What’s new and exciting with Google? Local Services Ads!
Google has decided to get into the professional resources directory business, and this is great news for businesses and business owners in the categories for which this service is available. Starting as primarily home services, these ads are meant to appeal to the need-it-now consumer.
What are Google Local Services Ads?
When someone enters a search query for one of the industries that are available, Google search results may show several professionals in their area. These ads are above the traditional paid ads for local searches and show pertinent information, such as a business phone number, hours, ratings, and reviews. For consumers, this means that they have easy access to the information they need right away. For advertisers, this means only local businesses are listed in this area, and they are not competing with national brands or service aggregators for real estate on the search page.
Once a searcher clicks on an advertiser’s listing, Google will prompt them to confirm the job type they are looking for as well as their location. If the business provides that job and serves that area, they will be matched to the searcher, allowing them to see qualifications, ratings, and reviews before making a phone call.
Let’s say the business is not a good fit – either they don’t offer that service or they don’t cover that location with their service area – then Google will connect the searcher to a different provider. This means fewer calls from people who cannot be your customer. And, best of all, that click doesn’t cost you anything because Local Services Ads are based on a cost per lead rather than a cost per click pricing model.
Google is going all in on these ads. Not only will they display on desktop, tablet, and mobile searches, but they will be features in the Google Assistant’s responses to voice requests for the appropriate services as well.
What categories are available for Local Services Ads?
Currently, Local Services Ads are available in the following categories:
Fully-supported and available in all active markets
- Garage Door Pros
- HVAC Pros
Available in some markets
- Air Duct Cleaners
- Appliance Repair Services
- Auto Glass Services
- Auto Service Technicians
- Carpet Cleaners
- Event Planners
- Handyman Services
- Junk Removal Providers
- Lawn Care Providers
- Pest Control Technicians
- Pet Care Providers
- Pet Groomers
- Roadside Assistance Services
- Tree Service Providers
- Upholstery Cleaners
- Water Damage Service Providers
- Window Cleaners
- Window Service Providers
Google is rolling Local Services Ads out in the US and currently covers most large metro areas and some small to mid-size communities. Once beta-testing was complete, the rollout was rather quick, so if the ads are not available in your area, they probably will be by the end of the year.
Why should I use Local Services Ads?
So, you’re thinking – what’s in it for me? Maybe you already pay for search ads, or your SEO is such that you show up in the local listings or high in the organic results. You might be perfectly happy with your search real estate. I suggest that you should at least consider this product and get yourself in a position to utilize them in case you change your mind. Let’s discuss the benefits.
Advertisers only pay per lead, not per click
For many of the verticals that Local Services Ads cover, the competition for paid ad space is very high, driving up the cost per click. So, when a searcher clicks through to your website and then bounces because your business isn’t quite the right fit for the job they want, you feel the pain (and expense) of being close, but not quite right. Local Services Ads have that second step of matching the job and location before sending the searcher through to the business. That means your business will only be charged if the lead is valid.
Local Services Ads come with the Google Guarantee badge, which is shown as a green checkmark. This does two things. It gives your business an endorsement from Google, which is a trusted resource for many searchers. It also backs up that endorsement with a $2000 lifetime refund offer if the customer is dissatisfied with the work they receive. I have spent years telling people that Google is a non-partisan resource, so this is a distinct edge that is not available for local businesses in any other way.
Put your reviews and ratings up front
Google no longer allows review extensions on your paid ads. There are other workarounds, like sitelink extensions linking to your reviews page, but this allows your reviews to become part of your ads again.
With the explosion of voice-activated devices, voice search has been growing steadily. This is a whole different way to get answers, and the tricks and tips you use to stand out on a search page are not helpful on a voice search. Local Services Ads are one of the few ways to guarantee that your business is available as an answer to search queries about your business type for Google Assistant searches.
They are super easy to manage!
Researching, setting up, testing, optimizing, and managing search campaigns is a lot of work. Doing it right means the difference between running an efficient and successful campaign or running a mediocre one. Local Services Ads don’t require any of that. Once you get your account set up and go through the initial approval process, Google will take care of the rest with information from your business profile.
How do I get started with Local Services Ads?
There is a process for getting started with these ads. You’ll need to go to the Local Services Ads page to sign up. You’ll be asked for your location and business type. As mentioned earlier, this is not yet supported in all communities and is available for limited categories is others. You can sign up to be notified when the service is available to you, and I would encourage you to do so.
If available, you’ll create an account (which is separate from your Google Ads account) and a business profile. It’s imperative that you are honest about the types of jobs you offer and want leads for as well as the service area you cover. You will be paying for leads that fit your profile, so any inaccuracies will incur charges for you and will frustrate potential customers. You will also be able to set a weekly budget, business hours, and some free-form highlights.
For the Google Guarantee, you will need to provide proof that you are licensed and insured. Google also requires businesses to pass a background check through Pinkerton. There is no cost to you for this part of the service.
Once these steps are completed, you can get started with your Local Services Ads! You will have access to a dashboard that will allow you to manage your incoming leads. It is beholden on you to follow up with those leads, just like with any other referral service. Within the dashboard, you’ll be able to review the lead and then reply to the customer, call the customer, or decline the job request. As with everything Google, there is tracking and reporting available within the dashboard so you can see what sort of ROI these ads are generating. You’ll also be able to request reviews directly from this dashboard as they are important to your ad rankings.
Within your profile, you can manage your ad budget by raising or lowering your weekly budget or pause the ads if you wish to stop running them for a while. Once you’re set up your account, your ads may show up (without the Google Guarantee badge) even if you are not paying for them. This is a strong reason to sign up now, even if you aren’t sure you want to spend money on these ads at this time.
Up to three Local Services Ads will show up on desktop searches, two will show up on mobile searches, and voice search with the Google Assistant will give one response. Since there is limited availability to show these ads, they are ranked and the top three (or two or one) will show based on the following factors: proximity to the customer, review score and number of reviews you have, responsiveness to leads, business hours versus when the job is requested, and whether or not any serious complaints have been received by Google about your business.
This can be a game changer for many businesses, especially those paying for leads from professional services aggregators like Angie’s List and Home Advisor. The process is simple and painless. It’s worth the minimal amount of time it will take for you to set up your profile and account. For businesses in the categories available, I cannot think of any reason not to at least dip a toe in the water on this one.