Google has announced its roll out of an upgrade to local Google business listings called Google Guarantee. For $50/month, businesses can get the highly sought after check mark verification (also used by Twitter and Instagram for famous people's- whoops, I mean verified accounts). The badge of honor aims to show customers that your business has been vetted by Google to instill greater confidence for the end user during their shopping experience. In addition to paying the monthly fee, businesses will be required to provide licensing, insurance, and background checks to be "Guaranteed." The change brings up three interesting ideas as it relates to digital marketing and multifamily ads:
Revenue- For all of the local businesses out there, an additional $50/month from each local listing would lead to some serious revenue for Google. Search Engine Land claims that if only 2 million companies paid for this service it would equate to over $1.2 billion in revenue.
2. Voice Search- For Voice Search, Guaranteed Badges and Local Ads have led to
increased performance for voice searches on Google devices. Properties who pay the
$50/month fee and achieve Guaranteed status will be more likely suggested as options
in voice search results. Google will have vetted Guaranteed businesses as legitimate
and, therefore, will be more confident to serve these communities up in the search
results to create a better user experience. As voice search is predicted to become a
more central point of our lives in the years to come, Guaranteed listings could evolve
into a necessity for multifamily properties in the near future.
3. Online Reputation- The significance of online reviews has skyrocketed in recent years
as part of the consumer buying process. What's a bit odd, is shoppers have come to
trust complete strangers when they consider whether or not to make a purchase.
Google's vetting process throughout the Guaranteed certification will add another layer
to small business and property reputations- perhaps even diminishing the importance of
strangers' reviews. With a trusted source like Google conducting in depth background
checks, consumers will likely be more trusting of those who have the highly sought after
check mark next to their name as "Guaranteed" vendors. Although previous beta tests
have not led to significant increases in click through rate for those are who Guaranteed,
it certainly could be the case if the paid verification catches on.
All in all, it will be interesting to see how quickly the Guaranteed listing gets adopted. This will be heavily dependent on how easy or difficult it is to go through the verification process. Google will have to provide incentive for small businesses and multifamily communities to pay the monthly fee in order for Guaranteed to take flight, which is why it is likely that increase CTR and/or increased voice search performance is likely to come for those who have the badge. While voice search hasn't taken off quite as quickly in the highly visual multifamily industry, Google Guarantee may have its most immediate impact on multifamily in the way of online reputation. By being Guaranteed, apartment communities will instill greater confidence in prospects during their apartment search and, thus, make prospects more likely to consider moving to those with the badge. Even with that in mind, Google will have to prove its value far greater for this to catch on. In the end, Guaranteed will likely evolve into an extension in Google Ads, so a check mark appears next to or below your PPC ad, making it more visual and more likely to be clicked on- aka increase click through rate. It's in Google's best interest to have this paid verification increase your digital ad performance.