In the majority of major markets in the U.S., Google isn’t using its traditional search index or its mobile index to serve local service provider results (e.g., like locksmiths or plumbers) through the Google Assistant or Google Home devices. Instead, it’s using a subset of listings that are Google Guaranteed or pre-screened and certified by partners Porch or HomeAdvisor. Here is what you need to know.
Only local listings that qualify will generally be served, although in isolated markets where there aren’t enough of these certified businesses Google may backfill with listings from its main indexes. Each individual listing carries a badge indicating the certifying entity.
Yext offers a direct data feed into Amazon Alexa results, so any third party publisher or marketing agency working with Yext receives the benefit of that distribution for its customers. However, there’s no comparable program for Google Assistant. Local providers must either work with Porch or HomeAdvisor or submit an individual listing directly to Google and meet the Google Guarantee criteria to be shown in Google Assistant results.
Although it doesn’t directly mention Google Guarantee, this form is where local providers (or their marketing surrogates) can submit themselves for review. Google Local Services advertisers that have already received Google Guarantee certification are automatically eligible to appear in Google Assistant results.
In order to be Google Guaranteed, businesses must pass a background check and have their license and insurance details verified.
Until I spoke with Google about these requirements, I was completely unaware of them. I’m guessing that most local marketers are in the same position.
In 2016 Google reported that 20 percent of mobile search traffic on Android devices was voice search. We don’t have an updated number or a sense of query volumes coming through Google Home or Assistant-powered devices. It’s a safe bet, however, that the numbers are increasing and the search volumes will ultimately be significant.
Because only a subset of local provider listings are served through the Google Assistant, there’s going to be somewhat less organic competition than in search on the desktop or in traditional mobile search. This is an opportunity that probably won’t last much longer.