In July of 2015, Google rolled out a test in the Bay Area of their Home Service Ad that used “extreme vetting” of local plumbers & locksmiths. In October & November of 2016 they started testing a less extreme Advanced Verification and a purge of the local listings for any plumber or locksmith that didn’t have a storefront or meet their increased scrutiny as a local service area business. With this they rolled out additional front page map based pack like local ad units and/or started selling pack visibility.
Google’s tests in San Diego initially dropped just less than 90% of the locksmith listings from the local database and Maps. While some of those dropped have made their way back into Google Maps, the number of listings in that market declined significantly. As part of the move to Advanced Verification, Google has rolled out a number of new test ad units based on this verification.
According to Google the test of Advanced Verification in Los Angeles has started this week and by end of the month any locksmith or plumber not meeting the criteria will be purged from Google Local.
Like in San Diego ad shown above the HSA will be a “blended unit” and will include both advertisers who passed verification and that pay as well as those that passed but did not pay. Those paying will receive “additional benefits” like the Google guarantee.
Also like in the San Diego test and the ad shown above, service area businesses will be removed from the 3-pack and only businesses with a storefront will be shown in the Local Pack. Bricks and mortar locksmiths & plumbers are eligible to purchase an ad in the HSA unit and can thus be shown twice.
Apparently the verification process being used in Los Angeles will be easier. Some locksmiths and plumbers were “pre-verified” based on available information and no action was required on their part. The application for those not pre-verified has also been shortened.
By mid February the Home Service Ad unit will launch in LA and on Feb 27th listings that have not advanced verified will start to be removed.Google Expanding Advanced Verification & HSA to Los Angeles by Mike Blumenthal