By David Hunter, CEO of Epic Web Studios and ASAPmaps in Erie, PA. He also co-founded dbaPlatform, a local SEO software.
What does being trusted mean to you? The Google Guarantee program was built on the principle that it means a lot — in fact, a 2019 Google survey of small business owners strongly reaffirmed that. The program’s intent is to instill consumer confidence by ensuring that your business is verified, you can provide a product or service, and you operate with professionalism and integrity.
How The Google Guarantee Works
The Google Guarantee is denoted by a green badge inset with a white checkmark, a visual indicator of trustworthiness. It has been appearing in Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs) for a few years now, in an attempt to cut down on scams involving unlicensed, uninsured or even misidentified home services contractors. More recently, Google has been offering a limited number of preapproved businesses the option of upgrading their Google My Business listing with the Google Guarantee badge for $50 a month ($600 annually).
Google Local Services Ads
Because the upgraded Google My Business listings are only in the testing phase and not everyone has the ability to opt in, your best bet is to apply for the Google Guarantee program through an LSA account.
Google’s LSAs are a separate entity from traditional paid search ads (Google Ads, formerly AdWords) and follow a different set of rules, chiefly that they are charged per lead, instead of per click. They appear at the very top of search engine results pages (SERPs), above pay-per-click (PPC) ads and the organic search results in groups of three on desktops or two on mobile devices. Google Voice Assistant will serve the single top-ranking LSA for voice search queries. Customers can contact you directly through the ad, at which point you have the option of calling back, emailing, texting or declining the lead.
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Creating A Google LSA Account
LSA accounts are available to a wide number of service categories, depending on the market. From your account profile, you’ll be able to set your business hours, areas of expertise, types of jobs performed and weekly budget (not to exceed a monthly maximum). Optional highlights can be added to promote special attributes or differentiators from your competition. These help match you with more qualified leads.
Google LSA Ranking System
LSAs are ranked according to proximity to the prospective customer searching for you, your overall review score and number of reviews, your communicativeness with customers, your business hours, and your record of serious or repeated complaints. Unlike PPC ads, you do not bid on terms — Google automatically serves the LSA most relevant to the query.
Applying To The Google Guarantee Program
To be eligible for the Google Guarantee badge, you must submit to a screening and qualification process that includes:
• Licensing verification (all applicable professional licenses).
• Insurance verification.
• Your business’s EIN (tax number).
• Background checks of the business and any field technicians who will be entering homes.
Background checks are conducted by Pinkerton and typically take about five weeks to complete. They are performed at no additional cost to you. After that is all sorted out, you will be officially Google Guaranteed, or Google Screened if you are a professional service provider, such as a lawyer, financial planner or real estate company — this is denoted by a solid green checkmark.
Google Guarantee Benefits
Once you receive your Google Guarantee badge, if a customer who converted through a Local Services Ad is in any way dissatisfied with the quality of your initial service, Google has the ability to reimburse the customer for up to $2,000. If a request for reimbursement is made, Google will get in touch with you and potentially the customer for further details. You will have the opportunity to resolve the complaint on your own before Google intervenes.
Google Guarantee Challenges
The Google Guarantee badge does not reimburse customers for complaints about subsequent projects with your business, damages to property, complaints about the service provider’s pricing or responsiveness, or cancellations. The Google arbitration does not cover you against any insurance claims or legal action the customer may take independently.
The verdict is still out about the immediate value of the Google Guarantee program, but in time, as the badges gain universal recognition, it could become a vital part of your local SEM strategy. As it is, it could be worth the placement in Google’s Local Services Ads, appearing above the competition and at the top of customers’ minds.