Google Home Services Ads For Locksmiths, Plumbers Hit San Francisco Market

Ginny Marvin on
  • Categories: Channel: SEM, Google, Google: AdWords
  • Google’s anticipated program to promote local service providers in search ads is coming out of the woodwork. The company has confirmed a beta test for the program just launched in the San Francisco market.

    Buzzfeed first reported the home services solution was in the works in April. Taking on the likes of Yelp, Angie’s List and Amazon Home Services, Google’s home services ads promote pre-qualified home service professionals and enable users to submit requests to the providers straight from the search ads.

    Pete Meyers of Moz tweeted a screenshot of the test on Wednesday.

    I am seeing the ads on some searches for “San Francisco plumber” and “San Francisco locksmith,” the two services included in the beta.

    For comparison, below is a typical desktop search results page for “San Francisco plumber.” Local Google My Business listings, which are free for businesses, are located at the bottom of the screenshot in this case, and a Google Maps link to the business locations is in the upper right. Text ads appear at the top of the page and along the right column. Notice the organic results are dominated by Yelp.

    A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “We’re testing a new experience for local searches in the San Francisco Bay Area. We regularly test different options to deliver better results in search.”

    Here’s a look at the beta Home Services Ads experience for users.

    Ads Feature Three Home Service Professionals

    Three listings for professional service providers appear in the Home Services Ads block when Google thinks a user is trying to find a service professional based on the search query.

    The ads include a photo of the professional, their location and phone number, along with any ratings and what look like callout ad extensions that detail qualifications and service qualities and offers such as 24/7 services and free estimates. Users can click the profiles for more details — more on that below. Earlier this month, Recode reported that Google hired a team of former Homejoy engineers to build the search matching technology for the service.

    How Is Google Qualifying Providers?

    User trust that these providers are safe and reliable is going to be a pivotal factor in whether this beta takes off. Clicking the drop-down icon on the Home Services ad box brings up an explainer stating that to be eligible for inclusion in the listing ads, the professionals must pass a background check, be licensed and insured and have a strong track record.

    What constitutes a “strong track record?”

    The “Learn more” link in that drop-down goes to a support page detailing how businesses qualify for business services ads. Google says it conducts a “reputation assessment” on all providers, including reviews from users who’ve found and used them through the ads and mystery shoppers:

    “We collect ratings and reviews from people who hired home service professionals through our home service ads, and use mystery shoppers — customers who communicate and hire professionals on our behalf without mentioning any affiliation with Google — to help us learn more about the customer experience.”

    The background checks also include cross-checks against national sex offender, terrorist and sanctions registries.

    Select Up To Three Professionals For Responses

    If you’re comfortable with that vetting process, the next step is to find a provider — or three — that might suit your needs.

    Here are two ways to do it:

    1. Click to view an individual profile featured in the ad block like the one below and contact them directly, or click the Send request button.

    2. Click the “More [locksmiths or plumbers] to view or contact” link at the bottom of the ad.

    This is where the real power of this new service lies for users looking to get multiple quotes. From here, you can view a slew of profiles to learn more about each service provider listed. Then you can narrow down your choices to up to three providers to request a follow-up after entering your contact info and details about the job you’re looking to have done.

    The process is similar to Google Compare, which allows users to request quotes from credit card, auto insurance and home mortgage vendors right from ads in the search results in the US and UK.

    Once you submit the request, Google sends it to each professional, and Google’s role in the referral process ends until a job is completed. Unless:

    Once a job is finished, Google will email you a ratings and review request. (It’s not clear if the professionals submit a job completion notice to Google.) Professionals that get repeat negative reviews could get suspended or kicked out of the program entirely.

    At this time, we don’t know much about how the process works for advertisers in terms of the ad auction, managing the ads, and so on. Google is aiming to have more details on the program to share later this summer.

    Google’s entry into this market could have big implications for home services professionals and the other companies vying for their attention online. Locksmiths and plumbers are just the beginning. Yelp appears to stand to lose the most, just in terms of lost organic visibility on Google.

    About The Author

    Ginny Marvin
    As Third Door Media's paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.