‘Google Screened or Guaranteed’ Advertising – ‘Local Service Ads’
If you haven’t noticed yet, Google added a form of local advertising high atop its local search result pages. So there are ‘Pay Per Click Advertisements’ and then ‘Local Map Pack Listings‘ set over the traditionally sought-after organic search results and NOW Google has also squeezed ‘Local Services Ads’ up top of it all in a local search results page. While the rollout for such ads began in a ‘limited area test’ back in 2015 – this is now a local search result advertising opportunity nationally for businesses or professionals. The purpose, it appears, is to help Google monetize hyperlocal search activity.
It offers a listing advertisement with a status badge, the ‘Google Guaranteed’ badge for home service businesses, or the ‘Google Screened’ badge for professionals. It requires a stringent direct screening process, and some cost, and it appears to have a mixed review from those who have jumped in.
What Are ‘Local Service Ads’?
In an effort to monetize the local business connection with local people who search, Google has decided to use the uppermost area of their locally based search result pages for this advertising. These ads show up top when specific local service area searches are executed and just like the traditional PPC Advertisements, the cost is based upon a reaction and not just an eyeball. While ‘cost per reaction’ is not necessarily cheaper, the cost only occurs when a prospective customer calls or messages the advertiser direct through the ad/listing.
NOTE (for instance/per the images used) that while a local to Hillsdale NJ resident may search for a “Hillsdale Real Estate Agent” it does not mean that the ‘Local Service Ads’ area of their search result page will be limited to, nor even prioritize, local Hillsdale NJ RE agents. At least for now this area of the search results will include advertisers from various areas – demonstrated below with ads showing from folks not based in or necessarily near the specified search request of a “Real Estate Agent in Hillsdale NJ”. So it looks like an opportunity but it remains to be seen whether or not the Ads will be effective with highly qualified local searching prospects.
‘Local Service Ad’ Badges – Enhanced Advertiser Signal
1. ‘Google Screened’
‘Local Service Ads’ offer an opportunity to earn & present a status badge, including either ‘Google Screened’ or ‘Google Guarantee’. These badges, in theory, offer local searchers a credibility or confidence signal along with the advertisement.
While the ‘Local Service Ad’ or listing, may show a ‘Google Screened’ icon it is only available to Google Screened advertisers. The advertiser must pass extensive background and/or license checks to have the badge. This free screening process verifies that necessary information and/or licenses are, in fact, current.
2. ‘Google Guarantee’
The ‘Google Guarantee’ also offers the advertiser an opportunity to earn & to present a status badge. Like with ‘Google Screened’ the ‘Google Guarantee’ business owner or professional must pass a strict verification process.
If the business owner or professional is backed by a ‘Google Guarantee’ status, its’ customer (that came via this Local Service Ad) may be insured for a level of quality. At its sole discretion, it means that Google may guarantee a level of quality OR reimburse the customer up to a certain amount paid.
It appears that new Local Service Ads are an evolving area of advertising in Google search results. Currently, they are only available to certain service categories. As mentioned above the ‘Google Guaranteed’ or ‘Google Screened’ badges require a direct with Google stringent screening process, some cost, and it appears to have a mixed review from those who have jumped in.