Google has implemented a plethora of algorithm changes in recent years to give users confidence in the results they see. Particularly for those seeking answers, products or services, the need to find reputable, qualified listings and results is absolutely paramount. Nobody – whether they are looking for local services or international solutions – wants to be led astray and find themselves a victim to disinformation or shoddy customer service.
Thankfully, local users can now trust Google’s local search results even more. Recently, Google unveiled its new Local Trust pack – a set of solutions designed to augment local search authenticity and SEO outcome for relevant and reputable brands.
But what exactly can brands and businesses expect from these changes? Today, let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to know about Google’s Local Trust pack.
What Is Google’s Local Trust Pack?
Google is constantly refining its locally-relevant SERPs to serve the most up-to-date and vital information to local users. Whether the search is being performed from a mobile device that’s geographically detected or a desktop computer using local queries, Google’s algorithms seek to make the most of its Local Trust pack.
In essence, the Local Trust pack is a combination of three results displayed at the top of select SERPs. This feature is seen in SERPs where a local business or service is the perceived desire of the search engine user. For instance, a search for “dry cleaners near me” or “self-storage in Atlanta, GA” may trigger the display of the Local Trust pack. This displays under a section referred to as “Top Results”.
While in the past, the Local Trust pack featured more (organic) listings, Google has scaled this back to the top 3 listings. While this may mean it is more difficult to rank via the Local Trust pack, it also makes this real estate more valuable in locally-relevant results.
Do I Need to Run Ads to Appear in the Local Trust Pack?
Historically, the local pack has focused on organic listings within a geographic area. However, times have changed: The Local Trust pack specifically is a new variation of the old standard. As such, yes, businesses are required to run ads via the Local Search Ads system in order to be featured in the Local Trust pack specifically.
Many local businesses may already be familiar with the Local Services Ads platform, but for those who aren’t, plenty of relevant step-by-step tutorials can be found online. As of today, Local Services Ads serves a relative handful of local areas: 29 metropolitan areas in all are covered via Local Services Ads, including such locales as St. Louis, MO and Denver, CO.
How Can I Access the Local Trust Pack with My LSAs?
In case it wasn’t clear already, the primary course of action is to use Local Service Ads in order to be potentially visible via the Local Trust pack. It is important to remember that the Local Trust Pack not only displays the top three results as defined by its own algorithms, but all three must be verified by Google.
How does one become verified by Google for the Local Trust pack? Ultimately, there are two somewhat comparable services: Google Guaranteed and Google Screened.
Google Guaranteed can be thought of in many ways as the “layman’s verification”. Google Guaranteed is used for home service providers (think plumbers, cleaners, movers, electricians, and so forth).
Google Screened is used for professional services, such as lawyers, accountants and real estate agents. However, it is important to note that Google Screened (as of October 2020) does not yet feature green check-marks for each of the three Local Trust Pack listings in each SERP (instead, it features a single check-mark above the Local Pack, along with the words “Google Screened”).
What Is Involved in Being Verified by Google Guaranteed/Google Screened?
To become verified either via Google Guaranteed or Google Screened, be prepared for a complex and lengthy process. Businesses must submit a variety of documents and information before even being eligible for such consideration. These documents include documents of your company or corporation, proof of personal and/or corporate insurance, as well as a number of certifications or credentials relevant to your niche or industry.
From there, said documents must be verified by third-party sources. Due to this dynamic, it can often take weeks or even months for businesses to become fully verified and ready for Local Trust pack listings. In large part, this lengthy and complex verification process is due to the fact that Google promises up to $2,000 per business in covering any dissatisfaction a customer has with a Local Trust pack-listed brand.
What Information Is Shown in Local Trust Pack Listings?
Given the nature of Local Trust pack listings and how they are tightly controlled, you don’t necessarily have the same versatility over how your business appears as in other types of ads. However, there are a number of variables and elements that can potentially be displayed for your listing.
Some common examples include your Google reviews and overall rating, phone number, address, business hours and/or length of duration in business. Local Trust pack listings focus on traditional businesses and feature phone numbers; this is for a specific reason (more below). As such, having a telephone number through which to generate leads is paramount to the Local Trust pack experience.
How Are LSAs via Local Trust Pack Billed?
While platforms such as Google AdWords can be customized and generally revolve around PPC (pay per click) advertising, Google Local Services Ads use a different model. As mentioned above, the use of phone numbers is crucial for LSA listings. Why? Because businesses are billed based on each telephone call received.
This cost-per-call model ensures more relevant billing. Rather than relying upon impressions or clicks, businesses are only billed when somebody dials your listed telephone number. This leads to more relevant leads and billing, avoiding that excess waste of targeting – and paying for – audiences not interested in your business offerings.
Furthermore, given Local Trust pack lists elements such as how long your business has operated, your hours of operation and reviews/rating, the leads generated through such services are more likely to be both qualified and directed to your business when somebody is there to directly speak in person.
Ultimately, Google’s Local Trust Pack is a revolution for businesses engaged in search engine marketing. While there are some obstacles to overcome in the process of becoming verified, many local businesses will find this solution to be a valuable commodity in expanding exposure and garnering new, qualified leads.