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What Are Google Local Service Ads and How Can They Help Your Business?

Sinoun Chea

In recent years Google has made progress in leaps and bounds, especially when it comes to advertising online. Their PPC (Pay-per-click) advertisement model has revolutionized and redefined digital marketing, making strategic decisions for online marketing more important than ever.

Capitalizing on the immense popularity of Adsense, Google has a separate advertisement service known as Google Local Ads for service based businesses. Launched recently, this PPC ad service is targeted for day-to-day service providers in five handyman categories all across the USA. The target professions are HVAC contractors, plumbers, garage door contractors, locksmiths and electricians. While these are the core categories, there are additional services available in certain markets where there is a demand for them. California, for example, includes towing, painting, and cleaning services.

As of now Google Local Service Ads are operating in 30 U.S. markets, but it will soon increase as Google is rapidly expanding into other locations with more services. So those who are in the service industry should capitalize on Google Service Ads as they provide unlimited potential to win over new customers.

It would certainly be nice to enjoy the top position in the first page of search results as well the increase in business opportunities. So let’s take a look at what are Google Local Service Ads and how they can help to sustain and improve your business.

How It All Started

What is known as Google Local Ad Service today was initially a beta program launched under the title ‘Home Service Ads’ way back in 2015.

Initially the processes and procedures for enlisting and providing services was very similar to Uber, where the contractors had to provide license and insurance documentation to prove the services provided by them were professional and legitimate. At first, customers using the service could make quote requests to compare prices, but that facility is no longer available as it now operates under similar principles to Google Adsense.

Keeping the screening process intact to ensure quality and standard of work, the program was relaunched as ‘Google Local Service Ads’ last year. By providing all requisite business documents as well as having a background check done by Pinkerton, providers become ‘Google Guaranteed’. This means that if the customer is dissatisfied with the provider’s service, Google covers the amount mentioned in the invoice (up to $2,000) and returns the money to the customer.

Rapidly expanding its market penetration, Google Local Ad Service is the next go-to destination for eager and hard-working service providers.

How Google Local Service Ads Work

If you’re already familiar with the processes and techniques of Google Adsense, then you should feel right at home with Local Service Ads.

First the local customer enters the required keywords in the search engine and the result appears according to input. Let’s say someone from Sacremento types ‘plumbers near me’ in Google. Once the keywords are entered, it triggers the PPC ads for plumbers in the Sacramento area at the top of the search results after verifying the IP location of the query.

The ads contain basic details of the company and contact information so that customers can easily call them up. The ads are available for both desktop and mobile devices with mobile devices showing slightly less details than the desktop version.

An important aspect of the PPC Ads is that they also show the reviews of the companies, which makes it easier for the customer to decide whether they want to employ the services of the business or not. So naturally service providers and provider companies that have high reviews and ratings will benefit more from Google Local Service Ads.

The desktop version of Google displays more ads due to the screen size advantage, while the user needs to scroll down on their mobile device to check further ads below the initial two ads shown on the screen.

No More Keyword Targeting

One of the biggest characteristics of Google Local Service Ads is that though it bears a few resemblances with Google Adsense, the advertising is not done by targeting keywords—which is a major game changer. All service providers are given a fair chance as they have to enlist themselves in predetermined categories.

The keyword data is not provided to the service providers as they are decided by the search engine algorithms. In case a service provider feels that Google Local Service Ads is not being productive for their business at the moment, they can always pause the ads from their dashboard. Pausing an ad actually doesn’t remove it from search results, but it does eliminate the ‘Google Guarantee’ badge and move the listing below paid ads. During the pause period there are no charges made on the leads acquired at that time.

Getting Started with Google Local Service Ads

If you want to be a service provider on Google Local Service Ads all you have to do is follow Google’s application process and wait a response.

If you’re already a well established key player in your respective service fields, it’s not uncommon for Google to reach out to you directly via phone or email to request you to participate before you even put in an application. While this might sound phony and fishy as a reputed tech giant like Google has never taken such a cold-call approach before, business owners should always respond and ask for additional verification if they have been contacted.

Remember, unlike Google Adsense, Google is trying to build up a dependable network of service providers; this is something totally different from Google Adsense as no direct sales are being made and it all boils down to prospective lead generation for business owners. We’ll discuss this more elaborately in this article since there is a lot of confusion following it’s similarities with Google Adwords in many aspects.

Since local service ads are comparatively new in the digital marketing scenario, you might raise questions about its viability, especially for large and established service providers and contractors who have been working for decades. But anything new takes time to set in and since it’s free and without any binding contracts, service providers should at least sign up before things get expensive.

Just take Google Analytics for example; it used to be a totally free comprehensive database for keyword research but now all the best features are locked unless you run a Google Adword campaign.

How Much Does It Cost to Set Up a Google Local Service Ad Campaign?

When it comes to running a Google Local Service campaign, the setup is very easy to understand. The campaigns run on a fixed weekly budget and charges are made for any and all acquired leads through the campaign.

The lead fee varies from market to market according to demand and supply. An electrician’s lead may be $15 in Detroit but $30 in New York. The lead charges are fixed and fair for all local service providers and companies. Another thing to note is that the number of listings can vary based on the number of service providers in that category. There might be ad listings for 20 electricians in New York whereas in a small town in California it might just be two. If interested, a service provider should analyze and evaluate the local market before starting a Google Local Service Ads campaign to maximize benefits.

Main Differences Between Google Adwords and Google Local Service Ads

Even though they have their similarities on the surface and a Google Adwords account is required for billing, Google Adwords and the comparatively new Google Local Service Ads are completely separate Google products. In fact, one can run both campaigns at the same time with separate budget preferences without conflicting with each other.

Adwords targets keywords, while this new platform targets service categories. Additionally, local service ads place priority on helping customers find quality businesses with a proven track record for success, as evident by their inclusion of review data.

If the service provider is listed in a Google My Business Listing then review data from the listing is shown in the ad display. Google works around the clock to authenticate the reviews businesses receive from clients. You may have heard of Google verified reviews; well these reviews are essentially the ones left by clients that are acquired through the Google Ads leads. Thus, they are almost impossible to fake.

Currently Active Markets of Google Local Service Ads

While the current number of categories is limited, Google is experimenting with different categories in the markets it has expanded in. With more emerging and experimental categories such as event management, photography, and music lessons being popular in many of the markets, it is safe to say that the number of categories will expand more in the immediate future.

The current list of Google Local Service Ads markets in the USA can be found here. In the last few months Google Local Service Ads have reportedly also been up and running in a few cities like Indianapolis, IN, Louisville, KY, Portland, OR, and Salt Lake City, UT. By the end of 2018 there could be a huge increase in the number of cities and service providers available on Google Local Service Ads.

Get More Leads With Google Local Service Ads Today

All things said, it’s guaranteed that Google Local Service Ads is the next big thing in the service market. Thinking of running a campaign for yourself or want to clarify things a bit more? Schedule a call and we’ll be more than happy to help you learn more about how Google Local Service Ads can help grow your business.

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Sinoun Chea

I help small businesses Do Better Online™. When businesses thrive, people also thrive. #morethanjustbusiness

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