What Are Google Local Services Ads?
Google Local Services ads are a new Google pay-per-lead ad unit designed for service providers like plumbers and electricians. When local customers search for a business like yours, Local Services ads are placed at the top of Google search results.
Local Services Ad Unit
Since being introduced more than a year ago in 17 markets, Google Local Services ads have expanded to more than 30 U.S. markets. Unlike traditional Google ads, you only pay for LSAs when a customer contacts you as a result.
After the lead calls or messages (U.S. only), it’s up to you to close the deal. The new ad format promises to take potential customers from search to service booked, at the speed of Google.
Is My Business Eligible for Google Local Services Ads?
Not every business will be able to embrace Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) right away, since the new ad unit comes with stricter requirements than pay-per-click ads. To qualify for LSAs, your business must:
- Be properly licensed in your state
- Have valid business insurance
- Meet category requirements
In addition to being licensed and insured, your business must also fall into one of the categories for Google Local Service Providers. Here’s the complete list of jobs that meet this requirement.
- Air duct cleaner
- Appliance repair
- Windshield repair pro
- Car repair
- Carpet cleaning
- Event planner
- Garage door pro
- General contractor
- Cleaning service
- Junk removal
- Lawn care
- Pest control
- Pet boarding
- Pet grooming
- Tree service
- Upholstery cleaner
- Water damage
- Window cleaner
- Window repair
Local Services ads are Google’s way of helping potential customers find a trusted local business like yours. Similar to the map pack, Google gives priority to trustworthy businesses that people choose again and again. But unlike the map pack, LSA rankings give preference to Google Guaranteed businesses.
What is the Google Guarantee?
The Google Guarantee is a special distinction for local businesses that meet Google’s standard of trust and service. When you sign up for Google Local Services ads, you automatically apply for the Google Guarantee.
Once you apply, Google will verify your license and insurance. You can also expect to have them run background checks on all your employees to search for any red flags. If you pass certification, you’ll see a Google Guaranteed Badge on all your Local Services ads.
The Google Guarantee is more than just a pretty green check mark on your ads. The guarantee covers refund requests up to $2,000 for work booked through Local Services ads. It gives potential customers greater trust in choosing your business and greater peace of mind that the job was well done.
How Google Ranks Service Providers
Although the guarantee will help you get noticed by potential customers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll show up at the top of search results. Local Services ads rank service providers by reviews and responsiveness, in order to give searchers the best possible experience.
Google’s ranking algorithm is a closely guarded secret. But what we do know, is that Google reviews are a major factor in whether or not you outrank competing local businesses. If you search for a few nearby service providers, you’ll quickly see that Google isn’t just looking at the total number of reviews, but also the recency and rating of reviews. More often than not, new businesses that are quickly generating positive reviews will outrank established companies with more total reviews.
Google Local Services ads are unlike any other ad unit Google offers. Because of their pay-per-lead nature, LSAs are meant to connect real customers directly to real service providers through a chat or call. As a result, Google pays attention to the responsiveness of those service providers to guarantee customers are taken care of.
So if you want to see your LSAs displayed at the top of search results, make sure you’re regularly receiving positive reviews and responding to customers as soon as possible.
How to Sign Up for Google Local Services and Create Your First Ad
To get started with Google Local Services, visit the sign up page. If you need any help, this guide will walk you through each step of the process. For existing businesses with a Google My Business page, the process would be much shorter, since your GMB page has most of these details already.
The sign-up process is divided into three stages: welcome, sign up, create your profile. Each stage has a few few steps to guide you through the process. Here they are in order:
Step One: Connect with more customers
The first step highlights some of the benefits of signing up for Local Services ads, and also explains the previously mentioned Google guarantee. Note that when you sign up for Local Services ads you are automatically applying for the Google guarantee.
Step Two: Eligibility
Before you can start the sign-up process, Google wants to make sure you are eligible. LSAs have not been rolled out to all of the job categories listed in all states yet. So this form helps avoid wasting your time if your business doesn’t qualify.
Step Three: Pay for leads not clicks
Now that your business has been deemed eligible for LSAs, it’s time to establish a budget of how much you’d like to spend. This budget is not set in stone, and can be easily adjusted at any time from the Local Services ads dashboard. Google’s help documentation outlines exactly how and when you’ll be charged for LSAs.
It feels a little underwhelming to call “Sign Up” the second stage of the process, since it only has one step. But that’s how Google decided to divide things up.
Step One: Business Info
Much like the previous eligibility form, entering your business info and email address (next step) helps Google determine whether or not your business is already registered in Google My Business.
Create Your Profile
The final stage in setting up your Local Services ads is creating your profile. If you have an existing Google My Business page, you’ll see a lot of the same information in this section, like business hours, address, and service type.
Step One: Create an account
Creating an account connects your Gmail, or other email address, to the local services business. Again, if you already have Google My Business set up, then this step is unnecessary.
Step Two: Business details
Next, enter your business details including name, number of employees, and address. None of this information will be posted publicly, unless you choose to publish it.
Step Three: Set up your service area
Google recommends service areas based on the previously entered address. You can choose to expand or narrow your service area based on where your customers are. The service area you select will determine who sees your Local Services ads, so choose carefully.
Step Four: Set up your service types
Setting up your service types will help Google target potential customers looking specifically for your kind of business. For example, if they search “Area rug cleaner near me” and live in your service area, your business would likely show up at the top of search results.
Step Five: Business hours
Local Services ads are meant to connect customers directly to service providers. Google asks for your business hours, so they can show ads to customers during business hours, when you're most likely to respond. If they send you leads and nobody is in the office, or able to respond from the Local Services ads by Google app, it makes for a poor user experience.
Step Six: Preview your ad
Finally, you get to see a preview of your LSA before finishing the sign-up process. The preview allows you to go back and change information, in case you wanted to change the primary business address or how your name displays.
Step Seven: License and insurance
The last step in the process is to upload license and insurance information. This allows Google to guarantee your business and it’s also a required part of the LSA platform. You can choose to skip this step, but you won’t be able to finalize your ads until you’ve completed the verification.
If you choose to upload all of the required documentation, Google will then verify your business. Completing this process does not push any ads live, instead it takes you to your dashboard where you can adjust budgets and turn your LSAs on and off whenever you choose.
Optimize Your Customer Journey with Podium
Customers are increasingly turning to search engines like Google to find local service providers. Local Services ads are another channel business owners can use to connect with highly engaged potential customers. Every business is different, but for most full-time business owners, LSAs complement existing digital marketing channels like Facebook Messenger and Google Click-to-Message. Podium Messaging Platform is a single inbox for all your leads built for busy local business owners. So you can keep up with and engage all of your customers without breaking a sweat, or your business.