Google Flirts with Local Search Monetization

How would you feel about competitors’ ads running in your local listings? Late last month, agencies specializing in local search marketing noticed just that: paid ads in their clients’ carefully maintained local business profiles on Google.

Search Engine Land reports that the ads are part of ‘Local Campaigns,’ which, according to Google, make it “easy to promote your stores across Google’s largest properties including the Google Search Network, Maps, YouTube, and the Google Display Network.”

The ads aren’t common (yet) but their presence may make it more difficult for businesses to stand out via organic local search marketing strategies. This will sound familiar to anyone with experience in the SEO industry: as Google’s paid search business has grown, it has become more and more difficult for websites to maintain organic visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). Google has increased not only the number of paid text ads that appear toward the top of each page, but also claimed more real estate for itself in the form of featured snippets, local pack results, Google Shopping displays, and more.

The ads’ appearance is a reminder that businesses do not own their local search presence, as Search Engine Land points out: “It’s Google’s property, just as Facebook owns and controls local Facebook Pages. This is something that businesses should be sober about. However, Google must also be mindful of too-aggressive monetization of local.”

As a Google Premier Partner local search marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media can help you identify opportunities to reach new customers via local search. However, as more businesses begin to prioritize this important digital marketing stream, expect Google to ramp up competition for local search real estate. Paid search ads in competitors’ local business profiles may be the first in a long line of monetization experiments from Google in coming years.


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