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Google launches Guarantee badge for Google My Business

by David Colgate

August 10, 2020

Google is rolling out a paid verification service for local businesses that promises to refund unhappy customers. The Google Guarantee is an existing programme that aims to increase confidence by adding verification badges to local listings and offering refunds of up to $2,000 for customers who receive sub-par services.

Now, eligible businesses can pay $50 per month to get a Google Guaranteed badge on their local listings and to encourage more people in their area to hire them with confidence. As things stand, Local Services is only available in the US and Canada but early success could see the programme expand to other countries - so is this good news or bad news for marketers?

Google launches paid verification for local businesses

As Google explains, “The Google Guarantee badge is available for businesses that pass a Google screening and qualification process through Google Local Services.”

“If you’re backed by the Google Guarantee, and your customers (that came to your business through Google) aren’t satisfied with work quality, Google may refund the amount paid for the service.”

Google goes on to explain that “if one of your customers submits a claim, we’ll contact you to learn more. You’ll have an opportunity to make things right with your customer. After investigating the claim, Google will decide on a resolution.”

If said customers are successful with their claim, Google will refund them up to a limit of $2,000.

Credit: Tom Waddington

Google hasn’t officially announced the move but Tom Waddington posted a screenshot on Twitter of the programme being promoted within the Google My Business account of a client. Last April, Google sent out a survey to small business owners and marketing agencies in the US, asking them about enhanced GMB services and how much they might be willing to pay for them. This prompted speculation that the search giant would soon move to monetise Google My Business and it seems we’re now seeing the first attempt to do so.

Which businesses are eligible for The Google Guarantee?

For now, Google paid guarantee programme is irrelevant for businesses outside of the US and Canada. Even within the two North American nations, only a select number of local businesses are eligible for Local Services in each country.

United States: Appliance repair services, carpet cleaning services, cleaning services, electricians, estate lawyer services, junk removal services, financial planning services, garage door services, HVAC (heating or air conditioning), immigration lawyer services, lawn care services, locksmiths, removals, pest control services, plumbers, property services, roofers, tree services, water damage services, window cleaning services and window repair services.

Canada: Electricians, locksmiths, plumbers and HVAC (heating or air conditioning).

According to reports from Search Engine Land, Google is calling the paid subscription an “experiment” so we’re some way from seeing this launch in territories outside of the US and Canada.

However, this does suggest Google is intent on monetising Google My Business and, if this proves successful, it will only be a matter of time before local businesses in all major markets face a monthly subscription fee for maximising visibility on GMB.

Is this good or bad news for marketers?

There are a lot of aspects to consider here. When Google first rolled out its guarantee programme, as a non-paid service, it was designed to tackle spam listings and fraudulent service providers using local search to target consumers.

If Google is rolling out a paid version of the programme to make it more effective at preventing spam and fraud, then it makes a lot of sense. From the consumer perspective, it certainly helps them hire local services with greater confidence. Businesses in these categories may benefit from the verification, too, especially the kind of businesses people might be wary of inviting into their home or dealing with their personal finances.

While there’s no data to support the assumption, marketers are generally confident the guarantee badges will have a positive impact on CTRs and conversions. At the same time, marketers are quick to point out that GMB has a serious problem with spam and some are optimistic the paid service may price a significant amount of GMB spammers out of the platform.

However, the overall response from marketers to the news of a paid service has been quite negative. As always, there are concerns about the idea of GMB becoming a paid-for platform and a lot of marketers have rightly pointed out that small businesses have suffered enough as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Another issue raised by some is that paid subscriptions could actually make it easier for some GMB spammers to game the platform and make it more difficult to report/remove them.

Unfortunately, none of the information we have about paid guarantee badges comes directly from Google and there’s a lot of speculation over detail - for example, how this will work for businesses with multiple locations. The good news for businesses and marketers outside of the US and Canada is that we have time to see how things develop over there before any potential rollout elsewhere.

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