Google Search is taking aim at one of the most influential consumer websites on the planet.
Watch out Yelp — Google is coming right for you.
Now, when consumers use Google’s search engine to look for terms like “lock repair” or “house cleaners,” they’ll get more than a series of links — they’ll also get businesses prescreened by Google that could be paired with potential clients, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
It will be an addition to sponsored results, and it was rolled out late this week in San Francisco. It’s a new feature that will put it in direct competition with popular user-driven consumer review site Yelp as well as new offerings from Amazon.com. Also, sites like Angie’s List and TaskRabbit will undoubtedly not be happy to hear this news.
It’s part of Google’s AdWords paid app for small businesses, and it was developed by the advertising technology team.
Servicemen pay to be ranked high in search results, and once Google screens and qualifies them, they are connected with potential customers.
Right now, the options are limited. In addition to only being available in San Francisco, it is limited to services like plumbers, house cleaners, and handymen. Participating small businesses have to get a license, insurance, and background checks to be included, and they must be subjected to mystery shopping from the search giant.
It’s a potentially huge market, with Angie’s List estimating in 2011 that the demand for local services amounted to about $400 billion total. Yelp has been dominating the market for home services information for a while now, but with Google getting into the game, their days as the dominant power may be numbered — for one thing, Yelp’s results will no longer show up at the top when people search for certain businesses.