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December 12, 2016

Why You Won’t Recognize Google Local Listings in a Year: Home Services Ads Explained by Bruce Clay

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Imagine a search engine results page with four paid ads at the top and three more sponsored local listings in the Local Pack.

That’s seven ads at the top of every page.

That’s where we’re headed with Google Home Service Ads.

home service ads

Google Home Service Ads are Expanding

Google Home Service Ads are sponsored listings in the Google Local Pack. Here’s what they look like:

What Are Google Home Service Ads?

Google Home Service Ads beta-launched on July 30, 2015.

The invite-only program enabled plumbers and locksmiths in California’s Bay Area to become Google Guaranteed Service Providers and appear atop the newly “Sponsored” Local Pack.

Since then, the pilot program has expanded to San Diego and Sacramento and is now open to handymen, electricians and house cleaners, as well.

The program is slated to soon expand to Los Angeles.

Along with expanded locales, Home Service Ads expanded to mobile search results. As of Nov. 21, Google Home Service Ads can now show up on mobile search engine results pages, complete with service area maps.

Although Google Home Services Ads are still in beta, and you’ll only find them if you’re searching for locksmiths and plumbers in the Bay Area, Sacramento and San Diego, Google Home Service Ads are here and brands and businesses need to be aware.

Google Home Service Ads are only going to keep expanding.

If Sponsored Listings Aren’t Available for My Industry Do I Still Need to Pay Attention?

If you’re not a locksmith, plumber, house cleaner, handyman or electrician in the Bay Area, Sacramento or San Diego, do you need to be paying attention? Absolutely.

Paid inclusion is a reality and it’s only a matter of time before it rolls out to all local businesses. Google is in the business of making money. Therefore, it’s in Google’s best interest to monetize local listings across industries, nationwide.

Why Is Google Monetizing Local Listings?

If paying a “lead fee” to be ranked at the top of local listings, even with an ad designation, is not paid inclusion, then what is?

You pay — and you jump above the others.

Do not be fooled. This is a revenue opportunity for Google and it is expected to spread quickly.

As with PPC ads, you’ll get more keyword data using Google’s Home Service Ads.

The way things are headed, business owners will have no choice but to buy Home Service Ads.

Listen to this: SEO Jim Froling shared an eye-opening story in a thread on Local Search Forum about Home Service Ads.

One of Froling’s clients, a locksmith in Oceanside, California, was contacted by Google. The Google representative told the client that “his Google My Business listing was going away and that he would have no local visibility unless he signed on with Home Service Ads.”

Paid inclusion (aka Home Service Ads) will become the only chance local business have to appear in Local Packs.

How Long Until Google Home Services Roll Out to My Industry?

How soon before paid inclusion is a reality across all industries? Perhaps sooner than you’d think.  Remember when AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) was just for the publishing industry? AMP launched for news publishers on Oct. 7, 2015. Less than a year later, it was available to all sites in all industries.

Local Listings Have Never Been Organic

There’s been a common misconception that local listings were an organic space, and therefore would always be free from ads. But local listings are not an organic space, nor have they ever been.

Local listings have always been an opt-in opportunity, based on information provided by businesses.

Unlike organic search results, Google local listings were never based on public trust information or information gathered from the web – you don’t even have to have a website to have a local listing. It’s a Google-owned directory.

Paid inclusion has been in the cards for years. The expansion of Google Home Service Ads comes as no surprise to me. I’ve been doing SEO since 1996, and I share my annual digital marketing predictions every year.

Back in 2012, I wrote:

“Local results become a massive revenue source for the search engines. A local paid inclusion program develops where brick and mortar sites can get local result preferential listings for a reasonable monthly fee. Some engines will offer comprehensive call tracking and analytics for local paid inclusion programs.

Local Paid Inclusion will replace traditional SEO and PPC as the first traffic tactic. Premium listings in local results will immediately gain popularity as early adopters happily get traffic for a low fee in a matter of days. This will be the most significant traffic tactic in 2012. Everyone that has a local address will participate.”

Pay attention as Google Home Service Ads roll out across all local industries. You’re going to need to strengthen your local SEO strategy and possibly increase your local listings budget in Google’s increasingly pay-to-play ecosystem.


Let us help you drive and track traffic to your website with a local SEO and PPC strategy. BCI’s services are tailor-made to match your business goals and audience. Let’s talk more about growing revenue through digital marketing.


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9 responses to “Why You Won’t Recognize Google Local Listings in a Year: Home Services Ads Explained by Bruce Clay”

  1. ViewpointOklahoma writes:

    Me Personally I probably won’t be using home services ads from google lately I am focusing in SEO and finding it to be rewarding if you racked in the map pack. We are currently ranking on top for several keywords simply by adding citations with are NAP on all of them also adding reviews by our customers seem to help as well. I truly belief anybody looking to compete in the future should take the advice above stating in the article great post!

  2. Toby writes:

    It’s so pay to play now, not even funny. Will be interesting to see where things go though!

  3. ardie cash writes:

    I do agree that “Paid Inclusion” is a reality and Google will increase it’s bottom line with this new offer in 2017. It’s only a matter of time before it rolls out for all local businesses throughout North America.

  4. Ankit Kumar writes:

    I applied for local listing a few days ago then google sent 4 digit PIN to my defined address after verifying it my business is listed in google search engine and map also.
    But after 1 week I see that google has removed it automatically without any notice :(

    If you know any reason then can you please share it with me ? So that I’ll take this next time.

  5. Andrew Doyle writes:

    To be honest, I’m surprised it has taken Google this long to capitalise on their maps listings, especially as it probably the most commonly manipulated property by SEOs.

    The only issue I see with this is that if a business is listed (through paid methods) in the maps section and is given preference over a more conveniently located business to the search user’s location, it does pull the user experience down.

    My clients currently get a lot of business through cleanly-optimised listings where we’ve gone through a lot of effort to boost their reviews. I would hate for the maps listing to become seen as “spammy” in the same way that some view AdWords ads.

  6. Mark Scheets writes:

    This was a very good write up, Bruce. The agency I work for strictly does Local SEO / PPC work for home service industry clients (home insulation, basement waterproofing, HVAC), so we have been trying to keep a close eye on this. Most of our clients are in the Midwest and Eastern part of the country, but there’s no question this will be rolled out nationwide.

  7. Matt LaClear writes:

    Great post Bruce, I always appreciate your insight. In your opinion what should local SEO agencies begin doing to prepare for this change?

  8. ChrisM writes:

    Good, bad or ugly Google Local SEO rewards local directory listings tremendously. I have spent eight months attempting to move my website on a nearby city with no results.

    Chris
    Owner CEL Financial Services Income IRS Registered Tax Preparation
    http://www.taxprepfillmore.com/

  9. Tim Colling writes:

    In some ways, it’s surprising that it has taken Google this long to monetize the “local” search index like this. This will lead to more expense for our clients, but it’s Google’s house so Google gets to set the house rules.

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