Google testing $50 monthly fee for ‘Google Guaranteed’ badge in organic GMB local search results

The 'Google Guaranteed' consumer protection program has been reserved for businesses using Google Ads. Google has started testing making the badge available to profiles using Google My Business (GMB) for a fee.

Google Ads provides a consumer protection service called Google Guaranteed. Local businesses that use the advertising platform can apply for the program. If they are approved, a green checkmark appears next to the listing on Google surfaces, and an audible confirmation is used for audio searches on Google Assistant or Google Home.

On July 22, 2020, Tom Waddington, a Google My Business Gold Product Expert, noticed that Google was offering the Google Guarantee badge as a profile upgrade for Google My Business (GMB) to one of his clients. He tweeted a screenshot of the offer and had this to say about it:

Google is starting to offer an upgraded Business Profile (Google My Business listing) for $50/month that will add the Google Guaranteed badge to the listing and back services the business provides with the Google Guarantee.

Tom Waddington
Google Guaranteed business profile upgrade
Business profile upgrade offer for Google Guaranteed badge

Other GMB users weren’t able to replicate the offer, but Google acknowledged to Search Engine Land that they were testing the new offer.

We are always testing new ways to improve our experience for our advertisers, merchants, and users. This experiment will show the Google Guaranteed badge on the business profile. We don’t have anything additional to announce right now.

Google spokesperson

Why is Google charging to use the Google Guarantee badge for GMB profiles?

Google Guarantee has been a value-added service for businesses that use its ad platform. The amount of money that Google gets through advertising and pay-for-lead fees should easily cover the expense of verifying businesses and servicing the program’s consumer protections.

Since businesses that manage GMB profiles aren’t required to use Google Ads, the $50/mo price may be meant to cover the costs that are usually covered by advertising fees.

Waddington told Coywolf News that, “there are similarities with Yelp’s Verified License badge offering, which is about $30/month.” However, he said the most significant difference between Yelp’s program and Google’s, is that “Yelp does not back the business with a guarantee with their program. They’re just performing a check to see if the business has the necessary license for their trade in their area.”

However, Waddington thinks the fee has more to do with promoting ads, not covering costs.

Increasing revenue is the primary motivation for it. It is not only for the monthly fee itself but also for expanding Google’s advertiser base and getting more businesses interested in and familiar with Local Services ads, their pay-per-lead advertising platform. They’ll also be able to say they’re helping bring more confidence and peace of mind to consumers searching for trustworthy service providers on Google.

I asked him if he thought this marked a shift by Google to start having businesses pay for better visibility and placement in local results. He said, “They have been working on monetizing local more for quite a while now, but a monthly fee is a significant change in the approach.”

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Jon is the founder and Managing Editor of Coywolf. He has over 25 years of experience in web development, SaaS, internet strategy, digital marketing, and entrepreneurship. Follow @henshaw