The Ultimate Guide to Google’s Local Service Ads

Updated: September 20, 2021
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The Ultimate Guide to Google’s Local Service Ads

Described by the search engine itself as “lead generation for local customers”, Local Service Ads are a new way for businesses to amplify their online presence using a similar model to Google Ads. Particularly focused on smaller businesses or hyper-local brands, this marketing tactic introduces a whole new world to show up in search results; and the best part is, it’s cost-effective as heck.

The idea behind this is that if someone searches for something like “carpet cleaning services near me”, they are shown local providers’ ads from their immediate vicinity. The same goes if they search for “restaurant nearby” – they’ll see restaurants close to their current position.

It’s smarter than you think

However, Google’s Local Service Ads also works with more granular details – i.e. if you’re looking for somewhere to eat at 5pm, you’ll be served up a whole lot of options that offer takeaway foods and dine-in (if available) all in the area you’re searching from. This is not dissimilar to local organic search, only it’s focused on a similar methodology to PPC advertising.

In this guide, we’re running you through everything you need to know about generating traction through Google Local Services and what you need to keep in mind as you go.

You’ll learn how to get more customers that are ready and raring to invest in your brand, and maximise your search ads overall. If you’re looking for more leads, then this is a guide you’ll want to bookmark.

What’s the big deal about Local Services Ads (LSA)?

While Google Local Services is still relatively new, the hyper is already well and truly there. The opportunity to collect low-hanging fruit and warm leads is huge; you just need to know how to use it appropriately.

Currently, Local Services Ads collect approximately 13.8% of localised SERP clicks. and are a huge conversion factor? Why? Because there’s no link: only a phone number for direct communication.

This means the user is more likely to get in touch with your brand, rather than dragging their feet and scrolling through multitudes of competitors.

How to explode your leads with Google Local Service Ads

The main difference between Local Services Ads and other types of PPC campaigns is that they’re not based around keywords per see. Instead, LSA targets businesses by location. This means that if someone conducts an online search for “appliance repair service near me” – as we said before – the results will display ads for services in their vicinity.

This particularly caters to those who are looking for immediate solutions to their problem, rather than having to trawl through search results to find a DIY alternative. This comes as no surprise, given how hard Google continues to work towards tailoring its algorithms to on-demand answers for its userbase.

But wait – it’s not for everyone

However, while this is an exciting new way to get your business’s most important information in front of potential customers, there are some current caveats. For example, Google Local Services Ads are only available in Canada and the United States, with the rollout for other countries still not set in stone.

Meanwhile, there are only a handful of service categories authorised to advertise on the platform – i.e. window cleaning services might be given the seal of approval, but a tobacco retailer may not. In Australia, Google Local Services Ads are still a no-go, with hopes that that will soon change.

And then there’s Google Guaranteed

The most important part of this model is that it heavily relies on Google Guaranteed. Think the blue Twitter tick, but for Google.

In other words, in order to use Google Local Services, you are required to carry the Google Guaranteed badge – a green tick that’s given only to select trades and service businesses in a local area.

According to the search engine itself, this requirement is designed to “help build a strong reputation online, giving potential customers peace of mind that you have been vetted and approved by Google”.

Examples of these may include (but are not limited to) businesses relating to:

  • Garage door services
  • Repair services
  • Pest control services
  • Water damage service provider
  • Roadside assistance service provider
  • Real estate agents.

Once you obtain this badge of honour, you’ll see something that looks like this against your Google Local Services Ads:

LSA  with Google Guaranteed - Source: TradiesGo

Unfortunately, as of the time of publishing this piece, Google Guarantee is still yet to hit Australia.

What business type can advertise on Google Local Services?

This ad format can’t be enjoyed by everyone, as we’ve explained, but the list of who can jump onboard is slowly growing. While Australia can’t yet access the platform, it’s an exciting space to keep an eye on as the channel continues to offer a new way to acquire leads on a low budget. For small businesses, LSA presents a huge opportunity, especially when other marketing services haven’t been particularly effective historically.

In saying that, if can expect to eventually get access to Google Local Services Ads if you’re in the following categories:

  • Appliance support and repairs
  • Automotive glass and car repairs
  • Carpet cleaners and upholstery solutions
  • Carpentry
  • Electrical work
  • Plumbing
  • Countertop services
  • Estate law
  • Event planning
  • Fencing
  • Financial planning
  • Flooring
  • Garage doors
  • House cleaning
  • HVAC
  • Immigration law
  • Waste removal
  • Gardening and landscaping
  • Removals and relocations
  • Pest control
  • Photography and videography
  • Real estate
  • Pet grooming
  • Roofing provider
  • Water damage services
  • Tree services
  • Window solutions.

What do Google Services Ads look like?

Not unlike pay-per-click listings through Google Ads, LSA ad formats sit at the top of search results and display three ads only for the relevant postcode. That effectively makes getting this real estate even more valuable.

Source: Wordstream

If you look closely, you’ll also see that these sit above Google Ads – which is a huge detail if you’re comparing whether to invest your budget into Google Local Services or its pay-per-click alternative.

Essentially, when someone searches for something like “plumber near me,” Google will display both traditional organic listings along with any relevant LSA ads, and Google Ads below that.

The same thing happens if someone types in a city name instead of a specific location.

How Google ranks you Local Services Ads

Okay, okay. Here’s the good stuff.

Because there are only three spots for LSA’s to be showcased in a search result, the nature of rankings is obviously very competitive.

In essence, here’s how it works:

  1. Advertisers select which service category they are in
  2. When a user inputs a search query for said services, the advertiser’s ad shows in return

However. And yes, there is a “however.” Google does rank you on finer details in order to choose the most accurate, relevant and valuable service providers to the user.

The ranking factors of Local Services Ads

Ultimately, there are a few factors that the search giant takes into consideration when picking which Google Local Services Ads to display. This criterion includes:

  1. Your budget
  2. Proximity to the user
  3. The number of positive reviews you have on Google My Business
  4. The proactivity you’re taking with your Local Services Ads
  5. How long you take to respond to customer queries. (Yes, they really track that.)

Additionally, if you take significantly longer than a competitor to respond to a lead, you can expect your LSA ranking potential to drop. This becomes tenfold if you fail to respond at all.

Finally, if you have multiple complaints against your business profile, you may end up with a suspension from the platform altogether.

Other considerations to keep an eye on

If you really want to maximise your potential with Local Services Ads, Google is likely to look at other aspects of your online presence, including:

  • Ad complaints and issues
  • Accuracy of your business hours
  • Accuracy of said area
  • Whether you hold a Google Guarantee badge
  • The overall nature of your marketing
  • Whether you’re likely to give the user a positive experience
  • How authoritative you are in your service categories.

Passing the many checks of Google

It wouldn’t be the world’s most powerful online channel without having its endless algorithms, criteria and benchmarks attached to it, and in Local Services Ads, there’s no exception.

Potential LSAs – like Google My Business – must pass a number of checks from the search giant, in order to be eligible.

For instance, before any advertiser can use Local Services Ads they must verify their business’s address, phone number, email address and hand over proof that all details are accurate (i.e. the name). Advertisers are also required to have all details relating to their business history assessed, making the channel far more exclusive than other solutions – like organic tactics in search results through the use of keyword research, or social media marketing.

So what are the steps you need to take for Google Local Services?

If you have a business profile up and running, that’s one thing, but you’ll need to have your company fully assessed by Google Local Services first. For instance, you will be required to:

1. Have a background check done

If your business fails any part of the background check, it won’t be allowed to advertise through Local Service Ads. 

Note: If you’re not sure how to get a background check done in Australia, a simple Google search will give you plenty of options.

2. Have your insurance and license checked

Your business insurance must be up-to-date and all required licensing must be legitimate. You’ll be asked to provide evidence to support this before going any further with Google Local Services.

3. Wait for approval

Unfortunately, if you’re not one for practising patience, this may be the most difficult step. Google can take a while to validate your documentation, and further delays may happen if there are issues with your supporting material.

And if you fail your checks…

You won’t be able to advertise if you don’t pass these checks. You have 30 days to apply again if you aren’t successful the first time. If you fail again, you are banned from attempting to advertise on the platform for a year. Ouch.

How to allocate a budget for Google Local Services Ads

Much like Google Ads, you must still set your budget on Local Services Ads, but how you are charged differs. This biggest defining factor is that you are charged only for ‘valid leads’, instead of clicks. That means that a lead must get in touch with your company for you to be charged, rather than if they just clicked through to your website.

In a nutshell, Google attempts to evenly distribute your budget throughout the day and week. This means that they may lower your ranking potential so that you don’t get too many leads all at once, and paces your budget earlier in the day or week instead.

Ultimately, this is a far more cost-effective way to set a bid and predictable ROI. You are able to narrow in on warm prospects, rather than someone who may click through to your website but not actually convert.

Finally, cost-per-lead – like the PPC alternative – varies depending on your industry and the competitive nature of it (i.e. keywords); advertisers still bid against each other to appear above their competitors in sponsored listings to customers.

You are only charged when:

  • You receive a voicemail as a result of your Local Services Ad
  • You receive a message request via SMS from leads
  • You answer a phone call that is a result of the ad.

Note: If you fail to answer a call from a prospect and contact them by SMS, email or through a phone call, you will still be charged. So, no sneaky business.

Disputes and errors

Luckily, Google does a good job of filtering out any leads that aren’t valid, so the risk of getting irrelevant enquiries through Google Local Services is pretty low.

For example, you can submit a dispute if you get enquiries that aren’t relevant to the services you offer, or if the location isn’t in your actual business profile. Meanwhile, if there’s no way for you to get in touch with a given customer or there’s spam involved, you can expect to receive support from the company, too.

What are the benefits of using Google Local Service Ads?

There’s a handful of benefits that makes this strategy for gaining more leads attractive. If getting results from social media or SEO hasn’t quite been all that impressive, this may be the new marketing tactic you need to revitalise your brand.

For example, with Google Local Services Ads, you can enjoy advantages such as:

  • No need to have any expert skills or knowledge to get started; just enter basic contact info into the form provided by Google and wait for them to check over your documentation.
  • No need to have an extensive online history for your brand (but you will need positive reviews and a Google My Business profile).
  • It’s super cost-effective and hyper-local. It eliminates the risk of spending money on a marketing technique that doesn’t deliver you warm enough leads.
  • The ads aren’t pay-per-impression so you don’t lose anything if someone clicks on your site then strays away again.
  • It’s highly mobile optimised and all results display in real-time, delivering you leads and phone calls when they’re most interested.

Why hiring an expert for your Google Local Services campaign is important

Like all things marketing, this platform is complex. It comes with its own dos and don’ts, and a whole lot of criteria you need to fulfil. If you’re a small business, navigating these details can be overwhelming.

While LSA is not yet available in Australia, we are ready to get started when it does finally open its doors. If you’re looking to get straight onto this opportunity or maximise another alternative in the meantime, we highly recommend getting in touch with Edge’s experts now.

While you can do it yourself, monitoring any kind of digital marketing campaign takes a lot of effort and hard work. You also need to understand how analytics function and how they dictate your future results.

Taking all of this under our wings, EDGE combines all of these factors for clients across the country, building hugely successful strategies that deliver ROI.

Sound like a plan? Get in touch with us now on 1300 558 659.

Mira
Mira -
Head of Paid Media
1300 558 659 - www.edgeonline.com.au

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