Home Service Ads Alert – Read this Post

As Google’s Home Service Ads rolls out to more verticals and more markets1, more and more service area businesses are going to feel the impact. While some of the details are changing it appears that Google is charging forward with Home Service Ads2. The impacts go beyond those covered by in this great article: How Google Home Services can Affect You – by Dave Squires.

You need to read this post in the forum: Service area businesses no longer ranking?

Items to note.

  •  It appears that when HSA is introduced to a market, that all service area businesses in the affected verticals are removed from the 3- Pack display.
  •  If they pay for HSA and Advanced verification they can move to the top of the new Ad unit and show “Google guaranteed” notation.
  • If they don’t, they are shown way down the new Ad unit’s equivalent of the Local Finder. Perhaps we can refer to this display as the “HSA Finder” although it might be better named Local SAB Hider or perhaps the “SAB Loser”.
  • Many of the affected SABs are marching forward with getting an office, either real or imagined, to deal with their predicament. An interesting example of how Google pushing in one direction creates unintended (but predictable) consequences mucking up index quality. They just got the SAB stuff squared away.
The new HSA Finder places non paying SABs at the bottom of the list at least a click and a scroll away from any visibility. More like HSA loser.

1 – The verticals have been expanded from locksmiths and plumbers to include HVAC, electricians, garage door, roadside assistance, auto glass, painting, handyman, home cleaning and even appliance repair categories. And now includes the Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Stockton,  San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta markets (and perhaps more).

2 – I know that a lot of folks speculate that HSA type pay to play will reach all categories. While I do see Google increasing Ad inventory & exposure across the whole of the local ecosystem I see the HSA as a unique response to categories that had both high spam in their listings and in their local Adwords campaigns. The problem was so egregious that Google is going to the length of Pinkerton background checks on employees of businesses in the program. That has to be expensive. And it is an indicator of the level of problems in these categories. Imagine the press and lawsuits when one of these spammers killed or robbed someone? It was a mess and Google chose to offset their costs with an pay to play approach much like in Shopping ads. 

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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13 thoughts on “Home Service Ads Alert – Read this Post”

  1. Hey Mike,
    The anecdotes on the G forum thread of people proving that Home Depot is not an appropriate solution for garage door repair or locksmithing are head-smackers.

    But, I feel like I’m missing something here. I’m searching for plumbers in the appropriate cities around CA (Sacramento, San Diego, etc.) and I am getting both an HSA pack and a traditional 3-pack. Is what you’re saying here that the plumbers I’m seeing in the 3-pack are all part of the HSA program, or they wouldn’t be in the 3-pack?

  2. @miriam

    3-pack= bricks & mortar
    HSA= service area business with rank of top placing businesses based on pay to play

  3. So, to recap, when the HSA pack is shown, the accompanying 3-pack is made up only of those businesses which have a physical address? Am I getting that right?

  4. @Miram
    Yes you have that correct.

    And the SAB will only show in the “HSA Pack” at the bottom of the page and without the guarantee if they haven’t paid for the HSA.

  5. I recently had a great ranking garage door company drop out of the GMB ranking for no apparent reason. We were the only company that was correctly hiding the street address. Within 1 minute and showing the street address our ranking positions restored. Stupid stuff.

  6. Mike, Last week we saw it happen to one of our clients, the only difference was that they had been marked to show their business address before the Home Service roll-out in their area. When we investigated why they disappeared from the 3-pack we found the “do not show address” had changed and was now checked. They appeared instantly when we unchecked it. We also saw Google change the GMB listing of another SAB client to having no service area–even though you can’t create a SAB in GMB without entering a service area for the business. At present, I wouldn’t necessarily assume that what you last showed in your GMB account is exactly as you left it. As far as Google apparently losing every SAB from the 3-pack that doesn’t list a brick and mortar address, I hope it is just a glitch in their system, but he paranoid me thinks that removing a home-based SAB’s ability to get great free search placement is a great way to herd such low overhead businesses into advertising with their new Home Services platform–but then again that’s just the paranoid part of me. Remember, this is the company that brought us the “don’t be evil” mission statement.

    1. @David
      Google thinks “they know” about your business and as you note, will not hesitate to change it to their “understanding”.

  7. Mike, this is an awesome post and tremendously helpful. Have you heard anything from Google on whether or not this is something they plan to continue doing or changing?

    Also, we have had customers contacted for Google HSA in the following areas, in addition to what you mentioned: Phoenix, Chicago, NY Metro, DC Metro & Seattle. Phoenix and Seattle have started – Chicago, NY and DC are slotted to begin in September supposedly.

  8. @Ashley
    Thanks for the update on the locations. Very useful.

    As to your other question, I am under NDA and am unable to respond to your question directly.

    But I can say that they are still changing and refining the program. Obviously the role of Advanced Verification, HSA, Pack issues are all on the table.

  9. I’ve got a physical address, so maybe this doesn’t affect me as much as I was afraid it did. And we do pay for AdWords, if that makes a difference. But what scares me is the Google Guarantee thing.

    Over the past year, we’ve had at least 3 or 4 people hire us for jobs (plumbing work, several of them quite expensive) and then, after the work was done, specifically say to us “Ok, now you’re going to give me a BIG discount off the agreed price, or I’m going to trash your reputation online!” They’re not stupid enough to put that threat in writing, of course.

    So, assuming this rolls out soon in my area, how does Google plan on dealing with this type of issue? Are they going to do ANY investigation, or are they just automatically going to be siding with the complaining customer? I see a REALLY big potential for blackmail here, and it scares me.

    Note that there was NO problem with any of these jobs, the customers just decided that they could renegotiate the price after the job was done. Well, one guy demanded that we put in piping that was against local code, and got angry and slammed us online when we refused. I guess he could claim that he had a problem with our work. And I found out after the fact that the latest problem customer is notorious for doing this to everybody she hires, it wasn’t just us.

    So, we’re still trying to figure out how to deal with this type of situation. Sometimes we’ll give a small discount, some people we tell to “Get stuffed!” and turn them over to collection. But if Google gets involved, and automatically takes their side…?

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