Google Local Services Ads for attorneys, real estate agents and financial planners have been present in the San Diego and Houston areas since May 2019, but something absent from these listings has been a Google Guaranteed badge or something to indicate which businesses have passed Google’s screening process. The solution Google has come up with is called “Google Screened“.
Here’s an example of how the Google Screened Local Services ads with profile photos look on mobile:
Previous example on desktop:
Since the Google Guarantee does not apply to lawyers, real estate agents and financial planners, it makes sense they come up with something to make paid listings to stand out from the free listings.
Similar to a “Google Guaranteed” business, a “Google Screened” business is one that has passed Google’s background and license checks. There is a business-level background check as well as a business-owner background check. Each professional in the business (each individual lawyer, real estate agent or financial planner) must also pass a license and background check. An additional twist that is required to get the “Google Screened” icon is that the business must have a 3.0 rating or higher. It states there is an exception for financial planners, however. They may still receive a Google Screened badge without any customer reviews.
The main difference between a “Google Guaranteed” business and a “Google Screened” business is that Google is not offering a money-back guarantee for the screened businesses. And this new badge is currently only in law, financial planning and real estate categories. So you will not see some Google Guaranteed and Google Screened listings in the same search result.
I think the Google Screened icon addition is an indication that Google is planning on taking Local Services ads into more verticals and markets. Not having to offer a guarantee opens it up to more types of businesses and having a green checkmark with a “Google Screened” label will still be enough to encourage more businesses to sign up for Local Services Ads… errr, I mean, it will be enough to help consumers feel safe when hiring a business they find on Google.