Update: Google reached out to say that local Google Home voice search results based purely on relevancy, not paid advertising. Results may display from businesses that are signed up to Local Service ads, but no ads display in voice results on Google Home.
The ranking of local providers listed on the Assistant is based on relevancy and not monetized. Any local provider can become eligible to show up in those results by going through our verification process and earning the Google Guarantee badge — which is completely free. This experience is only available in the United States. – Google
To all those wondering how voice search will be monetised, we may have an answer. Reuters noticed that Google is displaying Local-Service ads when searching for local queries on voice search.
The issue is that these ads aren’t clearly labelled as advertisements. There’s discussion whether if the way these voice search results are displayed is deceiving consumers and violating the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Voice search “plumber” through your Google Home and you’ll be asked to confirm location. These results are given to you and your Google Home offers to call them in order, with this list also being sent to your email address.
You’ll find a list of plumbers in your inbox, with some being “Google Guaranteed” with a green badge. But what you might not realise is that these are actually ads.
Image: Search Engine Land
These Google Guaranteed results come from accounts that are signed up to Local Services, a tool that vets local domestic businesses. Being a part of this service means your service can be Google Guaranteed.
Google Guaranteed businesses are:
Customers can be refunded up to $2,000 if anything goes wrong.
Signing up to Google Guarantee is completely free, but businesses need to be signed up to it in order to pay for Local Service search ads. Reuters found that these guaranteed businesses typically target “plumber” keywords and other similar queries.
Do a similar search on your phone and the results will be clearly tagged as adverts, so why is Google doing this?
These results are more likely to get traffic as they’re backed by Google with a green-ticked shield badge and a guarantee. The “Homeadvisor screened” badge in comparison is an orange circle with a tick.
Out of these two badges, which seems to be more trustworthy and authoritative? Google’s badge. And especially with there being no advert labelling, users are much more likely to go with the ‘hidden’ ads.
And as these ads get more traffic, Google gets more money.
This is the first time we’ve seen Google monetising voice search, although it comes as no shock.
Will this change in the future? Or will Google still be able to display their guarantee badge in-lieu of an ad label? Let us know what you think in the comments, or tweet us @Honcho_Search.