If you’re working with Service Area Businesses (SABs) or professional services, you’ve no doubt been asked about Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs). In this ultimate guide to LSAs, contributor Tom Waddington breaks down where these new ads came from, where they’re headed next, and how to get the most from them.
What Are Google Local Services Ads?
Google Local Services is a pay-per-lead advertising platform that Google began expanding to several new verticals and markets outside of California in mid-2017.
A Brief History of Local Services Ads
The product was initially called “Home Services ads” and began as a beta test in the San Francisco area in 2015. Businesses that appeared in these Home Services ads were required to complete a screening process to make sure relevant insurance and licensing requirements were met. Criminal background checks for employees were also required as part of Google’s screening process.
When looking for a contractor through Home Service ads, consumers could either call a business directly or select up to three businesses from the list to request individual quotes for comparison. The look and process has changed since then: a consumer no longer has options to request an online quote from a single business or select multiple businesses to request simultaneous quotes. Currently, the only way to contact businesses to compare service quotes is to call them.
Google expanded the program to markets outside of California in 2017, and rebranded: “Home Service ads” became “Local Services ads” (LSA). The look and process has continued to evolve during the expansion, but one constant has remained. In order for a business to be “Google Guaranteed”, they must pass Google’s screening process. This process continues the practices of license and insurance verification, as well as employee background checks performed by Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations. All employees that serve customers at their homes must complete background checks for the business to earn the “Google Guaranteed” badge.
In addition to knowing these businesses have passed Google’s screening process, consumers that hire a “Google Guaranteed” business through a Local Services ad receive a satisfaction guarantee backed by Google. If they are not satisfied with work quality, Google will cover claims up to the job invoice amount (with a lifetime cap of $2,000).
When and where in the search results do Google’s Local Services Ads appear?
Keywords relevant to Local Service ad categories will typically trigger the ads, which appear at the top of the search results (above AdWords and the map 3-pack) on both desktop and mobile. The main ad format allows companies to display only their company name, review rating, city, phone number, and hours of operation.
Companies that benefit the most from this ad format will most likely be those that are able to maintain a high relative review rating combined with strong brand awareness in their local markets.
Local Services Ads Appearance on Desktop
Local Services Ads Appearance on Mobile
On the initial search result, you will see three Google Local Services ads on desktop and two Google Local Service ads on mobile. Clicking on the “More plumbers” link will take you to a separate page showing a full list of both paid and free business listings in the Local Services ad unit.
How much do Local Services Ad leads cost?
Businesses set a weekly budget and are charged on a per lead basis. The lead cost is a set rate that varies depending on the category and market (from $5-$139 per lead). On the low end, locksmith leads in a few markets are $5, but at the high end water damage restoration leads in Tampa are $139. The average cost overall is around $24 per lead.
Leads obtained by listings that aren’t “Google Guaranteed”, either because they’re advertisers that have their ad paused or they’re free listings, will not be charged for leads.
The number of paid listings in a market and within specific categories can vary greatly. Some searches may result in only one or two listings, while others may have more than twenty. There are no limitations to the number of advertisers that may be included in a particular market or category. Obviously, the fewer number of advertisers there are, the more leads those businesses are going to get. Some participating businesses may be receiving a large volume of leads while others may only be getting a few.
In September 2020, Google added a bidding option for some LSA home services accounts. This is likely to be further rolled out in the future.
Can a business choose which keywords to target with Local Services Ads?
No. Businesses are not able to designate which keywords to target. Instead, they select categories or “job types” that indicate the type of services and products they offer. Google decides which keywords are relevant for those job types and a business’s ad will appear based upon the service areas and job types the company selected. Google does not provide any keyword data to show which keywords are triggering ads, or which keywords are generating leads.
What happens when a company pauses its ads?
When a participating business has its ad paused, it doesn’t remove its ad from the search results, but the business’s “Google Guaranteed” badge and label will not be present and the paused listing will be placed below any paid listings.
It is easy for a business to pause and reactivate their ad via the Google Local Services dashboard or app, and businesses are not charged for leads while their ad is paused.
Is setting up Google Local Services ads worth it?
Absolutely. There’s no cost to sign up or obligation to participate. The on-boarding process can be cumbersome, but once enrolled, a company will be able to objectively determine whether it’s a good fit for their business. Considering the priority placement of the ads, the relatively low cost of the leads, and the absence of additional costs or obligations to join should make enrollment an easy decision for any business.
If a company determines that the program is not a good fit among their advertising strategies, they can pause the ad and no longer incur costs. Their listing will simply be placed among the free listings in a section below the paid listings and its placement will likely remain more visible than non-participating companies in the area.
Which cities and categories currently have Local Services ads running?
Local Services categories are now available nationwide in the United States with the exception of a few limited testing categories. There are also four categories available to businesses in Canada.
In September 2020, Local Services Ads began rolling out to more countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Take a look at the tables below to see all Google Local Services ads categories in the US and Canada.