Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Google Advanced Verification & Home Services Ads – An Update
Both are evolving from the model rolled out in San Diego which required all local listings to be advanced verified.
One big change is that only businesses that will advertise will be required to go through the advanced verification process that involves independent background checks.
The other is that service area business listings in markets where the test is now arriving, will be pulled from any 3-Pack display and only shown in the new HSA finder.
Here are notes of the meeting:
- The Advanced Verification pilot in San Diego and Los Angeles is changing for Google My Business service area merchants and expanding to new geos and categories for AdWords and AdWords Express customers.
- The Home Services pilot in San Diego and Los Angeles that includes both paying and non-paying service professionals is expanding to new categories and cities.
From Google’s point of view:
- Advanced verification helps reduce fraudulent listings on Google and ensures that local listings and local ads are relevant and legitimate.
- Home Services – tailored for service area businesses – makes it easy for consumers to discover, connect and hire local service professionals directly from Google, and connects local professionals with new customers when they need them the most.
Key takeaways from Tests of both programs:
- Independent verifications has been successful at identifying bad actors.
- Deeply managing advertising and targeting corresponding GMB listings is effective and scalable.
- Highest impact in locksmith and overhead doors, plumbing vertical has less risk (ATM). Actively testing auto glass repair and towing to determine its value.
- Google expects things may change over the coming months. As bad actors shift their behaviors, so will Google.
Here is the where and what of the City and category expansion tests:
- Locksmith and Plumber merchants signing up for Google My Business in San Diego and Los Angeles no longer need to complete Advanced Verification to be listed on Google.
- Based on their pilot results, Google can effectively address Map spam with less impact on merchants.
- Instead, Google is leveraging a behind the scenes approach to combat fraudulent businesses in these categories.
- AdWords and AdWords Express customers promoting auto glass repair, overhead door repair and towing services in the San Francisco Bay Area now need to pass advanced verification.
- In addition, all AdWords and AdWords Express customers promoting locksmith services across the whole of California need to pass advanced verification. It is expected this expansion will continue outside of California in the coming months.
Home Services expansion updates per city and category:
- New categories have been added to San Diego and Los Angeles:
- Los Angeles: HVAC, electricians, overhead door
- San Diego: HVAC, electricians, overhead door, towing, autoglass
- The pilot experience that includes both paying and non-paying service professionals is being extended to the San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Seattle:
- San Francisco Bay Area: Iocksmiths, plumbers, house cleaners, handyman, general contractors, electricians, HVAC, painters, overhead door, auto glass repair, towing
- Philadelphia: plumbers, HVAC, electricians, Iocksmiths
- Atlanta, Phoenix, Seattle: plumbers, HVAC, electricians, Iocksmiths, overhead door
- Pure service area businesses are been moved from the local search results (“B-pack”) to the Home Services unit in those cities.
Other recent articles that you should take a look at for a complete understanding of these changes:
Is Google Going to Remove the 3-Packs? What You Need to Know about Home Service Ads (HSAs) by Joy Hawkins at Whitespark
How Google Home Services can Affect You – by Dave Squires