As far back as 2015, Google began experimenting with a beta, invite only program that enabled some businesses offering “home services” (just plumbers and locksmiths to begin with, and only in a certain area) to become “Guaranteed Service Providers” and be featured as a “sponsored” (read “paid” or “ad”) listing, at the top of the 3-pack of local search results. (Which used to be a 7-pack.)
Over time, the program was expanded to include other categories of “home service” businesses, (including electricians, home cleaners, etc.) and as of late last year, its expanded to a larger area, and according to reports, sometimes all 3 of the local pack listings are “sponsored” in areas where it is available.
Eventually, these Home Service Ads are expected to roll out everywhere, and what it boils down to, is that the local listings will become paid inclusion only for a wide range of relevant businesses or services.
Google Ads For Local
We’re probably still a way off from that here, (although perhaps not as far as we might think) but the simple fact is that this is a revenue stream Google will be able to exploit, and as we’ve noted many times in the past, Google is a business.
As a result, it’s likely that at some point in the not too distant future, the only way local businesses will be able to appear in the local results will be to buy into home service ads.
It’s uncertain whether this will form part of the existing Google Ads ecosystem, or will be a separate system altogether, but what is pretty certain is that it’s coming to a local pack near you at some point.