Do We Want Google Connecting Us To A Plumber?
I think we can all agree that there are now countless ways to find a plumber in your area when the need arises. From traditional advertisements like the phone book, church newsletters, mailers and local business directories to the dearth of online choices via Google’s paid listings, local directories and organic rankings. If you need a service provider you can find one.
Several days ago it was announced that Google would begin adding search results via their paid app for small businesses called Adwords Express. Each company that pays for the service will be vetted by Google to ensure they are a reputable contractor. If the wizard deems the contractor worthy they are added to the paid results at the top of the page when someone enters a search query like “Clogged Toilet” or “help with sewer backup”
At first glance it might seem harmless right? Google is helping the consumer get what they want and helping the contractor reach their audience. However, if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that their actions are almost entirely self-serving.
Angie’s List, Yelp and Amazon Are The Obvious Losers
The most obvious losers affected by Google’s new play are sites like Angie’s List, Yelp and Amazon’s new home services. I think this may be the first and only time I will defend Yelp but they have poured hundreds of millions of dollars in development, advertising and years building their own review system. It works so well that Google and Yelp have met in court a few times. Google threatened to pull Yelp search results if Yelp didn’t make some of their content available in Google’s Place Pages. Angies’s List is very different but equally affected by Google’s move. Angie’s List is a paid services directory where the paying contractors are background checked pretty extensively and then those contractors are served to consumers looking for work to be done. Another growing business model threatened to be squashed by Google’s new venture are local dedicated service directories not unlike our own right here on The Plumbing Info. We dedicated ourselves to providing the best plumbing content on the web, we know plumbing, why not look for a plumber right here where you are researching your problem?
If the above isn’t enough to make a skeptic of you regarding Google’s future plans maybe this will. Maybe you’re one of those companies that took very seriously the advice of your web consultant. Years ago you began creating content both written and in video form. It took you years but you managed to creep up the local search rankings and now you own your local market organically. In a couple months someone who knows nothing about plumbing or any other service sector can catapult a company to the top of the paid search section. You may say “well I can pay to be part of the program too so I’ll join if I can’t beat em” That’s great but here is the kicker. The potential consumer can do all of the research on your company and contact you without ever leaving Google. You get zero credit for that interaction. No click through traffic, no page views and no link credit. It is literally a win, win, win situation for Google. They leapfrog the very companies that are innovating in the space, they carve out a new revenue stream from the carcasses of the companies that did it best and finally they capture all of the traffic from their new product.
Google’s sole purpose is to offer the best content to consumers looking for answers however they are slowly and methodically
stealing that content and those companies innovating as evident by the way they are serving up great content lately. Type in a search query “unclog toilet” and see what you get. You get an abridged version of content with a picture from the website Family Handyman and although the link to the site is present you can read the content without leaving the comfort of Google’s search page. Once again the originator of the content receives no traffic from the query.
Let me end with this, Google is like a force of nature. Companies have made billions of dollars over the last 20 years because Google has been exceptional at the majority of what they touch. However leave content and service contractors alone. Let people in the business market and innovate in the business.