Google is currently testing a new search feature which allows users to access home-services more easily. This means that people could soon discover the most suitable plumber, home cleaner or electrician, at the click of a button.
As a Google representative has stated, ’From unclogging the bathroom sink to getting back into a locked apartment, there are moments throughout the day when people need a quick solution to a big problem.’
In order to provide a personalized, trustworthy way of dealing with these unavoidable annoyances, the company has designed an extremely helpful feature, which may one day become indispensable to many of its users.
At the moment, this addition to Google’s comprehesive search engine is available only in the San Francisco area. Clients have the option to see former ratings, read in-depth reviews, request a particular service or contact the business directly for queries and further information. This way, they can more easily connect with service providers and save up valuable time.
Aside from the benefits it offers regular Google users, the addition is also useful advertising tool for local businesses. Ads from locksmiths, plumbers, repairmen, electricians and home cleaners appear in special boxes, above the search results section. The service-operators selected to be included in the listings are pre-screened and qualified by Google, thus ensuring a high degree of craftsmanship and increasing reliability and good performance.
The technology is actually part of AdWords Express, Google’s paid app targeting small businesses. Servicemen have to pay a fee, in order to submit advertisements scheduled to appear in Google’s sponsored results. Aside from this monetary contribution, the professionals also have to be carefully selected through procedures such as background, insurance and license checks, in addition to mystery shopping.
Google’s move puts the search engine giant in direct competition with more established home-services providers, such as Angie’s List Inc., TaskRabbit and Yelp Inc. Recently, Amazon has also entered this dynamic market in March, launching a directory listing home professionals from 41 cities. This growing rivalry suggests the field promises to become exciting and profitable.
After all, in 2011 Angie’s List estimated the local services market at a staggering $400 billion. Thus, it’s not surprising that many startups such as pro.com or porch.com have also been vying to grab a slice of the market. Nevertheless, such ventures have not always proven successful. In July, Homejoy Inc., a San Francisco-based startup operating in 35 cities went out of business as a consequence of `many unresolved challenges in the home services space’. It’s just a matter of time to see how well Google will fare in comparison to its main competitors.
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