Google's Contractor Marketplace Expands, Rebrands To 'Local Services' In Search

Google on Tuesday announced the rollout of Local Services by Google, previously called Home Services, to 17 cities in the United States. The service will become available in 30 major cities nationwide by the end of the year. Categories now include plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, HVAC, and garage door repair.

The rebranding and expansion plans are intended to help the service compete with the combined strength of Angie's List and Home Advisor, as well as Amazon Home & Business Services.

Local Services by Google serves Sponsored Ads at the top of Search queries, ranking them among other businesses that Google pulls into the search results. Signals used to rank the list include quality, responsiveness and location and proximity, said Kim Spalding, product director for small and medium business ads at Google. She also ran a small winery in Seattle for several years.

There is also a mobile app to help the small business track leads. Businesses only pay for leads relevant to the services they offer.

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"It's a turn-it-on or turn-it-off service where you pay for any relevant phone call that lasts more than 30 seconds," said Dan Travers, co-founder of Anytyme San Diego Plumbing.

Unlike AdWords, there is no bidding strategy for keywords, he said -- instead, there is is a set price per lead in Local Services.

Travers has been working with Local Services by Google for nearly a year, hiring five new employees to keep up with demand from the Sponsored Ads search leads. The business has grown a little more than 48% since joining the beta in November 2016.

Today, Google Home Services represents 56% of Anytyme's growth, Travers said. "We started with plumbing and then in July they added heating and plumbing as a category, and we've seen a significant volume increase in the amount of leads coming in," he said.  

Paid-search ads in Google AdWords also has been part of Anytyme's growth, Travers acknowledges, but the majority of growth has come from Local Services.

There is also a way for the business to ask customers to post an online review through the service, so that anyone searching for that plumber or the electrician also sees reviews, ratings and guarantees of service, giving potential customers the confidence to make the call.

Businesses are vetted. A background screening is required before Google allows the company to participate in the program. 

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