And you thought the Snack Pack was rough on local businesses. Right around the same time Google rolled out the Snack Pack, the search giant began beta testing in the San Francisco Bay area what could be an even more significant, and potentially devastating, update to its search engine results page (SERP) and local listings.
Google’s New Home Service Ads
Take a look at this screen grab of a search for “san francisco plumber,” juxtaposed with the same search for Lee’s Summit, MO (TTP HQ). Looks a little… different.
The Lee’s Summit search is a prime example of the new Snack Pack of local listings, while the San Francisco one seems to throw that update right out the door in favor of an even more refreshed look. And while a map is noticeably missing from the San Francisco search, that isn’t the most significant change with this beta test. This little pack of three isn’t a group of top organic local listings, like in the Snack Pack – these are sponsored, paid advertisements, known as home service ads, from the plumbers listed.
(Okay, they “may” be paid. Right.)
When you click on “More” at the bottom of the pack of home service ads, rather than seeing an expanded map with additional local listings, like you do with the Snack Pack, searchers are now taken to this page:
What’s Going On?
Like we mentioned before, this beta testing of home service ads is only in the San Francisco Bay area. It’s currently restricted to handymen, house cleaners, locksmiths and, of course, plumbers (home services), but we predict it will rapidly spread not only across the country, but across industries and professions.
What Does This Mean for Me?
While the answer should surprise no one, that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. The expansion of the home service ads beta testing into a full-blown update comes with a few consequences:
- SERPs will have more ad space
- They will have significantly less organic local listings
- Local businesses will have to spend money
If you are a local business, no matter how hard you have focused your efforts, whether by yourself or through an online marketing agency such as TTP, if you have not invested money in paid search for Google, you will be affected.
With more ad space and less room and focus on organic local listings, we expect clients to see a decrease in calls as their links begin to drop and get buried in the paid results.
What Can I Do?
As local business lovers, we’re on your side. We encourage you to contact your Account Executive with any questions or concerns you may have as to how home service ads may impact your business. And if you’re not yet a client, we welcome you to call us at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001 to get in touch with one of our online marketing experts.