Google is rolling out a new feature for small businesses: the Google Guarantee badge certification.
For a monthly fee of $50, this certification will position your business as an upgraded profile within the Google My Business (GMB) dashboard. After passing a qualification and screening process, a “Google Guarantee” badge will appear on your GMB profile and potentially on listings that appear in the Local Pack.
But is Google Guarantee worth the $50 price tag? Here’s a rundown of the program’s pros and cons.
Madelyn Wing is Director of Product and Customer Marketing at CallRail
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How it works
Most marketers are already familiar with Google’s Local Services Ads (LSA), which generate leads for local businesses through paid search. The Google Guarantee badge is a similar program for organic.
If a business subscribes to the program, any services booked through Google Local Services will be insured up to a lifetime cap of $2,000 USD or CAD. If a customer is dissatisfied with a provider’s service, they can claim the amount on the job invoice.
Google Guarantee’s flat-rate payment model is a new frontier for the tech giant. This rollout is only Google’s second subscription-based service. But while this program continues to be an experiment, it’s a bit more stable than an Area 120 project like Calljoy. Expect it to stick around for a while.
How it benefits customers
For customers, Google Guarantee whittles down the local competition by building trust. Think back to the last time you hired a handyman or other contractor. Maybe you looked on Yelp, searched Google or asked for recommendations in a local Facebook Group.
Your search likely turned up many promising listings without a website or a storefront. The GMB listing may include no more than a phone number and a name, or at most a social media profile. This lack of information makes it hard to verify the contractor’s quality and reliability.
The Google Guarantee program could be a response to the increasing popularity of paid social advertising. It’s a common practice for small businesses to create a social profile before a website. A verification with this upgraded GMB listing could lend legitimacy to those businesses and boost customers’ trust.
Customers are more likely to take a chance on a $70 contractor who doesn’t have a website if they know they’ll get their money back in the event of a problem. And because enrolment in the program is subject to Google’s eligibility rules, customers will be more likely to trust GMB listings with the badge in the first place. The assurance of legitimacy helps customers avoid fraud and gain confidence in new contractors.
How Google Guarantee is different from LSA
Compared to LSA, Google Guarantee is:
- Simpler for small businesses
- Geared towards organic traffic
- Charged at a flat rate
The Google Guarantee badge subscription is a similar program to LSA, but serves a different target audience.
As a pay per click (PPC) program, LSA can be tricky for SMBs. If a small business owner is an expert at the service they’re providing, marketing may be just one of the many secondary hats they wear.
An inexperienced marketer may enroll in LSA, only understanding that it doesn’t charge without conversion. However, LSA can quickly and unexpectedly get expensive when that business suddenly gets 1,000 calls in a week. A flat rate of $50 for the Google Guarantee is the same as two PPC conversions. The average cost per conversion is $24, with a range of $5-$30.
The flat cost of Google Guarantee is attractive for SMBs because it mitigates LSA’s potential downsides. LSA participation is not required for a Google Guarantee badge. And while there is no guarantee of a CTR boost or engagement lift with a Google Guarantee badge, those in the know predict that those GMB profiles will rise in search results. So, participating businesses may get a boost without the risks of LSA.
The program will:
- Put you ahead of competitors who don't display the badge
- Increase your leads
- Up your Google ranking with increased volume
Circling back to the idea of a Google Guarantee badge as a driver of organic traffic, Google Home results include certified local businesses. That inclusion is vital because the rankings for Google Home results are all organic rather than paid.
That means for Google Home searches at least, Google Guarantee badge will position you ahead of competitors who aren’t in the program. You’ll see increased leads, and Google will increase your ranking for a flat rate.
Unfortunately, the program’s affordability may also make it a baseline marketing necessity over time, like Yelp. If most providers are verified, why would someone call the unverified service? Although the service could represent a drop in the bucket when it shoots your business to the top of organic search, only time will tell if the badge is worth it.
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