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There is one section of the SERP – the very top of the page in fact – that’s devoted to Google’s Local Service Ads. Within these service ads, you’ll find the all-important Google green checkmark of trust. Any local service provider with this green checkmark has essentially been “Google Screened” and is seen as a Google-trusted service provider.
Since people are far more likely to change their search terms than go to the second page of Google search results, becoming Google Screened is a great way for local service providers to appear on the first page. More importantly, it’s an innovative way to generate immediate calls and win new business.
What Is Google Screened?
Google Screened is a Google-initiated local service provider verification program. Google performs extensive background checks through its Google Partner program and Google’s Local Service Ads alongside local state and regulatory third parties. The purpose of the verification is to ensure a service provider’s licenses, insurance and reputation are current and in good standing.
The goal of the program is to pre-screen applicants before granting them the aforementioned Google green checkmark icon – commonly referred to as the Google Screened “Badge of Trust”. This badge means the local business has passed all of Google’s screening requirements and is seen as a Google-trusted service provider.
Is Google Screened Part of Google Local Service Ads?
Yes, Google Screened is part of Google Local Service Ads. The proof that a local service provider has passed the Google screening process is the presence of the aforementioned green checkmark. Local service ads provide local service businesses (advertisers) with leads through direct bookings, calls, and messages.
Local service businesses simply don’t have the digital advertising budget or volume of content to be positioned in the top five search results, let alone the top ten. Google Local Service Ads are a pay-per-lead system (not pay-per-click) that helps to level the playing field for home service businesses relative to their larger, better-funded competition.
How does The Google Screened Badge Benefit Your Business?
Think about how people go about looking for the services they need. They’ll search on Google, spend time reading customer reviews to ascertain which review is the most trustworthy. They then contact multiple service providers and ask each one for references. They then call those references. It’s also common for some people to check up on these businesses at their local better business bureau. That’s a lot of work just to find someone to provide a service.
Now think about how customers react when they see the Google Screened checkmark. They instantaneously associate that checkmark with validation. They don’t need to spend time researching and calling multiple service providers in an endless pursuit of validating their credentials. It’s an immediate recognition that the service provider is legitimate. That decision is instantaneous. Here are some of the immediate benefits of Google Screened.
- Legitimacy: The green checkmark tells potential customers you’ve been properly vetted. Your local service business has passed a strict approval process where your business’s credentials and reputation have been validated by Google itself. That speaks volumes about your business’s legitimacy.
- Trustworthy: Potential customers immediately associate the green checkmark with trustworthiness. All Google Screened ads come complete with photos of the business owner, a summary of ratings, number of years in business, phone numbers, and contact details. Customers immediately gravitate to photos of the business owners, which is a great way to make an immediate connection.
- Increased Visibility and More Direct Leads: Ultimately, it’s all about getting found and increasing a service business’s visibility. Local service providers that are Google Screened will see an immediate improvement in their searchability. More importantly, Google’s click-to-call feature guarantees a high volume of inbound calls which means more direct leads to close.
How do Local Service Providers Get Google Screened?
While the process to get Google Screened is a relatively simple one, it still takes a considerable amount of time for Google to perform all the vetting and verification. Typically, each step takes about 2-3 days, with the background checks taking a little longer. All applications must be made with one of Google’s Partners digital marketing agencies.
Participants will be asked to submit identification in the form of a valid driver’s license and social security number. A copy of the local service provider’s insurance and federal and state licenses is also required. Depending upon the size of the business, employees themselves may need to be screened as well. Google then performs a business and owner background check validating all insurance requirements.
The most important step is having a cumulative customer review rating of three stars or higher in your Google My Business profile. Proactively managing customer reviews is essential to maintaining a high rating as potential customers will immediately gravitate to the provider with the highest overall score.
Proactively Managing Google Screened
There are multiple reasons why a Google Screened service provider would be displayed ahead of another. Nobody but Google knows why that is. However, it simply stands to reason that a service provider with a higher rating is more likely to be ranked ahead of one with a lower rating. Since there are only three spaces available in Google’s Local Service Ads, local service providers must be proactive in managing their customer ratings. This involves immediately addressing customer issues and politely asking customers to change their rating should their concerns be properly addressed.
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Google Guaranteed and How it Differs from Google Screened
Google Screened ensures the local service provider’s business and reputation are in good standing and that the business has passed Google’s verification process. Google Guaranteed, on the other hand, is a little different. While it also requires an extensive Google background check, its purpose is to offer customers reimbursement for a portion of the services provided should the customer be unsatisfied with the work performed.
Google has set a predetermined amount for reimbursement based on the country covered. However, this reimbursed amount is only valid if customers book the work through Local Service Ads. In addition, the payment/reimbursement is entirely at Google’s discretion and there is a lifetime limit to how much each customer can be reimbursed.
Much like Google Screened, Google Guaranteed has a visible checkmark and badge of trust. However, there is an important difference between the two. Google Screened’s checkmark is entirely green with a white background so that only the green checkmark is visible. With Google Guaranteed, that checkmark is all white inside a green circle.
Which Option is Best for Your Business?
Ultimately, the goal of both programs is to prompt customers to contact your business. Both have checkmarks. Both involve in-depth verifications and background checks. Both define the business’s trustworthiness. However, Google Screened is the more popular of the two and is quickly being viewed as a necessity for local service providers.
Google Screened very well become as commonplace as having a Google My Business profile. It is also somewhat of a necessary evil, as local service providers who aren’t Google Screened will surely lose opportunities to competitors who are. As for Google Guaranteed, that decision ultimately comes down to whether your competition starts to adopt the program. As is so often the case, a large number of these programs succeed largely because they’re universally adopted.