Local Service Ads is a product designed by Google specifically for local business leads. Originally called “home service ads,” it has since grown to encompass many more services and locations. These ads work well because they target people already poised for action, local searchers.
Google local service ads differ from traditional Google ads several ways:
- You pay only for qualified leads not clicks
- They include a Google endorsement if your company qualifies
- The ads target categories not keywords
- Local service ads may return a better ROI
Get ahead of the game
Local search can be fiercely competitive. With only space for 3 businesses to occupy the “3 pack,” it may make sense to “buy your way in,” particularly as many of these searchers are “buyers” and not “shoppers.”
Local service ads occupy the space at the top of the screen. On a mobile device, the ads takes up can the whole screen. This is important since “above the fold” listings receive many more clicks than below the fold and repeated studies show that local searchers are often looking to take action to either call a business or check for other pertinent information, such as opening hours.
This is especially true when the search originates from a smartphone. It’s common knowledge that mobile devices surpass desktops for use and convenience. If smartphone users are ready to take action, and they are shown a local service ad the top of their screen, there’s a good chance they’re going to go with it.
Local Service Ads are designed to show only the best, most qualified providers. After all, Google publicly recommends most of them. Since most of these providers are highly rated, it is entirely possible that the rest of the bunch (not paid ads), don’t get a second thought.
How are local service ads charged? Each lead typically costs between $10-$30, whether you are charged or not depends on:
- The length of the call (Google does not elaborate on this)
- Whether its spam or not; such as an automated call, or a request for a service not offered
It is recommended to have some sort of call tracking and recording program or system is used so you know what you are getting for your money. Tracking the calls will help provide the information you need in case of a dispute.
Local service ads use prime screen space
In the past Google ads were a sidebar, positioned out of the way, to the right of a list of results on a desktop. Now on smaller devices, screen real estate is at a premium and these ads are front and center. They are an integral part of the local shoppers’ journey. In fact, since these people are ready to act and Local Service Ads are geared towards that very action, it makes sense for everyone. These are targeted ads which serve their purpose well, so that leaves the question: Where is the future of free, organic listings?
The short answer is that Local Service Ads are not a supplement to the ordinary search results, they are a major part of it. It comes down to a few simple factors:
- How much does Google emphasize the feature in the future? Google is taking its time with the program. It has been in beta for some time now. The listings were at one time part of the map pack.
- How responsive will local businesses be in the program? Local Service Ads are not seen in every part of the country and may not be for some time to come. For the program to be effective, Google needs qualified businesses to embrace the program. So far, evidence suggests that this is a hurdle that Google has not cleared in many parts of the country.
- The type of business. When Local Business Ads were rolled out in 2015, the program was meant for home service professionals only, plumbers, electricians, etc. Google may expand that list to include other niches and professions. The more local businesses that qualify for and sign up for Local Service Ads, the greater impact it will have on free, organic listings. While others may be added, it is likely that local service ads will not encompass every type of local business.
Local Service Ads are becoming a significant component of the local shoppers’ journey. They align well with existing “free” listings, but crucially, they outrank them most of the time. If your business isn’t already in the 3-pack, it may be a good investment to try Local Service Ads. However, it is important to remember that you must still prove yourself. If you don’t have the best rating, it is unlikely you will be able to compete. Still, it’s no money lost if you don’t get any leads. If you think it may be a program your business will benefit from, you can see if you qualify on the sign up page.