Google is keeping me on my toes. But this time, they’re also answering one of my oldest prayers.
By the end of this year, Google will introduce “Local Pack ads” to their search results pages. At first glance, this may not seem like a big deal…”Google’s putting more ads on its pages – so what?”
But these Local Pack ads are more than what they may seem. They offer fresh opportunity for home improvement companies to garner additional advertising space, and connect with homeowners who skip by the ads at the top of search results pages.
First, let’s look at a home improvement example of Google’s Local Pack as it’s currently showing. Typically, Google displays a map with listings from local companies right underneath. Google doesn’t charge for these listings, and generally awards them based company location:
But here’s the catch – many home improvement companies cover big territories. The location of their nearest office may not be physically close to the searcher’s location. So, while these large companies may actually serve the zip code in which a homeowner is searching, these listings won’t display in the Google Local Pack.
You may be positively the best windows replacement company for a searching homeowner. But your office is 15 miles away from the homeowner, and Google’s Local Pack won’t display your listing.
Google Local Pack ads will help you solve that problem. You’ll be able to buy a Local Pack ad to display above the three (free) existing listings, just as you would a paid search ad. Here’s an example for a Web site hosting company:
In short, you’ll be able to buy Local Pack ads across your entire territory, rather than hope and pray Google lists you in the free section. Put another way: you’re in control. If you have a territory that’s fifty miles in each direction around your office, you’ll likely be able to drive 3X-5X more clicks. That’s a lot more clicks. And a lot more sales leads.
The effect is even more profound on mobile phones, where display space is at a real premium. A new listing at the top of the page is even more valuable for home improvement products and services that require an immediate phone call.
Just a year ago Google changed from displaying seven businesses on a page, down to just three in the Local Pack. And now Google is cutting that down to two (or three) with an ad.
On the other hand, this is more bad news for businesses who were fortunate to have listings consistently at the bottom of page one – as Local Pack ads will make low-ranking Page 1 listings even harder for homeowners to find.
Of course, online advertising geeks like me find all of this exciting. However, know that Local Pack ads will not replace either paid search advertising or search engine optimization. However, they do represent an additional opportunity for smart home improvement companies to grab more sales leads from homeowners’ searches.
Moreover, businesses relying on organic listings should also be concerned, as they may find themselves falling unexpectedly.