The New Google Screened Badge is Changing Digital Advertising — Here’s Why

The New Google Screened Badge is Changing Digital Advertising — Here’s Why

Every real estate agent should make it a priority to get their Google Screened badge as soon as possible. Here, we’ll cover the top questions real estate agents have about the Google Screened badge:

Google has slowly been adjusting its search results pages – specifically the first page — over the last few years to make itself a bigger competitor for top-of-the-funnel advertising tactics. Instead of sending people away to other websites, Google wants its users to find the info they need without very much clicking or scrolling.

Just take a look at how Google has evolved its strategy recently: First, you could only run a paid search ad that appeared at the top of search results. Then, Google introduced the Google business profile to give relevant businesses prime real estate at the top of Google. Then you could connect your search ad to your Google business profile to unlock a Google Maps ad.

There have also been adjustments so searches are hyperlocal (two people across the country searching “top real estate agents” will see different results), and the introduction of “snippets” so searchers can instantly see answers to common questions related to their search without ever clicking into a website.

Now, real estate agents can run Local Services Ads, which appear at the very top of the search results page — even above paid search ads — and deliver live phone call leads. They can also include a powerful endorsement from the search giant itself: the coveted Google Screened badge. 

Unlike a traditional ad, the Google Screened badge can’t be obtained in just a couple clicks, and Google won’t endorse just anyone. The badge is tougher to get because you have to go through a screening process, but it’s worth it because Google rewards badge owners with more live phone call leads.

This gives savvy digital advertisers a huge advantage, because they can unlock a clear path to better ROI without paying anything extra, except a tiny bit more of their time to push some digital paperwork through.

If Google has taught us anything, it’s that its users adapt fast to these interface and experience changes, and quickly alter their search behavior accordingly. As the Google Screened badge continues to expand into other industries, users will only grow more and more likely to call Google Screened businesses that are right at the top of the page.

That’s why, even though it takes a little effort, claiming your Google Screened badge right now is worth it.

What is a Google Screened badge?

The Google Screened badge is a green checkmark and designation applied to Google’s new Local Services Ads. Right now, the badge is only available to a few professional service providers: those in law, financial planning, and real estate. Each ad prominently displays the advertiser’s headshot, star rating, and review count, as well as a click-to-call feature that drives direct phone call leads to businesses.

Not all Local Services Ads receive the badge, and that’s because you need to apply for it and get approved. It’s an involved process that requires agents to allow Google to conduct business-level and business-owner background checks. This is how Google does its due diligence to ensure that its most esteemed advertisers are, in fact, licensed real estate agents. Once the vetting process is complete, you’ll automatically be ranked over every non-screened agent in your market.

Why do I need a Google Screened badge?

Google continues to adapt its platforms to give users the most relevant search results higher and higher on the page. You’ve seen traditional SEO continue to evolve (just look at the organic featured snippets and FAQs that now appear near the top of search results), and that’s because users expect the best information to appear first.

By placing its Local Services Ads at the very top — the most sought-after placement — Google is telling consumers that these are worth paying attention to. And, Google is telling advertisers that this is where it’s investing its time and resources.

As such, Local Services Ads provide one of the lowest-friction experiences available today. Its prime placement makes it easily seen and accessible, and it offers a hassle-free click-to-call feature. The addition of the Google Screened badge not only boosts trust in the eyes of consumers — like a digital referral — but Google really does prioritize vetted advertisers above those who do not have the badge.

Local Services Ads combined with the Google Screened badge create a one-of-a-kind ad unit. It’s essentially a combination of a top-of-the-funnel ad (when consumers first become aware of your business) and a bottom-of-the-funnel ad (when consumers are ready to take action). That’s because someone could search for “real estate agents in Seattle” instead of a specific agent, get served a list of Google Screened results — seeing these specific agents and their five-star ratings for the first time — and then tap an ad to call one of the verified agents.

Within a single search experience, you can be discovered for the first time and immediately contacted, thanks to the high level of trust that users have in Google to screen and recommend businesses.

This new ad type presents real estate agents with a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what will undoubtedly become an important and highly competitive advertising space across industries. 

How can a Google Screened badge help me get more live phone call leads than my competitors?

The Google Screened badge is exclusive. Since you need to go through a traditional background check process to get approved, it puts you on a different level from other agents. This requires more effort, but it also gives you a competitive advantage when you’re trying to win new business because Google sends more leads to agents with a Google Screened badge.

Our data also show that the leads generated from Google’s Local Services Ads are highly qualified. For instance, 1 in 2 leads is an actual buyer or seller, and 1 in 10 leads is a seller lead. Plus, you can dispute bad leads with Google and win that budget back, creating a more efficient advertising strategy and ROI than your competitors.

Agents who get in early will outpace their competition, as they’ll have a head start in building trust with Google. The company rewards advertisers who invest in its products and provide a good client experience. When you already have good reviews and a high star rating and then also earn the Google Screened badge, it’s a signal to consumers that you are trustworthy, which Google knows will lead to more live phone calls.

The more phone calls you answer, the happier Google is with the experience you’re providing to consumers. As a result, the search giant will optimize your ad for more phone calls. 

This creates a merit-based system where agents control their own destiny, so other agents can’t simply outbid you for exposure. If you get screened and earn a Google Screened badge, consistently get five-star Google reviews, and answer when those leads call, you’ll quickly outpace your competition.  

How do I apply for a Google Screened badge?

We mentioned earlier that the application process is more involved than any other advertising product on the market. But that should not deter you at all. As one of the only professional service sectors that can apply right now, real estate agents should be running—not walking—to earn the Google Screened badge. THIS is the ground floor if you act quickly, like buying Amazon stock decades ago for $10.

Navigating the application process on your own can feel intimidating. Homesnap Concierge makes it easier for real estate agents as one of Google’s only trusted third-party partners. When you work with us, you’re assigned a dedicated success manager who will coach you through the process, letting you know what information to provide, which specific documents to submit, and when to take the next step. Your success manager will ensure you don’t miss a beat and are able to earn the badge as soon as possible. 

Another important part of the process that real estate agents should be aware of is the requirement of having a verified Google business profile with at least one review. Details from your profile are linked to your Local Services Ads and badge, and Google also uses that information to determine when to serve your ad in search results. As a Google preferred partner, Homesnap Concierge is able to expedite Google business profile verification process for our agents — which can otherwise add weeks to the process.

And finally, our Concierge specialists vet every phone call lead and dispute bad leads on your behalf — so you can be sure your ad budget is always being invested in quality leads.

What should agents do next? 

It’s bound to be a hot summer for residential real estate. Home-buying demand remains strong and inventory could expand as states loosen COVID restrictions and give us a glimpse of a return to normal on the horizon. Now is the time to invest on an advertising strategy that will bring you high-intent, qualified leads by phone.

Contact a Homesnap Concierge team member to schedule an exploratory meeting and learn how to earn your badge and increase your lead volume.