Google local service ads (LSAs) are an absolute jackpot for both customers and local businesses. If you’ve ever needed to hire a plumber, an electrician, or a locksmith, you know just how time-sensitive your request typically is. And anyone knows how worrisome it is to let a stranger in to repair it.
Me looking to see if the electrician I just hired looks sketchy or not
If you’re in the business of showing up to someone’s house and fixing their problems, then local service ads are the perfect place for you to start.
What are Google Local Service Ads?
When someone searches for a local business to solve their problem, they often have three ads, Google Maps, and organic results to choose from. It can be a struggle for you, a local business, to catch your customers’ attention and convert them.
So local service ads appear at the top of the page for a Google search with some vital information displayed font-and-center. There are few differences between a local service ad and your standard Google PPC search ad. I’ll cover in more detail a little later, but know that you pay per lead, you don’t have to write up any clever writing, and customers book you without ever leaving Google’s search page.
How much do Google Local Service Ad leads cost?
Well, it depends on your industry. Some fantastic news is that Google is upfront about what you can expect to pay for a lead.
It generally costs between $5.00/lead to $90.00/lead, but it can depend on your industry and location. (Either way, you’re only being charged for a qualified lead.)
A qualified lead means one of the three following things happened:
- A customer texted you
- Your potential customer left you a voicemail
- You answered the phone and talked to a customer
All three of those actions are pretty solid opportunities for you to close a deal. And that part’s on you.
Here’s a pretty cool tool for looking at your potential cost/lead. You can toggle your location and see what you can expect for your industry. Here’s what my home, Utah, looks like:
An average CPL of $29.00 really isn’t bad at all, right?
When you’re setting up your local service ads, you’ll be able to set your budget, and Google will tell you upfront how many leads you can expect to see. Pretty neat, right?
What do Local Service Ads look like?
Let’s take a look at what your customer is going to see when they search. Desktop and mobile views will have this information:
- Your Company Name
- Google Ratings
- Business Hours
- A Way to Call You
- What city you service
- The Google Guarantee
Short and simple, but all necessary information.
Here’s what the desktop ads look like:
Just looking for an electrician in my city
On desktop, the customer can see your phone number. If they click on your ad, here’s what they see:
Pretty detailed, no?
Here’s where your customer gets all the low-down about you. We think the blue section specifically for pandemic-related offerings is a nice touch.
On the business side, make sure all your information – such as the overview, hours, etc. – is up to date.
Here’s what the mobile version of your ads will look like:
Love that click-to-call feature
The Google Guarantee shows at the top of all the local service ads because Google must approve every business that runs local service ads. But it’s still nice for customers to see that little green check.
As you can see, there’s an easy click-to-call feature on mobile, which saves customers time. They can also click on the name to see more information about your business:
We’ve got the COVID-information taking up the most room right now
From here, customers can scroll down to read more information – just like with the desktop version.
All in all, Google wants to make the experience as painless and simple for the customer as possible. You’ll help by adding as much information to your ads as possible.
Fun Fact: Google LSAs will also show on tablet results
History of Google Local Service Ads
Let’s take a quick detour to look at the history of Google Local Service Ads:
Google recognized the need for customers to quickly connect with trusted professionals all the way back in 2015. (The older this article gets, the better that 2015 is going to look.) Local Service Ads were initially named “Home Service Ads,” – the name makes its purpose pretty clear.
The beta started in San Francisco and quickly expanded its reach in 2017. Today there are over 90 locations that can run local service ads. One thing that’s remained the same since 2015 is the somewhat extensive process to set up local service ads and get that gorgeous Google Guaranteed. (We’ll cover more of what that means later.)
Local Service Ads Industries
Here’s your list for the industries that can run Google Local Service Ads in the US. Please note that some industries face exclusions or specific requirements.
As you can see, local services include more than just your standard plumber or electrician. You can now use this if you’re a tutor, pet care provider, and even a roadside assistance service!
Local Service Ad Regions
As of July 2020, there are 94 cities that you can be in to run local service ads. Take a look below, but keep in mind that updates happen with Google all the time:
- AZ – Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale
- CA – Anaheim, Arcade, Arden, Carlsbad, Hayward, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Ontario, Riverside, Roseville, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco
- CO – Aurora, Denver, Lakewood
- DC – Washington
- DE – Camden, Philadelphia, Wilmington
- FL – Clearwater, Fort Lauderdale, Kissimmee, Miami, Orlando, Sanford, St. Petersburg, Tampa, West Palm Beach
- GA – Atlanta, Roswell, Sandy Springs
- IL – Chicago, St. Louis
- IN – Cincinnati, Elgin, Naperville
- KY – Cincinnati
- MA – Boston, Cambridge, Newton
- MD – Alexandria, Arlington, Baltimore, Camden, Columbia, Towson
- MI – Dearborn, Detroit, Warren
- MN – Bloomington, Minneapolis, St. Paul
- MO – St. Louis
- NC – Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia
- NH – Boston, Cambridge, Newton
- NJ – Camden, Jersey City, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Wilmington
- NV – Henderson, Las Vegas, Paradise
- NY – Jersey City, New York, Newark
- OH – Cincinnati
- OR – Hillsboro, Portland, Vancouver
- PA – Camden, Jersey City, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilmington
- SC – Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia
- TX – Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Sugar Land, The Woodlands
- UT – Salt Lake City
- VA – Alexandria, Arlington
- WA – Bellevue, Hillsboro, Portland, Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver
- WI – Bloomington, Chicago, Elgin, Minneapolis, Naperville, St. Paul
- WV – Alexandria, Arlington
As you can see, that covers many areas, and again, Google’s always expanding their reach. So if your location isn’t on that list, stay tuned because unless you’re in the sticks somewhere, it’ll be in your area in no time.
Google Local Service Ads Benefits
Ok, ok, so you’ve checked that you’re in an eligible area and the right industry. Sweet!
…but you’re still not convinced. You may say, “I already have Google Ads and great SEO that puts me at the top of Google Search Results. Why should I care about running Google Service Ads?”
Well, we’ve got a solid list of benefits that running local service ads have. These benefits are perks you won’t find anywhere else.
Advertisers Only Pay for Results
Take a moment and think about when you’re charged for ads on other platforms. When it’s Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, you’re charged for a click on a keyword. You pay whether or not the person who clicked on your ad converted. To search platforms, it doesn’t matter if you made money back or not.
Pay per click seems a bit unfair… but then you think of Facebook’s platform. Suddenly you’re charged per impression. The person doesn’t even have to click at all! What a nightmare for frugal businesses.
When you see the bill for ad platforms you have no leads from
On Google Local Service Ads, you’re charged for a confirmed contact. Again, that’s someone calling, someone submitting a form, or someone leaving you a voicemail. Seems pretty fair, right?
Sure, you can still be charged for your mom calling your business to chat, but you do have ways of confirming good leads vs. bad. (You can also tell your mom only to call your cell.)
The bottom line is, you’re not charged for clicks or any other metric that doesn’t give you a fair chance at making money back. You’re only being charged for results.
Establish Trust with the Google Guarantee
This one is a perk for both you and the customer. We’ve all been in situations where the person coming to help you is questionable. Look at the list of industries that get Google local service ads. You’ll know that some of these businesses deal with pretty delicate situations – not just plumbers (lol), but movers, pet care providers, and roadside assistance services.
It makes sense that your customer wants to know they can completely trust you. They may not know your brand name, but everyone knows and (to an extent) trusts Google’s reputation.
Surprisingly, the Google Guarantee (or Google Screened for professional services like Law, Financial Planning, and Real Estate) goes beyond putting a cute little green checkmark next to your name, though.
There’s more to that check than you may realize.
When your business becomes Google Guaranteed, Google puts its money where its mouth is. They’ll protect customers for up to $2,000 coverage. It’s Google’s way of looking out for you and your customer.
But wait, there’s more! If you become a Google Guaranteed provider, you also become eligible to be listed as the recommended local provider in Google Assistant. This is free. We love free things.
Positive Reviews & Ratings Take Center Stage
Don’t ever sleep on Google reviews! Unprofessional or unanswered reviews can kill a business, and you should take the time to engage with your customers. Most people will read Google reviews before deciding on what company to go with.
Look at this again:
Visually appealing stars + “see reviews” link = win
Since Google snatched our beloved Google reviews ad extension away from us, companies have difficulty displaying their hard-earned reviews. That’s why it’s pleasing to see your stars displayed front and center on local service ads.
Strengthen Reach and Overall Paid Strategy
Even though we’ve been talking up local service ads (especially when it comes to the charging structure), do not under any circumstances replace your search ads with Local Service ads! They aren’t meant to run alone.
Sure, LSAs are at the very top of the page, but there’s still value in including traditional search ads and organic content in your strategy.
In fact, just think of the impact of different ad types on the buying funnel. LSAs are great for generating direct leads from local searches. Whereas organic or other PPC formats drive brand awareness and, therefore, may reduce your cost per lead.
Additionally, LSAs might be great for someone who has an urgent need and is ready to buy, but some customers are still defining their problem. Customers like the latter are still in the consideration phase of their journey. Therefore, they’ll more readily click into organic content or paid search ads to learn more before committing to a booking.
Ultimately, different ad types facilitate multiple interactions with your brand, and for this reason, work together to convert and generate leads for your business.
Put yourself in front of people who are ready to buy
Google’s knowledge of buyer intent is basically magic.
But because your local service ads will appear in front of people who just made an urgent request, you know that the people clicking your links are ready to buy: they see immediate value in the service you’re providing.
Additionally, Google will sift your customers for you by asking questions about their job and their specific location at the time of their query. These golden customers will arrive at your business door through a call, message, or direct booking. Easy peasy.
Another great thing is that there’s no window shopping. Customers that book through LSAs chose you specifically from your competitors.
Be Included in Voice Search Responses
Local Service Ads will feature in voice ads and text, which is great since every 1 in 4 US adults owns a smart speaker as of this year. Voice ads are part of a rapidly growing ad medium with a ton of potential.
One example of how your ads will be featured over voice is by using Google Assistant. Your potential customers can ask the assistant questions like, “I need a pet groomer.” Users can give more details about the job they need, and Google will offer providers (you!) who meet that need.
No need to manage ads and keywords
It takes a lot of time and effort to skillfully manage target keywords and ads (we would know 😅). Which is why Local Service ads — and other low maintenance things — are so great.
All you have to do is set up your profile correctly and give your customers a direct way to book you! Then you’re well on your way to benefiting from the ad type.
A word of caution: because there are no keywords to manage, you must add as much truthful detail about your account as possible. Later, Google will use the information stored in your account to decide the leads it sends you.
Setting up Google’s Local Service Ads
Now that you know all the sick benefits for your business, you can’t wait to advertise your service on Local Service ads, right? Lucky you, it’s pretty straightforward.
I can do three things…
Read on to get your Local Service ads up and running:
Establish Local Services eligibility
As we mentioned before, Google has some restrictions on what locations and services they’ll vouch for. So first, check your business on Google’s eligibility page.
If I’m a house cleaner in Atlanta, Georgia, I’m in luck
This will depend on both your industry and location. This is a relatively new feature that Google is actively rolling out, so be patient and check back often!
If you already have a google email associated with an AdWords account, you’ll get this screen:
Create local service ads through existing Google Ads account
Just navigate to the login portal (https://adwords.google.com/localservices/) and enter the same email you use with your Google Ads account.
Create Local Services business profile
Before you get excited, your Local Service Ads profile is not the same as your Google My Business account. Your profile will include these elements:
Pretty simple, don’t you think?
Just go to the Google Ads local service ads onboarding page and enter your website, business website, ZIP code, country, and Business category to finish creating your local service ads account.
Create local service ads account with Google Ads email
The profile you set up here will determine how Google will run your Local Service Ads, including which jobs your account qualifies for. Be honest, so you can fulfill any leads that come in. Okay, carry on!
Set your service areas
Setting up your service area
One cool aspect of Local Service Ads is that you can choose specific cities and postal codes that show your ad (usually the area you’re able to service). Once the area is selected, the ads will show up to your audience based on two factors:
- The estimated location of a user when they search. If location services indicate that someone is searching within your service area, your ad may run.
- Location names used in searches. Say I was in another state, and my roommate called from Salt Lake City to tell me our A/C had gone out. Getting a Local Services recommendation for my current location will not fix my unit in Utah. That’s why Google will provide an HVAC repair Local Service Ad to me if I searched “AC Repair Salt Lake City.” Names in locations matter.
A note on excluding postal codes: In addition to being rather specific about what areas you serve, you also can exclude specific postal codes. For example, Houston, TX, has like, 199 zip codes (last time I checked). And it’s a huge city. With lots of traffic. If I’m a cute mom and pop service company, I could have many reasons for not servicing all 199, even though technically I offer my services in the greater Houston area. Simply deselect these codes from the list assigned to that city, and your ads won’t show to people who are searching from or about the area name.
Set up your businesses service types
The next step you’ll take is to list the services associated with your business. However, it’s important to only list work that you can deliver on.
Google will use this list when a user queries a need for a relevant job type. For example, if you’re a plumber, select relevant services you provide like “install shower,” so Google knows to show your ads to people searching for closely related phrases.
Setting your service types
Define your business hours and status
Your business hours and business status are also factors in determining rank, so make sure you’re accurate in filling this out. Luckily, Google gives you an Open/Close toggle and lets you set a range of hours each day.
Setting business hours
Alter status of business hours
Are you closed? Taking a mini (or maxi) vacation? Want to hide behind your shop counter for the day? You have the option to change your status to Temporarily Closed.
Essentially, setting yourself as closed will temporarily pause our Local Services Ads. As a result, Google bumps the ad rank down temporarily, since an open business is more relevant to someone with an urgent need than a closed one (who can’t help them).
Defining when Local Service ads run
However, we want to note that setting business hours differs from choosing when the ads will run. You can change this setting in the ‘Profile and Budget’ tab of the Local Service Ads app. From there, click into ‘Ad schedule’ and choose whether you want to run the ads Always on (24/7), Only during my business hours, or Custom.
A preview of exciting things to come
Once all of this information is filled out, wait a few minutes. The request will process, and you’ll receive another email telling you to log in and continue the setup process with license and insurance details.
Add licensing and insurance details
This section is about as exciting as you expected… so, not very exciting.
It is, however, essential to getting a Google Guaranteed or Google Screened listing beside your business. There are specific licenses by state, county, and industry that might be required. Your best bet is to compile what you have immediately and work with your Google rep to make sure you have everything together pre-launch. Otherwise, this could be a bottleneck to getting your business LSAs up and running.
Here’s an example of what insurance and licenses are needed for an HVAC professional operating in Salt Lake, UT:
Local Service Ads insurance and license registration
Again, requirements (minimum insurance amount) will change depending on the industry and location, so do your due diligence here.
Complete Background Check with Third-Party Company
Google requires a background check (identity and criminal) for members of your business:
- The business entity itself
- All business owners
- All client-facing workers (includes employees, independent contractors, temp workers, contingent workers, vendor, or other service professionals)
These background checks are conducted by a local third party (e.g., Evident, Pinkerton). In case you’re worried, no, your personal identifying information will never be shared with Google or associated agencies — it’s pass or fail. You’ll have 30 days from failing to correct and reapply. You can see requirements by specific US category here.
Complete background checks with Evident
This seems like a big ask, but remember the benefits of the Google Guarantee! It’s worth it, we promise. Plus, the background checks are free for businesses trying to set up an LSA.
Approval can take weeks to months, depending on demand in your area and the number of employees needing background checks. Obviously, this timeline is a bit more cumbersome than the time it takes to set up a Google Ads account.
And if you ever lose track of the next steps, go to the status dashboard to view your progress:
Local Service Ads status dashboard
How Do Local Service Ads Rank?
We mentioned that Google lists three LSA vendor options at the top of the desktop search results page (just two for mobile, and only one for voice!). But how does Google determine which ads get featured in this prime spot?
When a user submits a query, Google uses these factors to decide which service provider it will display in the Local Search ads unit at the top of the page:
- Proximity: Your business’ proximity to where the user is searching from
- Responsiveness: How quickly do you respond to reviews and callers?
- Your review score (★★★★★) and the volume of reviews you have
- Job Type Relevance: to the user’s search term, the time of search, and other user attributes
- Business Hours: if you’re closed or not taking bookings, you’ll rank lower
- Complaints: a track record of complaints about your business will negatively impact your local service ad ranking
Note: Some other things could affect how often your service is being shown to users via Local Service Ad placements. For instance, Google will try not to spend your entire budget at once. Therefore, if you’re getting leads faster than your budget can keep up with, Google might lower your ranking or temporarily pause your ads to spread leads out over time.
Again, star rating and review volume impact Local Service unit ranking. If you want to book more jobs through this medium, reviews must be a priority.
Because Local Service Ads are all about establishing trust and proving a good customer history to your audience, it’s little surprise getting good reviews is beneficial for lead gen and Local Service ad Ranking. What’s nice is that Google has provided several ways to request and collect reviews from your customers.
Ask in the Local Services reviews tab
This is a bit part and parcel of managing your leads, but you’ll have the option to ask for a review from all booked leads marked ‘Already Completed’ on your Local Service Ads dashboard. You can also click ‘Ask For Review’ in the Reviews tab in the app.
Just do so within 60 days (or earlier, when your busy customers still remember the bomb service you just rendered!)
We love reviews. Don’t forget to request them.
Merge Google My Business reviews with Local Services account
Remember earlier when we told you the Local Service Ads profile and Google My Business accounts were different?
We still stand by that statement.
BUT: you have the option to pull reviews from an established Google My Business account as long as that same Google Ads account connects it.
Use your Local Service Ads link
Do you have recent customers who haven’t posted on either review accounts? You’re in luck.
When you set up your account, you’ll have a review link provided. Send it out to all the recent customers who loved your service, and watch as the reviews roll in. Remember: personalization is key! They’ll appreciate a person-to-person email directly from you.
Local Service Ads review link
Types of reviews
You can receive a couple of different review types for Local Service Ads. These include
- Google Verified Reviews: Services found and booked through Local Services will use a ‘Google Verified’ label so other users know the review can be trusted
- Externally-sourced reviews: These are reviews sourced outside of Local Services, like Google My Business or partner affiliates (we’re looking at you, HomeAdvisor). No label for these guys.
- Anonymous reviews: You’ll see the date the service was performed, the type of work done, and potentially the city, but not the user name or picture.
Warning: you can run, but you can’t hide from Local Service reviews. If you have a Google Verified review, it won’t get deleted if you delete your profile.
How You’re Charged for Local Service Ads
Local Service ads have a magical Cost Per Lead (CPL) charging structure instead of Google Search Ads’ Cost-per-Click (CPC).
We talked a little about how great this is because you only pay for ‘results.’ This payment structure is especially great for industries with higher Google Search ads CPC averages (like lawyers!)
Law services offered by Google Local Service Ads
Prices will vary widely by your location and the job type. Additionally, Google promises not to spend more than the max monthly budget you set for the ad.
To be honest, this new ad form is still super new. Therefore, we don’t have the same type of granular data we have, on average CPC for Google Search. Yet, besides ‘staying tuned’ for more updates, you can track your average costs for your particular business in the Local Service Ads profile.
Monthly max / # booked customers = average CPL
What makes a good lead?
One important thing to point out is that Local Services charge per lead, NOT per client acquisition. For example, if a client ends up canceling their booking, you would still get charged because you were delivered a lead. Google will get them on the hook, but it’s your job to reel them in. Of course, there are always invalid leads, which you can contest with Google or get compensated for.
Manage Your Budget
Speaking of paying for leads, you can manage your budget by going to the ‘Profile & budget’ tab in your Local Service Ads account:
Profile & budget tab
From there, you can edit your budget on a sliding scale based on the average number of leads you’d like to hit each month and the amount you’re willing to pay per lead. Remember to set a ‘monthly max’ as well; Google won’t ever spend more than this value each month.
In the example below, a $99 weekly budget will yield a target of 3 leads per week ( ~13 for the month).
Budget for an HVAC professional in Salt Lake City, UT
This is the mobile view:
Profile & budget view on mobile
But is $33 / lead good, you ask? Well, that depends on several factors, including how much this HVAC professional charges for each service, and whether or not they’re good at booking leads and servicing customers. Remember, you only make money for client acquisition, but always pay for leads.
You can increase or decrease your budget at any time (click on the pencil icon!). Or say you can’t take any more bookings or are going on vacation for a while? You can pause your ads all together when you need to as well.
Local Service Ads pricing structure
The budget you choose to set will depend highly on your location and industry. Google has the below tool that estimates a monthly budget based on how many leads you want each month, job type, and postal code.
Your weekly budget will vary by industry and desired new leads/month – Image Source
Finally, in addition to the geographic area and the service you provide, pay attention to lead type when planning your weekly and monthly budget. For example, message leads are as of now 50% the cost of the corresponding phone lead.
Manage Your Local Service Ads Leads
Managing your leads is an essential part of running a successful Local Service Ads account. You can sign into the Local Services Ads app or the ‘Leads’ inbox on desktop to:
- Get and respond to leads
- Contact prospects
- Book new appointments
- See appointment reminders
The Leads inbox on desktop gives a great view of all your leads and booking opportunities.
Leads will come in as New, but only stay that way for 15 days. It’s in your best interest to move them through each phase (Active → Booked → Completed). That’s because responsiveness impacts ad ranking. You want to be quick, so Google keeps putting you in front of people with the top Local Services Ads placements. All new ads that get responded to become ‘Active.’
Leads inbox in Local Service Ads desktop
Leads will come in as phone calls or messages. Respond, book, and manage appointments in your app or desktop profile.
Personally, one of my life’s pursuits is to avoid talking to other human beings on the phone. Despite my personal preference, Google gives customers the option to call you directly. You can pick up and speak to them (if you’re into that sort of thing), or respond to their voicemail or missed call later. A “Call from Google” tone will let you know where the customer is coming from (your Google Service ad!).
Mobile Leads Inbox
Mobile app notifications will let you know when you get a message lead. You’ll also get an email. Additionally, message leads will default as off, and therefore must be turned on in the Profile & budget dashboard of your account.
When you receive a lead message, you can opt to Reply as an email or text or Call the listed number. You can also Decline, which, in effect, will remove the service request and notify the customer. Make sure you send follow up information about why you declined a service request and follow up if you can meet the request when something changes.
To book leads directly from your Local Services profile, you’ll need to enable this through Google’s booking partners: Housecall Pro and ServiceTitan.
Setting this up through the booking partner entitles you to some pretty cool perks, including:
- The ability to schedule or redirect customers directly through your profile
- See pricing and availability upfront (I always look for this before I call a provider)
The marking, reporting, and tracking features in the app
Don’t forget to mark your leads as booked or already completed in the app or desktop (see above).
What’s It Like For Local Service Customers?
Local Services isn’t just beneficial to the advertiser. It’s nice for the customers as well. In particular, Local Service Ads promises three prime benefits to users:
- Immediacy: the top three ads on the results page allow consumers to select from a limited number of service providers that will promptly reply with a solution
- Convenience: Reviews, service and business details, and other decision-making information is organized in one place for customers
- Trust: Users know that the options Google presents are pre-screened, and only well-reviewed options get offered. Plus, I may be covered by a guaranteed $2K if something unexpected goes wrong.
I don’t even like answering the doorbell and get overwhelmed with options easily. So it’s nice to know that the people I book are the most reputable, responsive vendors with a track record of success in my community.
The Verdict on Local Service Ads
All in all, Local Service Ads sound like a pretty sweet deal, especially if you’re a business that provides valuable services locally.
- Advertisers only pay for leads
- You gain customer trust with the Google Guarantee, and Google Screened icons
- Ratings ★★★★★ are a vital rank factor and feature in the Local Service placements
- Don’t replace PPC! Local Service ads work well in a holistic ad strategy
- Google will qualify customers with local buying intent for you
- You’ll get featured on multiple sources like desktop, mobile, and voice ads
- Local Services is pretty low maintenance without keywords to manage
This is a new ad type but represents a huge opportunity to get in front of pre-qualified customers without a ton of investment (in time or money) on your part. So get out there and claim that SERP real estate!