Google Home Services Changes, HomeAdvisor / Angie’s List merger, Facebook will penalize slow websites, and more!

There have been a couple of big news items recently. First, Google updated their Home Services platform and the HomeAdvisor / Angie’s List merger. Also, Facebook will penalize slow websites soon. Lastly, Google just released a new tool for displaying online reviews.

BTW, if you’re a VIP member, be sure to log in to the VIP area for the full Office Hours session video where we also go step-by-step through the structure of a perfect local website. We answered all of the following questions in the session:

  • How should you structure the site?
  • What is the objective of the site?
  • What should go on the home page?
  • How do you structure a good location page?
  • What are some of the key differences between websites for single and multi-location businesses.

Google Home Services, HomeAdvisor/Angie’s List Merger, Facebook Penalizing Slow Websites, and New Google Reviews Feature Transcript

ERIC SHANFELT:

Welcome to this week’s Office Hours. We’re going to start with our local marketing update, just some things that happened in the last week that I think you’re going to find very interesting to discuss. Let’s just start out right out of the gate, and I’m going to go in here. Let’s take a look at what we got here. There we go. By the way, I wanted to share this with you guys. I’m going to start something here with Office Hours. Since Office Hours is on Friday at three o’clock, basically beer o’clock on Friday, I’m a fan of micro brews, I’m going to bring a different craft beer I think every week to this Office Hours. This week I’m bringing one of my favorites from Odell’s, it’s this Braun beer, as you can see up there. There you go. It’s their Blackberry Gose, so if you’ve ever tried a Gose, it’s sour, it’s absolutely amazing. So hope you guys don’t mind if I indulge a little bit here while we’re going through the Office Hours. That’s good stuff. All right, let’s dive in here.

First thing I wanted to go through is an article that I saw on Mike Blumenthal’s blog. If you haven’t, go follow Mike Blumenthal, fantastic guy that you want to follow, this guy really knows his stuff. He really is one of the godfathers of the local marketing industry. But he wrote, had a guest post from Dave Squires. Dave Squires runs Online Access, it’s a company that works with HVAC, and plumbing contractors, and Dave really went into detail about Google Home Services. So if you don’t know much about Google Home Services, this is the ability for you to actually sell services directly through Google. Sounds pretty straightforward. But as you can see like right here, someone does “locked out in San Diego” as an example, this is, as an example, straight from the Google AdWords website right there. We do “locked out in San Diego”, you’ll see that even above the normal ad words, there’s these Home Services ads, right. Home Services ads talking about specific Home Service providers and you can call them directly.

So if you weren’t aware of this, I think it’s something very important for you to be aware of. We’ll put a link to this in the post. Let me put it on the website here, but it’s just an extension, really, of AdWords. And you can see here, I’m talking specifically about Home Service ads. We’re not going have time during this little quick session here to go over how it all works. We may have a whole separate Office Hours section going about the Home Services sector. But I wanted to bring this out to you here because it’s important that you know about this. The Home Services sector is going be growing, another story here in a second, that we’re talking about another Home Services business. But as you put these ads under certain qualifications, you have to do right now, I think Google’s charging like 25 dollars a lead, that comes through. There’s other issues that happen with this here, it’s in limited geographic areas. I think right now, they were saying that, you know, it’s kind of in East Coast, it’s Philadelphia.

So they just extended to Philadelphia but they’ve been in other places as well. They’re certainly on the West Coast. So they’re slowly- Atlanta, I think is another place. They’re slowly moving out into other areas, and they’re also expanding, right. So they were originally focusing on like, plumbers, locksmiths, and they’ve now moved into hand-in-hand, painting, HVAC, electricians, other kind of home service type business, so Google’s making a very active push. Matter of fact, if you look, take a look for air conditioning repair in San Francisco, you’ll see right there. This is live, on the web and you can see right there, there’s the home services. So this is going be rolling out a lot bigger over time. Do read this article, though, from Dave Squires on Mike Blumenthal’s blog. I’ll put a link to this as well.

Think you’ll find it really, really, enlightening on what’s going on here and how to use that. So that’s just something to make you aware of, if you weren’t already doing this, taking advantage of Home Services ads for your business or for your clients, something really to take advantage of here.

I’m going go a little deeper here though, because there’s other home service businesses out there, right, so there’s Angie’s List, and there’s HomeAdvisor. Well, guess what. This is interesting, because this actually happened back in May, but a lot of people may not have realized this, but with the expansion of what Google’s doing with Home Services, I thought it’d be good to talk about how HomeAdvisor, actually, HomeAdvisor’s parent company, IAC, is buying Angie’s List. So this is a pretty big, pretty big deal here.

I think it was in the neighborhood of 500 million dollars, so don’t feel bad for Angie, she’s walking away with some good money on this, but HomeAdvisor’s actually acquiring Angie’s List. My understanding is that they’re going to continue to operate the two sites and two brands relatively independently, and actually, Angie’s List will report in to HomeAdvisor’s CEO at the corporate headquarters, which happens to be in Golden, Colorado, right here in my home state. So again, a huge deal here. Like I said, we’re going have a whole separate Office Hours session. We’re going to go really deep into the Home Services sector. Not just Google Home Service ads, but also talking about HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List, and then there’s another major player that a lot of people don’t realize is in the Home Services space, and that’s Amazon.

Yes, believe it or not, you can actually now sell and market your home services on Amazon, so if you’re HVAC plumber, electrician, lawn care, home cleaning, computers and electronics, like getting into home theater setup or home networks, you can sell it on Amazon as well. They’re not pushing it too big yet, but you can bet that they will. So we’ll give you the link to the customer-facing side of this. This way is just amazon.com/amazon-home-services, and walk through it. I think you’d be actually very interested. Go it through and try to pretend like you’re going to get a quote. You don’t actually have to consummate the deal, but walk on through and you’ll see how it works. We’ll put a link up there as well to the place where you actually sign up to become a service provider on Amazon. So again, not a lot to go into right now, because this is a whole session in and of itself. We’re going to go deep and I’ll try to get a couple people into help, help talk to us about this.

But I wanted to make you aware that the home services sector is really heating up with Google’s recent expansion, the acquisition, and of course, what Amazon is doing here as well. Now there’s pluses and minuses to all of these. For example, Amazon actually retains relationship with the customer. That’s not attractive to a lot of businesses. Google, I think, they’re actually retaining a relationship with the customer for 15 days. We’ll go into a lot more detail when we do our next major Office Hours session. So that’s the big news on the Home Services front.

I wanted to bring out another story to you guys, I think would be, was kind of important, and that’s going into Facebook. We talked a lot about site speed, right, and we’re going to go into site speed here in our more in-depth session. But site speed, as you know, is critically important to a local business website, and not only is Google now giving preference to fast sites, but now Facebook is as well.

So this is important because as you’re going through your feed on Facebook, and you’re looking at various posts, if your website is slow, and there happens to be a post that links to your website, Google is now going to rank that post lower. So your site speed again is just more important, this is why I always say, “You wouldn’t print your marketing brochure or your catalog or whatever it may happen to be on toilet paper, don’t do your website on cheap hosting.” Make sure your website really works well, really runs fast. So again, we’ll post the link to this article out here, but they also have a best practices guide that’s coming out here, that sites can use to reduce page load speed, so we’ll get more into some of that a little bit later on, but again, key thing again, it’s the need to be fast, and need to be mobile-responsive. So we will talk a lot more about websites here on a more in-depth session.

Last thing I want to show you is a really cool tool. I want to thank the folks over at Get Five Stars, they posted about this here, but this is just a fun little tool. You can use it for almost any business. It’s smallthanks.withgoogle.com, so really what it is, this is a way you can turn your Google reviews into printable posters for your business. So just a fun little tool on here, since I’m using Odell on here. Let’s just do a search for Odell Brewing Company, there we go. So just do a quick little search, so find your favorite business out here, and goes through, tries to find all of your various reviews and bring them up. Let’s see how long this whole process takes, it’s a good opportunity to take another drink. Creating my posters. All right. Here we go. So it’s taking reviews, took up only the five-star reviews from your website, and it’s creating some posters for you here. Right, select here, this is “By far my favorite brewery in the entire world,” “Great tasting, clean, approach beers,” you can choose different ones that you may want to do. But you also have the ability to customize your thing.

So let’s do “By far my favorite brewery in the entire world,” that’s just a great one to use. You choose a layout. Again, it’s really simple, not a lot of options, let’s just choose this layout. Click next, and it’s going to create different views of the posters and then you can change the colors. Let’s say you wanted to change the color of this and make it a blue background instead of a white background, so it’s really limited in terms of what you can do. You can change it from green to red. Over here, actually, I kind of like the green better. Once you got it done, you can look at it one more closely if you want. Again, it shows the company, the review quote, who posted it, it was a five-star review, and it says, “Hey, support us with your review on Google.” There you go. So you can print this out, let’s take the next step. And there we go.

Now you can actually click the “get print asset” button, and it will download a high-res PDF you can take to local printer, print it out, post it however you want, use at your website, use at your location, actually. And then you can go ahead and you can share this on social media, if you want as well. So just a cool little tool I wanted to bring out for you guys. That kinda does it for the update section of the Office Hours. If you’re not a VIP, we’re going to end it here. If you are a VIP though, we’re going to go in-depth now into how to structure and create the perfect local business website, so if you’re not a VIP, I recommend you just go ahead and sign up. It’s by far, worth your money if I do say so myself. If you are a VIP, hang on here for a second and we’re going to go right into that section of our Office Hours.

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Eric is the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. He has 25 years of experience in digital marketing and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several B2B and consumer media companies. Eric has a passion for local businesses and focuses on practical digital strategies to help them attract more customers, build customer loyalty, and grow their business.