What Your Clients Need to Know About Google Local Services Ads
As a marketing expert, you want to be sure you’re staying on top of all the latest trends and tools that can give your clients their best shot at standing out in a crowded marketplace.
A few weeks ago, I discussed how to help your clients create great local content. This week, I want to expand on that theme and look at how you can help expand their local advertising efforts.
For those of you servicing business owners who are tradesmen, technicians, or providers of other services to homeowners, Google Local Services is a platform that should be on your radar screen.
What are Google Local Services Ads?
Launched in 2015, the platform is an advertising and verification system for local service providers—from electricians to pet sitters to house cleaners—and is now available in 30 cities across the U.S.
When you search for a service provider in a given location (say, for example, “Atlanta plumber”), the local services results appear at the top of the page, ahead of even the sponsored search results.
How Do They Sign Up?
If this platform sounds like a good fit for one of your clients, the application process is fairly simple. After filling out basic contact information online, Google will verify the business information they provided and then establish a profile for the business. This includes a verification of local licenses and insurance, plus employee background checks performed by a third party.
How Do Local Services Ads Increase Visibility?
Local services ads show up at the top of all Google search results for a given geographical location. This means that those business owners are getting their names out there ahead of even the sponsored ads and top-rated providers on Yelp.
I’ve written before about the importance of making sure your clients are on the first page of local search results, and Local Services ads guarantee that they’ll be front and center.
Will It Really Generate Leads?
One of the benefits to the platform is that there is a verification process for all providers who are included in the search results. This “Google guarantee” symbol appears next to the business owner’s name, and it gives those searching for a particular service some assurance that a provider is legitimate.
Not only that, but Google takes things a step further and has a money-back guarantee for those who choose to work with a Google guaranteed business. If a client is unsatisfied with the work for some reason, Google will refund up to $2,000 in fees. This means that the business owner can have the piece of mind that they’ll always receive money for their work, while the homeowner will feel more secure in trying a new service provider with little to no financial risk.
What’s the Payment Structure?
With Local Services ads, business owners only pay for leads, not clicks. They are able to set an ad budget for the month, with a weekly target for leads and budget for each week. As the platform generates leads, business owners are charged on a weekly basis, which means the cost may vary from week to week. However, they’re never charged more than their monthly limit, and they’re also able to pause their ads at any time.
What Other Benefits Does the Platform Provide?
In addition to being a great ad tool, the Local Services platform provides business owners with an account where they can manage all leads, communicate with customers, track bookings, and view reports about their ad’s performance. It’s essentially a mini-CRM and ad-tracking tool all in one.
The account also covers other essential functions, such as pausing ads if there’s already too much work to go around, and disputing charges if the business owner feels that a lead they were charged for was not legitimate.
How Does Google Decide Search Rankings?
If your business owner is in a larger market (and for the most part, Local Services ads are targeted at those in bigger cities), there are likely a couple hundred businesses at least using the platform. Where will your client’s name fall in the search results rankings?
Unfortunately (though not unsurprisingly), Google does not provide full transparency into how the order in which businesses are displayed is determined. It’s some combination of ratings and reviews, location, and ability to respond right away, plus other factors. In this previous post, I gave some tips for improving search rankings on the service.
Can Business Owners Choose Target Words for Their Ads?
The answer here is no. Unlike with other forms of online ads, Local Services ad results are based on keywords that are chosen by Google. The business owner merely selects the relevant category in “job types” and Google does the rest. This can be seen as either a pro, for those business owners who might not be so SEO savvy, or a con, because it takes away some visibility for business owners who then aren’t able to see what keywords are generating leads for them.
What if My Client’s Business Isn’t Eligible?
The Local Services platform is still fairly new, and it’s rapidly expanding. It started in the San Francisco area in 2015 and only covered a handful of job types. Now it’s all across the U.S., and in some areas it’s expanded to include new job types like photographers and event planners, which is outside of the scope of home services it originally covered.
Just because a business isn’t eligible today doesn’t mean that it won’t be tomorrow, and there’s no harm in letting all your clients know about the service, even if they can’t use it right now. It’s always better to be ahead of the curve in the ever-changing online marketing landscape!
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Advertising.