Big Changes for Local Marketing in Minneapolis
Google has rolled out their Local Marketing program in the Minneapolis market and it’s very possible that it will change the local marketing game in a big way for a variety of service based businesses. According to Google, businesses such as locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, carpet cleaners, house cleaners, and garage door services are the business types officially covered by this program at this time. However, there’s a good chance that the types of businesses impacted by this program will expand.
Google Local Services is a major departure from what you are accustomed to from Google. This is because Google is stepping into the role of lead generator and is selling “ready to buy” leads directly to businesses at a market rate.
Results from a search for a service included in the program will appear above everything else. Google Local Services listings, presently, are showing above search ads, google maps listings and well above any organic search results.
Google Local Services first appeared in 2015 under the name Google Home Services and was tested for an extended period of time in California markets before being rolled out to major markets across the US. While there does not seem to be any official announcement, it appears that the program was introduced to the the Minneapolis market in May of 2018. Since 2015, the program has gone through a number of changes. The most notable is that the name changed from Google Home Services to Google Local Services, which reflects the expansion of the scope and types of businesses that could be included in this program.
What Makes this Program Unique?
There are actually several things that make this a unique and dramatic move for Google. First and foremost is that Google is putting priority placement of the Google Local Services program listing above paid and organic search results and Google Maps listings. Considering the types of businesses involved, it’s understandable that map results would be given a lower priority. After all, I’ve not seen any cases where someone took their broken toilet to the plumber’s offices for repair, so location information is not highly relevant to the searcher. However, business proximity does factor into the ranking of the businesses shown in the Local Services results. But what about reviews shown in Google Maps you may ask? That’s a great question and Google still puts value on Google reviews and does display them in the Local Services listings by pulling reviews from Google My Business (GMB) profiles and displaying them in the expanded listings in the Local Services
You may have also noticed the green check and “Google Guaranteed” notation on listings. To fully participate in the Local Services program, businesses must pass Google’s screening and qualification process for their business category. This screening process varies by category but may include license, insurance, and background checks. Once a business has passed all the required checks and has been accepted into the program, Google can actually provide the customer a guarantee backed by Google itself up to a maximum claim of $2000 in the US (£2,000 in the UK).
These are some pretty significant factors that should convince any local services type of business that there’s no real choice in deciding whether to participate in the program or not. I cannot think of any reason that a business owner would opt to go it on their own and compete against Google for leads. But there’s more that you should consider. But first, we need to look at some of the changes that have been going on at Google since 2014. Now, I cannot give you any specific data points to support my observations. I’m only pulling from many years of experience to connect the dots.
- In 2014, Google released it’s Hummingbird update. One of the most significant changes that Google has made since it’s inception. Hummingbird introduced the concept of semantic search, which was Google attempting to “understand” content on the internet and not just index content based on keywords.
- More recently, we’ve begun to see the fruits of this effort as Google is making a transition from a Search Engine to an Answer Engine and, in some cases and depending on the search being done, Google has begun providing an answer to the search query minus search results. In the case of local services, if someone is looking for a plumber or someone to fix their AC, Google is providing that directly, not search results that require a user to do research. Google has done the legwork for the user and conducted all the checks
- This is not just a matter of Google trying to be more efficient, although they’re certainly going in that direction. It’s also taking the rise of voice search into consideration. Going back to 2016, voice based search was already 20% of mobile searches. This is expected to grow to 50% by 2020. Which brings us to the last feature of Google Local Services listings. Yes, that’s right, they’re optimized for voice search and smart speakers.
Constant innovations in technology make marketing in a digital world a challenge because it’s in a constant state of change. But, as a digital consultancy, it’s our job to keep clients informed and educated about these changes. There’s no doubt that there are many companies that can do things. It’s not our objective or purpose to do “things”. It’s our purpose to provide you with the knowledge, insights and strategies to help you understand what makes the most sense for your business.
We’ll be holding a special workshop for Google Local Services on September 10 at our Minnetonka office. This workshop will be limited to 25 attendees. You can register and purchase your ticket by Clicking Here.