How to Use Google Local Service Ads for Your Business

Google Local Search Ads (also known as Google Local Service Ads) are pay-per-lead ads that appear at the top of the search results, above organic results and traditional Google Ads. To be included, a business must first pass a screening process that involves background checks, license checks, and insurance checks. The specific checks will vary depending on the business type and where they are located.

Here’s how Local Services Ads might look in desktop search results

Meanwhile, here’s an example of the results from a mobile search:

Where do Google Local Search Ads appear?

Google Local Service Ads appear at the top of the search results, above organic results and traditional Google Ads.

The user is presented with three ads on desktop and two ads on mobile. At the bottom of the ad unit, the user can click or tap to view additional ads for businesses.

The number of ads in a market and within specific categories can vary quite a bit. You might see only a few or you might see dozens. It just depends on how many businesses are in the category in that market. The most ads I’ve seen after clicking through to view the entire list for a specific search is 100, so that may be the maximum.

This is what you’ll be presented with if you choose to expand the ad unit on desktop:

When do Local Services Ads appear in the search results?

The ads may appear for search queries relating to certain business types including several categories of home services businesses, financial planners, certain lawyer types, and real estate agents.

Here are some examples of different business types results:

Which business types can participate in Local Services Ads?

In the United States, the following business types are eligible to sign up for Local Services Ads:

Appliance repair
Carpet Cleaning
Countertop services
Financial planning
Garage doors
House Cleaning
Junk removal
Lawn care
Pest control
Real estate
Tax services
Tree services
Water damage services
Window cleaning
Window services

What is the difference between Google Guaranteed and Google Screened?

In addition to prime placement in the search results, Local Services Ads have labels that help them stand out: Google Guaranteed and Google Screened.

The Google Guarantee means a business has passed the screening and qualification process and that Google will back the work of the business. If a customer that booked service via a Local Services Ad is not satisfied with the quality of the work, Google might reimburse the customer up to the amount they paid for the service (with a lifetime cap per customer of $2,000 in the United States).

The Google Screened designation indicates the business has also passed the necessary screening and qualification process but is not backed by the guarantee.

Whether a business is Google Guaranteed or Google Screened comes down to the business type. You will not see Google Guaranteed and Google Screened Local Services Ads in the same result because they apply to different business categories: ‘home services’ (Google Guaranteed) and ‘professional services’ (Google Screened).

Examples of ‘home services’ businesses include plumbers, locksmiths, electricians while ‘professional services’ include lawyers, real estate agents, and financial planners. Only businesses that provide professional services including law, financial planning, and real estate are eligible for the Google Screened badge. These categories are currently only available in the US.

Are LSAs worth it?

Absolutely. There’s no cost to sign up or obligation to participate.

The onboarding process can be quite cumbersome, but once enrolled, a company will be able to objectively determine whether it’s a good fit for their business. If they determine it’s not, they can pause the ad and no longer incur Google Local Service Ads costs. Their listing will simply be placed among the free listings in a section below the paid listings, although Google may eventually remove them after a long period of inactivity.

Additionally, LSAs offer several fringe benefits:

Recorded phone calls (US and Canada)
Ability to dispute charged leads (US and Canada)
No fees to participate — you only pay for the leads
Low lead costs (this will vary by business type and region)
Easy to manage

Do you need a Google My Business listing to get Local Services Ads?

No, you don’t need to have a Google My Business (GMB) listing to be eligible for LSAs, but there is a connection between the two. Google combines LSAs and GMB reviews to generate the rating and review count that appears on the Local Services Ad.

Not only is the star rating and review count an important piece of a Local Services Ad visually, but it’s also a ranking factor.

You do not need to use the same Google account for Google My Business and Local Services Ads.

What are the ranking factors of Local Services Ads?

Placement within the ad unit is based on several factors. Google provides the following information about some of the factors they use:

Your verification status and whether you obtained a Google badge of trust (Screened — U.S. only — or Guaranteed) or not

The context of the person’s search. When calculating rankings we look at the search terms the person has entered, the time of the search, and other user signals and attributes.

Your review score and the number of reviews you receive.

Your responsiveness to customer inquiries and requests.

Your proximity to potential customers’ locations.

Your business hours.

Whether or not we’ve received serious or repeated complaints about your business.

Companies that benefit the most from this ad format will most likely be those that are able to maintain a high relative review rating combined with strong brand awareness in their local markets.

How much do Local Services Ads leads cost?

Cost per lead will vary depending on several factors, including business type and location. I’ve seen leads costs as low as $5 in the past for locksmiths in some markets while leads for lawyers can be over $200.

Leads used to have a fixed cost which meant a business would be charged the same amount per lead as their competitors. This began to change in September 2020 as Google started rolling out the bid mode option. The previous fixed rate then became the minimum cost per lead.

Now, businesses can choose if they are willing to pay a higher amount per lead. If so, they can set a high maximum amount, potentially improving their position in the ad results. The maximum bid amount a business can select is typically 2.5x the minimum bid, so it is capped. Additionally, instead of picking a specific amount per lead, a business has the option to choose “Maximize leads”, which Google recommends. This option lets Google set the bid to supposedly get the most leads for your set budget.

To start using Local Service Ads for your business today….connect with us at WAY Nation Solutions. We are your Local Service Ads Experts.