Google Local Service Ads

Google has quietly been trialling a service known as “Local Service Ads” in the United States.  Originally just available in a limited number of locales, it has now been rolled out to 17 cities and will be available in 30 by the end of the year. 

Essentially, Google Local Service adverts are paid ads that sit in their own dedicated carousel in the Google SERPs above the organic search results and appear to searchers looking for home service providers in their local area, like plumbers or locksmiths.  They are different to the normal PPC adverts because there are certain Google set criteria that your business needs to meet before you can have a Local Service ad, such as employee background checks.  Once you’ve qualified however, your Local Service ad will have a “Google Guaranteed” icon in it.

Most importantly, that “Google Guaranteed” icon means Google will guarantee the work carried out by that service provider to the value of the invoice if the consumer is unhappy with the work.

This is particularly important for companies who aren’t wanting to pay for these leads because the “Google Guarantee” icon, and the prominence of the ads above the organic search results means there is likely to be a high rate of people seeing the ads and clicking on them.  This means that for everyone else, it is crucially important that your Google My Business listing, the free “advert” for your business that sits beneath the map in the Google search results, is awesome.  It will have even greater competition for local searches, not just from other Google My Business listings, but now from these special paid adverts and will need to stand out.  The best thing you can do, even if you’re not in the US, is encourage your customers to leave honest reviews about your business and make sure you serve them well!  At the moment, not many people understand what the Google Guarantee is, so the click through for these ads might not be huge in the first instance, whereas everyone recognises a 5-star review when they see it!  If this trial proves successful in the US, you can bet it will be rolled out across the world.  Keep an eye on this, it might be in a city near you soon!

Restaurant Wait Times

Google has introduced “average wait times” to Google My Business listings for restaurants.  We’ve already seen “people spend an average of 30 mins to an hour here” on Google My Business results for a while, but now there will also be an average time for any given hour of the day that visitors have had to wait to be seated. 

Crucially, this is Google’s own data that is powering it, they’re saying it pulls from “anonymised historical data”.  It’s the same way they estimate how busy roads are when they tell you there’s heavy traffic on the roads near you.  It already exists for bars and museums, but is now being rolled out for sit-down eating establishments.  It’s great for people like me who are too impatient to wait more than 10 minutes to be fed when they get to a restaurant and will help with forward planning events as you can see the average wait time across other days and times of the week. However it doesn’t appear at the moment that there’s a way for restaurant owners to turn this feature off and the only way to change this reported wait time is to genuinely lower the amount of time your customers have to wait to be seated.  This will likely be a bit frustrating for restaurant owners at first as it could be a huge deterrent for people walking in off the street to dine, but it could lead to an increase in the number of bookings taken online and over the phone.  I’ll wait to see how it pans out (that was a food pun by the way).

Mozilla Quantum

Mozilla has released a new browser the “Firefox Quantum” which they’re billing as being twice as fast as their previous browser and requiring 30% less memory than Google Chrome.  Why is this important? Well, people might be adopting Firefox in greater volumes, if so you need to make sure your website looks good and functions well on this new browser.  Most importantly though, the default search engine for it will no longer be Yahoo as it has been on previous Firefox browsers, but will be Chrome instead.  The tiny share of the search market in the UK that Yahoo currently holds could reduce further as there will be less people using it as the default search engine and users will have to choose to make it their preferred search engine.

Google’s share of the UK search market will grow again, just like it recently did when Apple announced in September that it would be moving form Bing powering its Siri searches, to Google.  Google’s taking over, one browser and virtual assistant at a time!


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