Yelp and Angie’s List once dominated the local services space. That’s starting to change, however, as Facebook, Amazon, and Google Home Services have all made recent moves to compete with these long-time dominant players. Here’s what you need to know about how these emerging competing services could affect your local business.
How Facebook, Amazon, and Google are Entering the Local Services Arena
In July 2015, Amazon emerged with its Home Services offering, a marketplace aiming to aid users searching for local businesses like plumbers, painters, electricians, and similar services on its platform that once primarily focused on physical and digital goods. While Amazon’s marketplace isn’t yet available everywhere, it features more than 15 million listings covering 900 different types of services, according to a report by TechCrunch.
Google followed suit shortly after, introducing an addition to its sponsored results offered through its paid app, AdWords Express, designed for small businesses. According to the Wall Street Journal, businesses pay to be included among the first results and are connected with potential customers after being screened by Google. Google’s key differentiator is that it allows consumers to make requests and place calls to businesses directly from the search listings, which is a convenient option for consumers in urgent situations.
In late 2015, Facebook also made a similar move, but further differentiates its offering by encompassing all types of local businesses, rather than just home-related services. Businesses such as pet services, automotive services, and spas and salons can all take advantage of Facebook’s local business features to reach a broader audience.
Amazon, Google, and Facebook Local Service Rankings
In the simplest sense, new options for reaching a broader portion of your local target market through additional platforms is a good thing for home services businesses, but it’s not exactly clear just yet how home services companies can best optimize for these emerging platforms. Facebook, for instance, doesn’t appear to show relevant local businesses with the most ratings and reviews at the top, indicating that rankings might be based on additional factors such as the user’s previous interests and behavior.
To qualify as a provider to be listed in Google’s Home Services results, businesses must pass a thorough screening process including a background check, proof of insurances and licenses, and even mystery shopping. While these requirements shouldn’t be a problem for legitimate businesses, it’s definitely another hurdle to cross to gain visibility on the platform.
On Amazon, you can expect to pay a 10% to 20% cut of your service fees to the platform for serving as the “middleman” for the transaction and bringing customers to your door. You’ll also need to pass background checks and customer service audits to gain approval for Amazon’s marketplace, and you’ll compete with other providers for the top rankings on price, customer ratings, and other factors. While Amazon serves as a moderator for disputes and may refund a customer’s purchase in some circumstances, such disputes could damage the company’s rating and impact future rankings in searches.
The Bottom Line: What This Means for Home Services Providers
A number of startups have attempted to enter the home services space, but with giants the likes of Facebook, Google, and Amazon staking their claim, it’s a tough sell for a newbie. After all, these platforms have the advantage of an already-robust audience on which they have massive amounts of data. And by capitalizing on their existing audience bases, it’s likely that these mega-platforms are here to stay.
There are some strategies for optimizing your listings for Facebook, Google, and Amazon in their respective local services markets, though it’s not yet a perfect science. Providing proof of your licenses and insurance is a good place to start, but you should also select the most relevant categories and subcategories for your listing. On Facebook, those same categories should also be listed on your Facebook business page.
Provide as much information as you can – a description of your business, your physical address, services areas, and so forth – all of which will help any platform determine which consumers would have an interest in your services. Enable customers to “check-in” to your business on Facebook, and enable (and encourage) ratings and reviews. Offer multiple ways for customers to reach you. And on every platform where your business is listed, ensuring that your listing is always up-to-date (along with your relevant local business profiles, where applicable).
Home services companies don’t have to fret over these new opportunities. The LeadBuilder® team of social media, local search, and online reputation management (ORM) experts are keeping an eye on these platforms and are actively testing them. As they evolve, we’ll work to optimize your brand’s visibility across all these platforms so your local business can stay ahead of the pack. We stay up-to-date on industry trends and predictions so your business never misses a beat.
Andrea Carollo is a Junior Digital Strategist at Mediagistic. Connect with her on Linkedin