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Google’s advanced verification test in San Diego just dropped over 89% of listings from the 3-pack
Columnist and local search expert Joy Hawkins shows the results of a recent Google My Business advanced verification test and explores the new home services local pack.
I have just managed to find my first live example of the next step for the advanced verification beta test for locksmiths and plumbers in San Diego.
We knew that these businesses had to pass advanced verification before November 10 or Google was going to be removing their listings. So now that we are past that date, what happened?
As you can see, the search results (which only a very small percentage of users are seeing at the moment) show two different types of “3-packs.”
The home service 3-pack
The first local pack in the search results has a “Sponsored” message on it that says these listings are a part of Google’s Home Service section and links to this article. When I click “More plumbers” on that 3-pack, I get two different types of listings.
The top listings appear to be paid, each sporting a “Send Request” button and a “Google guaranteed” badge beside it. The Help Center, however, does not really clarify if these features are paid.
At first it seems that this is like the home service ads group, similar to what we’ve been seeing in the Bay Area. What’s not 100 percent clear is if you have to pay to be in this list, or if paying just gets you some type of advantage in the list.
When you scroll down in the list, the bottom listings look more like organic listings (They are missing the “Google guaranteed” badge and “Send Request” button). However, they appear to be using tracking phone numbers, which makes me think maybe they could have some type of paid component.
Also, when searching the names of a lot of businesses in this list, I found that many were not in San Diego, but rather in the suburbs. This also makes me think that these listings are paid.
Ideal Plumbing Heating Air Electrical is the only one I could find on both this list and the regular 3-pack. They are in San Diego, and they have a storefront.
His client is paying for this via AdWords Express, and he was told by Google that you do need to utilize AdWords Express to be in this group and that the listings rotate based on a few factors, including reviews.
The organic 3-pack
As far as the second 3-pack (the purely organic one), only seven businesses made the cut. These are the businesses that passed Advanced Verification. Another thing I noticed is that literally every single one of them has a storefront. They all have driving direction request buttons as well.
In case you’re wondering how many were there before, on November 9, there were about eight pages of results, each page containing 20 listings. The screen shots I was tracking only checked the first three pages of results, so I know there were at least 60 local listings, all using addresses in San Diego on November 9. The pages farther back could possibly have dipped into surrounding cities.
So it went from 60+ listings to seven (cutting out more than 89 percent). Any business that didn’t pass advanced verification (I’m sure a lot of spam) or didn’t have a storefront is no longer in this list. Here is a screen shot of who was there November 9. As you can see, only Powers Plumbing made the cut.
Something else I noticed that might terrify some people (or make them excited) is that the paid/home services pack is now showing as well for branded searches.
That means someone could be searching your business name — and beside your knowledge panel, there is a paid pack of your competitors! I’m waiting for CPCs to skyrocket now in San Diego.
Never a dull moment with SEM or SEO in the local space. If you have questions, please hit me up on Twitter at @joyannehawkins.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.