Not being one to go stale, Google is currently beta testing a brand new search product aimed, supposedly, at increasing conversions for mom-and-pop shops from the search engine result pages after you search for something locally. Following Google’s rollout of scheduling from search engine result pages, it only makes sense they would seek to bolster that in the future. With that said, let’s take a minute to dig into “Google Guarantee” and talk about how it may affect auto shops in the very near future.
“Google Guarantee” is almost 100% what it sounds like. Google will soon start offering a “Google Guarantee” for people who schedule services through its contact form. As I said above, it is currently in beta testing, meaning it is only affecting “travel services” in the local San Francisco area. At this time, it is still up in the air whether or not it will roll out to automotive repair shops, however, historically, these type of beta tests follow a certain pattern. As we saw with the scheduling example above, and as we saw with Google displaying your most popular hours, these beta tests almost always rolled out to traveling services first, with automotive shops and other brick-and-mortar shops of that type coming in at a close second.
What does it mean for your business? What does it mean for SEO? Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge shift in the Google algorithm, particularly Google’s local algorithm, that indicates that reviews are a much bigger deal than they were in 2016 and will keep growing in importance through 2017. One of the things “Google Guarantee” will be doing for its vetting process will be manually thumbing through your reviews (not just Google reviews, but Yelp, Super Pages, or any other place you might have a review) and making a judgement on whether or not it wants to guarantee your service or not. It stands to reason that if Google will be potentially coming out-of-pocket for these in the event of a bad experience, that of course they will be looking at user reviews across the web. With that in mind, I believe it’s a reasonable prediction to say we will start to see reviews being exploited with much more gusto moving into the future. Knowing how Google likes to handle things like that (backlinks, anyone?), I think this metric will not last very long in its current incarnation. Overall, I think this will be a temporary, yet hugely beneficial search service. Early reports suggest that click-through-rate for “Google Guaranteed” results are seeing increases of 1,800%, and that’s not a type-o.
Google Guaranteed – will it be a boom or bust? Only time will tell. Of course, by the time this program rolls out nationally and into auto shops, it will most likely look and function completely differently than I’ve illustrated here. How much it will cost is still currently up in the air as well. Currently, Google is providing beta testers with this functionality free of charge, however, it is currently being managed (for those beta testers) inside of a beta version of the Adwords Express app, so I believe it’s fair to assume that by the time it rolls out, it will be charged in a similar way as PPC, where you are paying for activity or for out-right leads. Stay tuned – we’ll share any updates as we get them!