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The organic #1 rank is a highly competitive spot where local businesses are often outrun by national service providers and big companies with big SEO budgets. Even the absolute top placement of PPC ads can get expensive if your competitor’s budget is shamelessly generous.
Luckily, local search has different rules. Several of Google’s marketing products cater to local businesses and have a mission to connect customers with the best businesses “near you.”
And so, you could have something better than the organic #1. You could be holding Position 0 with Local Services Ads.
Local Services Ads
Local Services Ads or LSAs are Google’s offering to local service providers. They appear above paid, organic, and local results, technically holding Position 0. These ads are the absolute first things a searcher sees, a very tempting offer, indeed.
While you pay for every click on Google Ads (pay-per-click advertising), Local Services Ads charge you only for qualified leads (pay-per-lead). This means that you pay only when a customer contacts you or schedules a booking through Google. Even then, you have the option to dispute the charge if the lead proves to be spam or a poor match. Relevance is key for both advertisers and searchers.
A part of launching LSAs is getting the Google Guaranteed badge. This is a small, round, green circle that appears next to your company name and verifies your credibility as a local home services provider. It is essentially an endorsement from Google and an indication of trust.
Here’s what LSAs look like for HVAC specialists:
Google Ads vs. Local Services Ads: Which One Is Cheaper?
If you’re already running Google Ads, you may be wondering if it’s worth switching. Not just yet.
Both Google Search and Display Ads are much cheaper, but this comparison is unfair. All it means is that you pay less for a click and more for a qualified lead. But that makes sense, doesn’t it?
An average lead that was generated through Local Services Ads will cost about $6-$30. It can be higher if your industry is particularly competitive. However, if trust and credibility play a crucial role in your Buyer’s Journey, LSAs can give you a boost worth paying for. They are the next best thing after reviews since they’re virtually a review by Google.
Here’s a quick experiment: Google your company services. If you don’t see LSA ads in your area but your location and industry qualify, you may have just uncovered a golden opportunity.
Appear on Voice Search
Google is becoming more human. Its latest “human” feature is voice search, which will increase in volume in the coming years. We can already see the overwhelming number of voice search queries in our weekly PPC search terms reports. They are human, personal, and highly relevant to the problem your customer is experiencing. LSAs are a good way of earning points on voice search since Google will be incorporating these to deliver more accurate results.
With minimal maintenance, optimization, and full automation by Google, your only task remains to decline or approve the leads on Google’s platform. Timing will be key.
Google Guaranteed for Local Home Services Providers
Google Guaranteed is a badge and an endorsement from Google. It means that Google has done extensive background, insurance, and license checks and verifies that the company is reliable. All home services providers must obtain this badge to run Local Services Ads.
The platform allows users to call, schedule a booking and may offer a guaranteed lifetime reimbursement of up to $2000 for US businesses if the customer is unsatisfied with the service. Google Guaranteed listings rank based on positive reviews and proximity to the searcher.
Here’s an example of a Google Guaranteed listing. Notice the green checkmark:
You can find the list of eligible industries for the Google Guaranteed program here.
If you’re not a home services provider, but qualify for certain sub-categories of a professional services provider, you may be eligible for the Google Screened program instead.
Google Screened for Professional Services
Google Screened is another program born to instill greater confidence in the company. This program, however, is meant for professional services providers. At the moment, it only covers Law, Financial Planning, and Real Estate companies, but the list is likely to expand in the future, so keep a close watch.
It carries the same message: Google confirms that you are a reliable business. The process of getting Google Screened is similar to the Google Guaranteed program. Your company will go through extensive background, license, and insurance checks. The process may take up to 5 weeks and may include several employees and the leadership team. The result, though, is worth it.
An example of Google Screened ads for family lawyers:
So, Should You Be Doing LSAs?
Apart from lead generation, both Google Guaranteed and Google Screened accomplish one important thing – they boost your online reputation. They are useful tools for your consideration stage, where a badge from Google can immediately establish trust and help your customers decide in your favor.
The Local Service Ads are a whole different story. There are certain aspects that you should consider before giving LSAs a green light.
The best way is to consult your digital marketing agency. They know your marketing strategy, your audience, the Buyer’s Journey of your product, key touchpoints, and other web insights. They will be able to point in the right direction.
The bottom line is that you should at least include LSAs in your marketing brainstorming sessions for the next quarter. Ask your team to conduct initial competitor research and calculate the average pay-per-lead cost to expect. If your service is worth much more than this rate, LSAs may generate more qualified leads than your display campaigns ever will. So, you will profit in the end.
A few things to consider:
- You must be ready to provide extensive documentation to Google or its partner companies. This documentation may extend beyond your company to customer service, sales, and other employees.
- You must have a dedicated person or a team managing the leads. Timing is crucial, you’re losing leads by the hour.
- LSAs, Google Guaranteed, and Google Screened are not replacements for Google My Business or Google Ads. You should continue optimizing your website and company information on all available and relevant Google products.
- The Google Guaranteed program is not free and costs $50 per month if used outside of the Local Services Ads.
More importantly, remember that if you’re not holding Position 0, it’s probably going to your competitor. The opportunity is presented, now you just have to seize it.
Do you need expert guidance in exploring Local Services Ads for your company? Give Waypost Marketing a call for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand if LSAs or other Google marketing products are a good fit for you.