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Breaking News: Google Updates Their LSA Program

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In a move seen by many industry insiders as the next logical step in a world preparing to coexist alongside the Coronavirus, Google recently announced significant changes to its Local Service Ads (LSA’s). As many businesses shift towards an extended “work from home” environment as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are also given credit as consumers. And as these consumers are spending more time within the confines of their home, geographically-localized searches for service providers have increased exponentially. As such, the new Goole LSA program’s features intend to make the search & hiring processes more efficient and practical.

While the registration & sign-up process for every business classification has already commenced, this update is gradually rolling out, starting with three business verticals. The newest verticals benefitting from this enhancement fall underneath the larger Professional Services umbrella. This category includes Lawyers, Real Estate Agents, Financial Planners & Tax/Accounting specialists among its ranks. The second set of verticals serving as a test category is the newly-created “Creative Services” category. This classification joins together professions such as Event Planners, Photographers & Video Services, Architects, Interior Designers, and others requiring a degree of artistry & creativity.

Among the many end-user benefits of this new platform:

“Google Screened” & “Google Guaranteed” badges: Google will put all businesses wishing to differentiate themselves within the platform through a “quality verification” process. Once completed, These companies will have a badge above their listing, stating that this business is (per the background checks) legitimate, credible, and trustworthy.

Online Booking: Consumers will now be able to schedule appointments directly with businesses using a smartphone app, dramatically increasing the speed and efficiency of this process. 

Expanded Operational Details: Businesses that have adjusted their operational protocols as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic can now provide specific information within their listings. This extended information includes the safety of curbside pickup and “no-touch” delivery, the convenience of “in-stock” availability notifications, and regularly updated hours of operation. Each of these will streamline the consumer shopping experience and drive more business volume to the listed companies.

Of course, like anything new, few critics voiced concerns that the real motivation behind this platform enhancement is sinister. They argue that this is no more than Google’s attempt to target a new revenue stream. That stream is, of course, occupied & dominated these days by the behemoth service verification & listing platforms like Angie’s List & Home Advisor. Perhaps the “screened” and “guaranteed” labels are much akin to similar tags found on these other sites. However, none possess the reach & power of Google’s business services, nor do any carry the reputation or credibility of Google. Therefore, let the naysayers say “nay,” while the rest maximize these new features for their intended purposes: To grow & expand our business volume & reach.

From the benefit-based perspective of a digital marketing agency, we find these changes to be a much-welcome enhancement to an already reliable and universally-embraced online listing platform, one utilized by all of our clients throughout regions all over the country. There is much to like about these new features and very little to cause concern. Whether you approve of these changes or not, make no mistake about the importance of these new features. Every business will be affected by this change for the better, provided a quick & seamless adoption process. The choices are to accept & adapt, or try to resist & risk fading into the virtual sunset. We choose the former, as do most of our clients; what will you choose?

Find out if your business qualifies for Google’s Local Services Ads Program today 

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