Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) can be incredibly effective, but what are they? Why are they different from Google Ads, and who can use them?
Well, the clue’s in the name, as they say. Google provides a list per country showing which types of local businesses are eligible for these ads, so you can check if you’re able to sign up before going too deep into this article.
But if you choose to stick around, in this article we’re going to explore what Local Services Ads are and how you can improve Google Local Services Ads ROI.
What are Google Local Services Ads and how do they differ from Google Ads?
At the very top of the search results, you’ll see three boxes each with a green checkmark badge. These are the Local Services Ads. Potential customers will be able to see your contact number, hours, reviews, and ratings. Ads are chosen based on the service searched for and what area the searcher is in.
Obviously, this is a prime position that should get your business a lot of attention and attract the right leads.
However, in order to run these ads, you will need to apply and go through a comprehensive verification process, including background checks on your main team members. You will also need at least a 3.0 review average to run these ads.
What that gives you, as well as great positioning, is a level of trust from your customers because they know Google has verified you. They also get a 2000-dollar guarantee on your work in case there are any problems. This removes a lot of the worry and doubts a prospective customer has prior to saying “yes” to a small business.
In addition, with these ads, you’re paying for leads not for clicks. And you only pay if a qualified lead contacts you via the ad, either by filling in a form or by having a phone call lasting at least two minutes.
It really doesn’t get more targeted than that.
Google Ads appear below the LSAs in the search results and only consist of text. With these standard ads, you are paying per click, not per lead. The ranking factors are different too. With Google Ads, your rank is based on ad quality, your bid, and other factors. With LSAs, your ranking is instead based on proximity, your opening hours (if you’re available when the search is done), and your customer reviews, among other factors too of course.
If you can run LSAs for your type of business and you get through verification, it is well worth adding these ads to your marketing mix.
Tips to improve your ads
Marketing and advertising of any kind can be costly if you don’t have a sound strategy to follow, so it’s important to do your homework and learn everything you can about how to make the most of your marketing spend. Read on for our top tips on how to improve Google Local Services Ads ROI.
Before getting started with LSAs, check your online presence. It’s not enough to rely on ads. Your business needs to make a great impression everywhere anyone looks on the internet. You need to be ready to receive visitors and have a plan in place for what to do with your leads and how to guide them through your sales funnel.
Your website should reflect your brand. It should be clear, with excellent content written in your brand voice. The design should be up to date and easy on the eye. It should also be clear where you want your leads to go and what you want them to do.
In addition, you need to optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP). Ensure it’s completely filled in, that it’s attractive, with quality images and information. You’ll also need to be active on your GBP, responding to messages and asking for and replying to reviews. Your GBP reviews are shown on your LSAs, and they contribute to your review average, which is important for keeping your ads live.
Ensure your social media is current, vibrant, and reflects your brand.
Finally, check your business listings. Again, they should be well presented and reflective of your brand.
Everything should be consistent across your online presence. In particular, your details and company information must be consistent. You need to ensure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are the same everywhere as this can cause confusion for customers and cause Google to wonder if all the variations are different businesses, which can affect your ranking.
You need to be customer-ready everywhere before you’re ready to advertise.
Follow the checklist above first, and then check out our tips below on how to improve Google Local Services Ads ROI.
1. Choose Your Account Type
You can have either an individual ad account or a manager account, known as an MCC.
If you’re a business that only serves one area, you should be fine with an individual account, but if you have multiple branches and areas that you cover, it’s better to have a manager account.
As it’s difficult to change this once your account is set up, it is probably better to choose a manager account from the start in case you decide to grow your business later. With an MCC account, you’ll also get access to MCC reporting, shared assets, and billing, which could be informative. In addition, with an individual account, you can only share account access with one other email address. If you have several people that need access to your advertising statistics, you’re better off with a manager account.
As you’ll see in our next point, it’s better to only have three major targets for each profile. With a manager account, you can set up one LSA profile per three targets and have multiple LSA profiles that you can log into without leaving your MCC. Otherwise, you’d need multiple individual accounts to do the same thing and you’d need to log into and out of each one individually to manage them.
2. Choose Your Markets
When you set up a marketing campaign, you don’t usually set it up to target multiple markets. You refine your campaign and laser focus it to get the results you want in the areas you want. Think of your LSA ads in the same way and don’t choose more than three markets for each one. Otherwise, you could affect your rankings and reduce your focus.
Ideally, for each location you have, you need one LSA profile focusing on one target market, linked to one Google Business Profile.
However, if you only have one Google Business Profile, but also serve multiple areas, then ensure that you select areas as close as possible to your main service areas. The reason for this is that one of Google’s ranking factors is proximity. You want to benefit as much as possible from this factor.
One thing to note is that Designated Marketing Areas (DMAs) are set areas decided upon by Nielsen. The more people in your chosen DMA(s), the more your advertising will cost. Obviously, you want to choose the right areas where your potential customers are, but you need to balance that with how much each area costs. There’s no point in choosing an area that’s so expensive that you can’t make it pay. Take your time with this.
3. Watch Out for Disapprovals
Your Google Ads may be disapproved for a whole host of reasons, including Google not being able to reach your landing page, too much capitalization in your ad, poor grammar, poor image quality, and more.
However, two of the most common ones that you might encounter are easy fixes.
When you apply for an account for these ads, you’ll need to provide proof of any relevant certifications. If any of these certifications expire, then your ads will stop and you’ll get a disapproval notice until you update your certificate.
You can either diarize to do this update each year or, if your certifications never expire, simply set an expiry date that’s far in the future so you don’t have to keep updating. However, if you do this, again, it’s a good idea to add that expiry date to your calendar so you don’t forget to update it at the time.
Your images need to be high-quality wherever you use them. Poor quality images reflect badly on your business whether they’re on your website, social media, or included in these ads.
Poor quality images could also get your ad disallowed, so do take care.
If you want to get into Google’s other ad guidelines, check out their Advertising Policies page.
4. Keep Your Average Review Score Up
Your LSAs will only run if you have an average review score of 3.0 or above. It’s really important that you continue to get good reviews on your Google Business Profile to keep your average up. Should your average score go below 3.0, your LSAs will stop running completely until you get your score back up to that level.
Good reviews are obviously extremely important to your business anyway. They provide important social proof and user-generated content to show potential customers what it’s like to buy from your business. In addition, when you run LSAs, your latest ads from your Google Business Profile will show up on your ad, so it definitely matters that you’re getting good ones. You don’t want to lose business because a poor review pops up on your latest Local Services Ad.
Two other tips to bear in mind about your reviews:
Any reviews you get from your LSAs don’t also show up on your Google Business Profile.
Should you stop using LSAs, any reviews you get via those ads will disappear. If you get some really good ones, why not copy and paste them into a document so you can use them on your own website and in marketing copy?
5. Watch Your Budget
Decide how much you’re prepared to spend on LSAs, while bearing in mind your complete marketing budget. As we said above, DMAs can cost different amounts depending on which ones you are targeting and the cost of leads will vary depending on your type of business. Work out what income result you want from your ads and then you can divide the total income by your likely income per job to work out how many leads per month you need to reach your income goal.
As with any type of ad, keep a close eye on your budget and ensure you’re not spending so much per lead that it affects your profits.
Over time, you’ll have statistics you can refer back to so you can see how your ads are performing.
One other thing to be aware of is that Google tends to underspend on these ads and you may need to increase your budget over and above what you actually want to spend just to get Google to spend the amount you really do want. While doing that might sound scary, particularly if you’re on a very tight budget, keep a regular eye on your ad spend. You can always lower or increase your budget to suit how your ads are performing.
6. Set the Correct Opening Hours
When you add in your business information, ensure that you set only the hours where you can definitely respond to your customers.
It might be tempting to claim that you are open 24/7, but if you know you really can’t keep that up, don’t include that in your LSA information. Just put the hours where you know you are available and can provide a great, quick service.
There are several reasons for this:
1) With these ads, the faster you respond to your leads, the more likely you are to get the job. If you aren’t there to respond, it can make your ads to be shown less often.
2) If you say you’re available 24/7 and you’re not, you’re spending money on these ads when you don’t need to. Save your budget for the hours when you’re actually open.
3) Obviously, if you claim you’re available in the middle of the night and customers can’t get hold of you when they need you, that could result in poor reviews and comments on social media. We’ve already talked about how important your average review score is in keeping these ads going. It’s important that you do everything you can to keep your score up, not pull it down. Don’t claim what you can’t deliver.
7. Manage Your Leads
When you run LSAs, Google continues to learn where to allocate your budget over time. You can train Google away from sending you poor leads by archiving the ones that don’t suit you.
Conversely, you can also mark each good lead as closed successfully when you get the job. This trains Google to show you more leads like that and fewer leads that are less of a good fit.
Bonus Tip! Combine Your Ads
When your potential customer (let’s call him “Dave”) searches for a home services contractor, for example, on Google, then three LSAs will be shown at the top of Dave’s search results.
If you also use Google Ads to promote your business, you could appear on the same page via your Google Ad too.
And below the Google Ads are Google’s general search results, which might well bring up your Google Business Profile, if it’s fully optimized.
Dave could potentially see three mentions of your company on page one of the search results.
If you’re also running Facebook ads, placing a Facebook pixel on your website will help you remarket to people on Facebook. Dave may see your company come up again as a Facebook ad next time he visits that platform. Retargeting pixels can have the same effect, showing your ads to Dave across other websites and social platforms.
Why does this help? It’s estimated that potential customers need around seven touchpoints before they are convinced to buy. If you’re using a combination of LSAs, Google Ads, and other marketing, then Dave, your potential customer, might see your business seven times in just one day.
That gets Dave through the “Know, Like, and Trust” phases of the customer journey faster than he otherwise might. Using different ads and marketing together could see Dave buying from you over one of your competitors that isn’t using ads as effectively.
Google Ads and Local Services Ads can have a learning curve. If you’d like to get a head start on making the most of these ads, we can help. Surefire Local is a Google Premier Partner, giving you a head start when going through verification for an LSA account. We can help get you signed up, background checked, and verified, and our marketing experts can help you improve Google Local Services Ads ROI. Want to know more? Why not attend a demo of our business intelligence marketing software? We’ll do a deep dive into these ads and show you how you can dominate your local area and bring in new, targeted leads.