When something happens that concerns people over their future as either a company or freelancer offering SEO services, or even business owners that have a strong understanding of SEO for their own businesses, there’s a fairly typical reaction.
Fear and sensationalizing “what might happen” if something else happens, is a common occurrence among SEO blogs, marketing forums, and other marketing news sources. Not much different than political news for that matter.
It’s one of the reasons I don’t post about that crap. If there’s something I want to address that’s news-worthy, it is something I already see a solution to, or to try and calm down those of you frantically searching for a Xanax.
Home Service Ads / Google Concierge to KILL SEO?
Look, so what has been news over the last few days in regards to this, has been something that was already announced last year. The Google Home Service Ads were being tested back in July of 2015.
If this was being tested back in July of 2015, why is everyone freaking out about the future of Local SEO because they see a similar result in March of 2016? It kind of makes me wonder if people that are “covering” SEO, have actually been working with clients.
Here is one of the results that have people worried:
This was for the search term, “Plumber San Jose CA”
The 3 pack has been replaced with a lead pack, paid placement and Google gets paid per lead instead of per click. You click the “Send Request” button and can choose to receive quotes from numerous plumbers or service professionals.
This isn’t new.
Whether it’s called Google Home Service Ads, a feature in Adwords Express, or if it’s called Google Concierge dubbed by Mike Blumenthal… it doesn’t matter.
While it may be easy to tell everyone that the world is ending and SEO is over, that this will be rolled out to every city in the USA and in the world, it simply isn’t true.
I’m going to break this down in depth, so you can see for yourself why this isn’t going to happen.
It’s Impossible To Scale
When I first thought it would be very difficult to scale, I had reservations about that thought. In general, it would be a bad bet, to bet against Google and the possibility to grow on a large scale. They’re a giant company with almost unlimited data at their disposal.
One thing I think a lot of people understand though, is that Google isn’t known for its’ intuitive support system or customer service reps. If you’re unlucky enough to have had to get in touch with support or customer service for any reason, you know what I’m talking about.
Here’s where the real problem is.
If Google wants to limit liability to themselves, they need to demand certain levels of precaution, which is going to hinder their potential for growth in this field.
For example, here are just a few requirements from their background check:
You must satisfy Google’s Minimum Provider Requirements:
- You and any employees, contractors (including subcontractors), or other workers who provide services in customers’ homes, workplaces, or other properties must complete third-party background checks before you may participate in the home service ads program.
- Your company must remain in good standing with all background-check requirements as described below.
For each worker, the background check includes inquiries about Social Security number validity and criminal history (including cross-checks against national sex offender and terrorist/sanctions registries and lists). At the company level, the process also includes professional license and insurance verifications.
Local laws and regulations
You must comply with all applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which you provide or offer services through the home service ads program. You must comply with all relevant licensing or other regulatory requirements, and you are solely responsible for all compensation, licensing, regulatory fees or dues, insurance, or any other related costs and legal duties required of you as a service provider.
Sure, Google won’t have to do the background checks by themselves, it will be another company handling it. They need to be able to vet those that take part in the program, which adds a bit of burden to the business owner but is going to be one of the prices you have to pay.
There’s only one approved service for background checks, and that is Pinkerton. Requiring participating companies to go through this process isn’t that bad, considering most of the work involved is on another party.
Considering that, though, we need to understand that handling this on a nation-wide level will prove to be nearly impossible.
To combat any problems, Google will require regular audits to make sure information is up to date along with licensing, insurance, etc.
That’s a lot of work involved for Google, which will reduce the average revenue per employee and likely not help raise their stock, which is actually the most important thing for Google. There’s a reason why only a couple hundred businesses are part of this “pilot program”.
Current locations where home service ads get displayed
Here you can see a map of the cities that display the home service ads:
As you can see, this has been rolled out ONLY to the San Francisco bay area.
This is often the area of such tests, and experiments. What happens in the SF Bay Area, does not indicate what is certain to happen across the country and world.
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Understanding The Google and HomeAdvisor Partnership
Google has been trying to make moves to capitalize on the home service industry. They want to take some share away from Amazon, but Amazon has always been a support/service based company when it comes to their customers. Google, comes up short in that department.
A few months back, in November of 2015, a partnership was announced between Google and HomeAdvisor. This announcement wasn’t very surprising. After all, we knew about Google already experimenting in this space.
The reason for the partnership was pretty clear, Google has no intention, or at the very least, no preference of building out its reach by themselves, this dates back to when they invested in Thumbtack a few years ago.
There’s one confusing difference though, between the home service ads and the HomeAdvisor integration. Home service ads are in the SF bay area, and HomeAdvisor integration is more of a widget/booking system (example shown below) that would theoretically be implemented across the country.
This is incredibly important in realizing what is going on.
They will not allow the booking integration to happen for those that are not already pre-screened and paying members of HomeAdvisor, which suggests that Google also will not have the capability to scale their home service ads across the county.
The partnership has nothing to do with expanding the home service ads, it allows Google to generate revenue from an instant booking integration, on profiles that have existed long before the HomeAdvisor partnership.
Non-HomeAdvisor Verified profile = Same ole Google My Business/place layout
Verified HomeAdvisor businesses = instant booking technology at the bottom of the layout.
That’s all folks… Nothing crazy about it. Nothing to really worry about.
IAC, the parent company of HomeAdvisor has been trying to acquire AngiesList, even since the partnership between Google and HomeAdvisor. This suggests that they’re wanting to do a lot more with the home service industry.
Google, testing their own home service ads and not expanding it beyond the SF Bay Area and instead partnering with HomeAdvisor to monetize business profiles across the country, should be encouraging to those of you doing SEO for clients.
Google cares about its’ investors, and with the holding company now referred to as “Alphabet”, they make it clear, that’s what they really care about. Alpha, bet. Alpha, even a focal point on the abc.xyz website, defined as “investment return above benchmark”. That’s what Google has been doing for years.
This partnership with HomeAdvisor, is simply a way to generate additional revenue via business profiles in Google My Business. If Home Service Ads were going to be part of a nationwide rollout, would Google be concerned with monetizing GMB profiles? I don’t think so.
Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comment section below.