Google is either testing or has introduced a “request quotes” button in local results. This was discovered by Tom Waddington; however I have not been able to reproduce it on mobile or the desktop.
Part of LSAs. The functionality comes as part of Local Services Ads (LSAs). Currently LSAs deliver phone leads to local businesses participating in the program. Local Services Ads require businesses to be “Google Guaranteed” and pass licensing, insurance and background checks.
‘Request Quotes’ button above 3-pack. Lets users request quotes from multiple businesses using messaging. The Google Guaranteed badge shows for businesses participating in Local Services ads pic.twitter.com/PiYo07I6d1
— Tom Waddington (@tomwaddington8) December 17, 2019
Uses GMB Messaging. This move, if it’s more than a test, represents another option for both businesses and consumers to connect and transact. There’s a relatively brief form — that probably doesn’t capture enough detail for many businesses to deliver a reliable price quote — that consumers complete before submission. It’s not clear how many businesses can be contacted; the image above shows three. (We’ve asked Google for comment and more information.)
The quote is delivered to the business via Google My Business (GMB) messaging. That requires business owners to download the GMB app, which might be part of Google’s motivation here. There have been complaints about GMB’s messaging functionality, following Google’s abandonment of traditional SMS-based messaging.
Why we care. The request quotes functionality is consistent with Google’s broader effort to make GMB an “engagement” and transactions platform. LSAs deliver unmistakable leads directly to the business and this is a logical extension of that mission.
As mentioned, the presentation above is potentially problematic because many businesses will need more information to deliver a meaningful price quote, which will require a home/site visit or call or an email exchange with pictures. (This was the original challenge for RedBeacon, acquired in 2012 by HomeDepot.)
Yelp has had a somewhat more developed request for quote feature since 2016.