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Google has recently been testing out a different type of 3 pack or snack pack in San Francisco and rumor has it they are doing something similar in San Diego in the very near future. Here is what we have noticed: See this link to see the result live for yourself.
1) Mobile vs Desktop Index:This seems to be inline with Google building out both a mobile as well as a desktop index. Google knows that mobile search is on a serious uptrend right now. More and more people are using their phones for search, particularly for service based industries like plumbers , locksmiths and HVAC companies.
2) Spam Elimination: Google is making a serious effort to eliminate the spammy listings that seem to be really prevalent in these particular niches. Locksmiths seemed to be the worst offenders when it came to reputational things and just plain spammy websites.
3) Live Bids:They are now offering the end user (the person searching) the ability to request a bid live in the browser. We suspect this has a multitude of reasons behind it. The first, is Google is rewarding customers who are spending Ad Words dollars. This is how Google makes a good portion of their income, so this makes sense from a financial standpoint. We haven’t been able to find any definitive answers on what exactly “Google guaranteed” means or how to obtain that certification. Venturing a guess, we suspect it has to do with a properly set up Google My Business in conduction with an active Ad Words account. It very well could be that the merchants will have to become verified through the traditional Google Trusted Store route.
At this point….who knows?
We have worked with a plumbing company in the past and to tell you the truth, we don’t have much confidence in this working from the service level provider side of things. Most plumbing companies, HVAC and locksmiths are either answering their own phones while they are live out in the field…doing work or they have an answering system. Typically these are 3rd party services that just handle the inbound call and dispatch. Outwardly facing, if this is a true “live” bidding system, its going to require additional manpower to respond to these inquiries. If its not a live situation, its going to require the business owner to upload a pretty involved list of services and a what they would charge for it.
We know from working with the plumbing company, that this is not something that is going to be easily achieved. For example, if the customer needs an estimate on a bathtub install there are a ton of variables that the plumber has to take into consideration. How old is the house? Is there an existing unit in place that will need to be removed? Is the bathroom on the 1st floor or is it in the basement or upstairs?
Additionally, it says “Get Quotes Within Hours”. Anyone else see the issue with this ? I would venture a guess that most calls to plumbers and nearly all calls to Emergency Locksmiths are exactly that EMERGENCY. I for one, do not want to wait for hours to have a plumber get back to me while bad sh*t is happening at my home or office.
This is a pretty significant departure from the look and feel of the original map layout with points denoting where a business was located. We like this approach better because you can scan and visually tell how close a business is in relation to your location. For example, if you live in the Mission District in San Fransisco, are you really going to contact a plumber with an address in Oakland? That’s quite a long trip for the plumber to make all the way across the bay while your apartment is steadily flooding from that busted pipe in your bathroom.
Google is continually fiddling with things and split testing, so who know if this will stick or not. Personally we are not a fan of it the way it currently sits.
4) Angies List, Thumbtack etc: I don’t know that Angies List or Thumbtack were necessarily direct competitors of Google, but this is a direct hit to both sites from our perspective. No longer will you have to go to Angie’s List website and search for a contractor and then wait for a response. Google has now bundled the reviews, the bid submission process and a way to contact them in a one-stop-shop approach. Per usual with Google, its a good idea but REALLY needs a usability specialist to give it a once over.
Poor execution so far.
Until Next time 🙂 Let us know what you are seeing and your thoughts.