How to Optimize Google Local Services Ads
11 Minute Read
Google is a pay-to-play space. If you want to get your business in front of consumers, you need to invest in both organic search marketing and paid search advertising.
For years, text-based ads have been taking up more and more real estate on the Google SERPs. If you search for a product or service, you’d be lucky to have organic content (such as Google local listings, organic search results, etc.) appear above the fold.
Today, another Google product is taking precedence in the SERPs over text ads for a variety of competitive searches. Out of all the digital advertising options supported by Google, Local Services Ads (or LSAs) afford a number of unique advantages.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to obtain results with LSAs because they screw up the campaign setup and/or fail to follow best practices. In this guide, the experts at Twelve Three Media walk you through the process of getting started with Local Services Ads and optimizing LSAs to maximize leads.
How Do Local Services Ads Work?
Local Services Ads appear at the top of the search results for select services (more on that below). They even appear above the traditional PPC ads results.
When users click on the ad, they will be taken to a new screen with information about the business.
Information on this page generally includes:
- An overview of the business, including:
- Location and area(s) served
- Offered services
- Years in operation
- Licensing, insurance, and background information
- Business hours
- And more
- Google reviews of the business
- A map of the business location
- Photos of the business
A phone number is also listed at the top of the Local Services Ad.
This is a unique phone number generated by Google that is tied to your office phone. When customers call the LSA phone number, they will be connected with your front desk, an intake person, or however your business is set up to take incoming calls. Calls are tracked and recorded through your Google Ads account.
Local Services Ads require active management. You will need to review each call to determine whether or not it is a lead.
Google Local Services Ads work on a cost per lead basis (as opposed to PPC ads, which operate on a cost per click basis). Advertisers are only charged for the leads they receive, not the number of clicks or impressions their ads get.
Advertisers in the United States also have the option to set up forms on Google LSAs that users can fill out (“Send request”). However, we generally advise against creating forms. Unless you manage the ads 100% yourself, you will be reliant on your agency to share the form information with you, which can lead to delays that cost you business.
Google Screened Ads vs. Google Guaranteed Ads
Earning new customers is all about trust. All aspects of your marketing and advertising need to communicate that you are reputable and trustworthy. But, when potential customers don’t know you from Adam, it is helpful to have objective, third-party verification.
Businesses offering household services (see below) can earn a Google Guaranteed badge. You must submit to an extensive background check and review of pertinent licenses to reach Google Guaranteed status.
Similarly, businesses offering other professional services may qualify for a Google Screened badge. Lawyers, financial planners, real estate agents and real estate brokers, and preschools and child care providers can achieve Google Screened status by submitting to a background check and review of relevant licenses.
Businesses in the midst of the background check process can still start advertising with LSAs. Pre-Badge Ads are listed below all Google Screened or Google Guaranteed advertisers. When you get your Google Guarantee or your business is Google Screened, your Local Services Ads should start to rank higher.
What Industries Can Use Local Service Ads?
Industry is a key consideration when determining whether you can run a Local Services Ads campaign. Before you start planning a Local Services Ads campaign, you need to know if LSAs are an option for your business.
Only certain industries (known as categories) are supported by Google in each country. For example, here is a comprehensive list of the industries that can advertise with LSAs in the United States:
- Child care and education services:
- Daycare centers
- In-home child care professionals
- Language instructors
- Financial services:
- Financial planners
- Tax professionals
- Fitness services:
- Dance instructors
- Personal trainers
- Weight loss professionals
- Yoga studios
- Healthcare services:
- First aid training professionals
- Household services:
- Appliance repairmen
- Carpet cleaners
- Countertop professionals
- Fencing contractors
- Flooring professionals
- Foundation service providers
- Garage door professionals
- General contractors
- Home inspectors
- Home security professionals
- Home theater professionals
- House cleaners
- HVAC contractors
- Junk removal companies
- Lawn care professionals
- Moving companies
- Pest control professionals
- Pool cleaners
- Pool contractors
- Sewage service professionals
- Siding professionals
- Snow removal professionals
- Tree service providers
- Water damage service providers
- Window cleaners
- Window repair professionals
- Legal services:
- Bankruptcy lawyers
- Business lawyers
- Contract lawyers
- Criminal lawyers
- Disability lawyers
- DUI lawyers
- Estate lawyers
- Family lawyers
- Immigration lawyers
- Intellectual property lawyers
- Labor lawyers
- Litigation lawyers
- Malpractice lawyers
- Personal injury lawyers
- Real estate lawyers
- Traffic lawyers
- Pet services:
- Animal rescue and shelters
- Pet adoption agencies
- Pet boarding and day care centers
- Pet groomers
- Pet trainers
- Real estate services
Local Services Ads are served for various permutations of searches for businesses providing services in the local area. For your LSAs to rank, you need to identify any and all services you provide to ensure you maximize your leads.
Where Are Local Services Ads Available?
Location, location, location: It’s key for competing and winning across all paid Google advertising services, and Local Services Ads are no exception.
Google Local Services Ads are currently available in the following 11 countries:
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
Of course, confirming that LSAs are available in your country is only one small step in a successful campaign. You need to accurately identify the areas you serve and optimize your Local Services Ads listings to drive leads.
Are Local Services Ads Worth It?
Absolutely! Local Services Ads offer several benefits unique among Google’s paid advertising options:
1. Cost Per Leads Billing
With most Google ads, advertisers are billed when users are served their ads (cost per impression) or when they click on the ad (cost per click). Obviously, neither of these options signifies that the user is ready to take the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Furthermore, both of these pricing models lend themselves to “gaming” that is negative for the advertiser. Competitors acting in bad faith can click a PPC ad multiple times to waste your daily budget.
With LSAs, you have greater control of your budget and get a higher ROI on your ads. Google will charge you for calls lasting longer than 30 seconds. However, you can dispute calls (and messages, if you go that route) that are not leads.
2. Precise Targeting
Like the name says, LSAs are designed to point users to local businesses. When setting up a Local Services Ad campaign, you identify the zip codes and/or cities you want to target. Your ads will only be served in the areas you specify, which reduces waste and ensures that you are reaching the right audience.
3. Higher-Quality Leads
You likely notice that customers who take the time to call your business tend to be better-informed, more engaged, and more likely to buy. With Local Services Ads, this is practically guaranteed because much of the information that would persuade a customer to convert appears right on the LSA itself.
4. Higher Placement in Google Search Results
For many years, pay-per-click ads have been essential for dominating the portion of Google SERPs that appears above the fold. While this is still true, Local Services Ads give qualified businesses an opportunity to stand out even more (even above PPC ads).
Google will display up to three Local Services Ads for supported searches. Obviously, the key to maximizing leads from LSAs is to appear in this newfangled three-pack.
However, even if your Local Services Ad isn’t in the top three results, the list of options is smaller and easier to browse than organic SERPs (hundreds of results instead of hundreds of millions of results). The combination of localized targeting and Google’s screening process enables businesses outside of the top results to gain at least some amount of visibility.
5. Better Lead Tracking
Unlike most paid ads, LSAs give you the power to evaluate your leads and tell Google what constitutes a conversion. Not only can this save you money, but it gives you a sense of what services your customers want and need.
Understanding your audience is essential for the success of your business. Regularly reviewing calls from your Local Services Ads can help you identify common themes in the questions your customers ask and the issues they face.
These interactions can help you:
- Determine the best dates and times to run LSAs and other paid ad campaigns
- Optimize all aspects of your marketing and advertising to increase conversions
- Develop better intake procedures
- Ensure your marketing and ads align with your branding
- Maintain accurate local information
Checking your LSA leads regularly can help you get in the habit of staying on top of other aspects of your lead tracking. Knowing how to navigate your analytics and reporting can be enormously beneficial for seeing how your campaigns are working.
How Do I Dominate the Google Local Services Ads Space?
Local Services Ads are not a set-it-and-forget-it advertising strategy. You need to take the right steps upfront and diligently manage your account to ensure that your ads rank higher for the most valuable searches and you meet your lead generation goals.
The following steps can help you stay at the top of the LSAs:
1. Complete Your Profile
The first mistake many advertisers make is leaving one or more fields blank or relying on defaults when setting up their Local Services Ads account. You need to take the time to fill out each and every field with relevant and accurate information.
Commonly overlooked areas when creating an LSA profile include:
- All of your locations
- All of your services
- The year your business was founded
- Hours of operation (if they change, you need to update your account)
- Bio information about your business (these are selling points, such as a free estimate or consultation; guarantees on parts, labor, and service; etc.)
- Any and all information for Google to screen your business
Bottom line: The first step of dominating Local Services Ads in your area is to take a soup to nuts approach to telling Google who you are, where you are located, and what you offer customers.
You also have the option to upload photos of your office, team members, and more. LSAs with photos tend to get more leads, so it is absolutely vital to add photos upfront and continue to do so on a regular basis.
2. Stay Active
How often you access your LSA account plays a major role in how your Local Services Ads are ranked. You need to log in frequently (probably multiple times a day) to review your calls and determine whether or not they constitute viable leads.
Google gets paid for every lead generated through LSAs. It is no surprise, then, that advertisers that report leads regularly are going to be rewarded with better rankings.
You should also check your rankings often and make adjustments to ensure accurate information across all of your ads. In our experience, information may sometimes be changed or go missing inexplicably. The longer you leave inaccurate or missing information up, the worse your ads will perform.
3. Spend Big (If You Can)
Google frequently says that its advertising options are cost-effective, claiming that you can enjoy high returns on relatively small budgets. This may be true for businesses with minimal expectations or those in non-competitive markets, but it certainly isn’t true for everyone.
Pay to play is the norm for Google advertising. If Google tells you a budget of $300 is enough to drive leads, you will likely need a budget of four or five figures (or more) to reach your goals.
Of course, not every business will have the budget necessary to dominate the local market. If this is the case, it is crucial to work with an experienced digital advertising agency to develop realistic expectations for your campaigns and determine the best way to make your budget go further.
Effective media planning and media buying is all about making your advertising budget work for you. A knowledgeable agency can help you fit LSAs in the media mix to maximize your local advertising presence.
4. Get Google Guaranteed or Google Screened
Obtaining a badge that says your business is “Google Guaranteed” or “Google Screened” might seem like just a marketing ploy. However, going through the background check process is essential for dominating Local Services Ads.
First and foremost, depending on your industry, all of your top competitors will be marked Google Guaranteed or Google Screened. If they have this status and you don’t, your ads will be served lower in LSA results.
Second, consumers associate these badges with quality and trust. They serve as a kind of shorthand that shows your business is reputable.
Finally, the Google Guarantee and getting Google Screened are both free. You have to invest time and effort upfront to submit the information required by Google and wait while the necessary checks are completed, but there is no monetary cost for either badge.
5. Get More Reviews
Online reviews are essential for driving new business. Naturally, a large number of 5-star reviews are a key tool for any digital marketing or advertising strategy.
Reviews are also very important for standing out in Local Services Ads. A star rating is one of the first things users see in the LSA pack.
When users click on your ad, they will be able to read reviews for your business.
There is a strong correlation between ranking well in LSAs and (a) a high number of Google reviews and (b) a positive overall rating. Reviews on Local Services Ads are connected to your Google Business Profile. As such, it is extremely important to claim your Google Business Profile listing, make sure all of the information is accurate, and manage your reviews and ratings.
Get the Leads Rolling in with Google Local Service Ads
No business wants to invest in ads that underperform. Local Services Ads provide an opportunity to dominate the local market in ways many other advertising options don’t.
Unfortunately, early mistakes and neglect in the midst of a campaign lead to diminishing returns. If you want to avoid these problems and get your LSAs set up right the first time, Twelve Three Media can help!
Our Digital Advertising Experts know what it takes to compete and win in multiple industries. We can determine if Local Services Ads are right for you, create your account, help you get the Google Guarantee or Google Screened, kick your campaign off strong, and monitor your leads for you.