification and background check process bottleneck that Google has to deal with to intake and re-evaluate "Google Guaranteed" clients on a regular basis.

It shows Google is taking another step away from the Local Map Pack and using rich snippeted and featured content – like Local Service Ads.

What Does All That Mean?

Some details about these new revelations aren't 100% clear yet... While we can rest assured that the "receive a call from a service provider" will somehow connect a service provider with a lead, we don't know how the selection process would work amongst all Local Service Providers. I would assume that company to user proximity would be a factor – and I also assume that the "Local Services ads by Google" phone app would be tied into the "receive a call" system.

The "HomeAdvisor Screened" and "Porch Screened" badges are also very interesting. Based on a press release issued by HomeAdvisor – Google Assistant's voice search will integrate with HomeAdvisor's Instant Connect technology and will display contractors who meet their "HomeAdvisor pre-screened professional" requirements. That sounds like, while the results from a voice search may feature Google Local Service clients, it may directly link to HomeAdvisor's booking service. I'd assume that Porch would then be a similar situation, but they do not appear to have distributed any press releases confirming as such.

Why would Google allow their competitors to share screen space? Firstly, I'd assume that this would be formal business relationships with a commission paid to Google even if a lead is booked through HomeAdvisor or Porch. Secondly, it avoids the appearance of a monopoly in search to allow their competition some access to the voice search results.

What Should I Do to Get Ready?

With the Local Services program constantly growing and changing – one recommendation has remained constant. If you work in an area with active Local Services – enroll and get Google Guaranteed. We don't see Google Local Service Ads going away at the moment – especially considering this further roll out and additional investment in the service.

Signing up for Local Services may mean an investment of your time, but if the program stays in place it would be well worth your effort to stay in front of as many customers as possible – even the ones talking to their phones and speakers.

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