If you’re like me and have been in digital marketing for home service entrepreneurs for 10+ years, you’ve seen A LOT of changes. I can remember when success was defined by how big your ads was in the “Real” Yellow Pages. A lot has changed over the years with the #1 biggest opportunity being Google Local Service Ads, A.K.A. Google LSA, A.K.A. Google Guaranteed.
Whether you’ve never heard of LSA or you’ve been using it for a while, this post is meant to introduce, educate and help optimize your account to start running and winning with Google Local Service Ads today!
Why did Google add a whole new Ads engine when they already have Google Ads?
Let’s start with the WHY. According to the New York Times, Google’s Parent Company, Alphabet recorded 18.4 Billion (with a B) in profits for Q3 2021 (3 months profit). That sounds like a healthy amount of profits. So why do they need to add / expand on their current service offering?
There are just a few reasons Google started Google Local Service Ads
- A better user experience: One of the biggest factors to online shoppers is trust. In today’s world, any savvy online marketer can have a product, landing page and marketing engine setup to start driving leads and sales in under one business day. With this much power, having a way to validate professional companies has become exponentially more important over the past few years. With the Google Guaranteed Badge, customers now know who’s been vetted and passed Google’s guidelines.
- 3rd Party Lead Aggregators hurt Google’s place as the leading search engine: (Yelp, AngiLeads, etc.) Companies like Yelp and other online lead / social platforms have become billion dollar behemoths mostly due to their incredible ability to rank for your best search terms. Here’s an example…
Say you’re a window cleaner from Denver. When a customer searches “window cleaners near me” in Denver, what do they see? Sure, they might find your company, but they’re also guaranteed to see all the aforementioned aggregators. Google is supposed to be the authority. But instead a search for “best maid service” shows YELP, Angie’s List and other companies saying they’ve got the 10 Best. Isn’t that what Google’s supposed to do? Hence, Google Ads / Local Service Ads primary goal is to generate more revenue by generating more clicks to and from Google Properties.
- Google Wants to monetize as much of their results as possible: Clicks and Ad revenue are by far the biggest money makers for search engines. When they can generate more paid clicks than free clicks, they and their shareholders make more money. The move to LSA is genius. First, it’s a new way for Google to monetize their engine. Second, they’ve done this by validating a user’s click by putting a badge next to their brand. Genius!
What’s the difference between Google Ads and Google Local Service Ads?
The most important thing to know is that they’re both paid placements on Google’s search engine. With Google Ads, you pay for clicks. With Google Local Service Ads, you pay for calls. For the purpose of this article, I’m not going into Google Ads CPM targeting and instead focusing on the most common use of Google Ads for home service companies which is called the Google Search Network.
Next is control. With Google Ads, you have an almost unlimited amount of control over your service offering, keywords, bidding, geography, ad copy, landing page design, demographic filters, device and many more. With Google Local Service Ads, you only control your service offering, geography and bidding. The biggest benefit though is that you don’t pay for clicks, only calls making the management exponentially less arduous than Google Ads. I highly recommend having an expert manage your Google Ads account. However, I don’t see any reason after reading this article, you could not manage your LSA on your own.
Signing up for Google Local Service Ads: Getting started with Google Local Service Ads is relatively easy. As long as you have access to your proof of insurance, business license(if applicable), and are able to pass a background check, you’re good to go. Please note that some industries require ALL technicians to pass a background check while others do not. Once you get started, there is some basic account information you’ll want to enter.
- Hours of operation & whether you’re currently taking customers
- COVID-19 precautions (if applicable)
- Service area
- Job types (categories & Subcategories
- Weekly budget
- Add photos
- Setup messaging
- Sync with your CRM (if applicable)
What services are qualified to run Google Local Service Ads: When signing up an, I’d say the most important factor to consider with Google Local Service Ads is your industry, the primary services and subcategories. We’ve worked with too many customers to count who initially signed up with the wrong industry or didn’t sign up at all because they couldn’t find their service offering in the primary service category list. As an example, the pressure washing industry is easily a billion dollar industry in the United States and is not listed as a primary service with Google Local Service Ads. It’s under window cleaning. I know that’s dumb. Take it up with Google. In the meantime, here’s a link to Google’s comprehensive list of services offered with Local Service Ads. If you have any questions or think something is missing, give a comment and we’ll share our experience.
What does the Google Guaranteed Badge actually mean?
It’s hard to overstate the current and future benefits of having the Google Guaranteed Badge connected to your business. In fact, I’m so bullish on this to say that if you’re still reading this and haven’t taken action to get started, stop reading now and get signed up!
Why does the Google Guaranteed Badge matter? First, the badge isn’t an achievement you get by having more reviews or a better / more professional brand. It’s something you have to qualify for. If you’ve ever been beaten on price by someone who’s uninsured, you can relate to the importance of having something meaningful that separates you from your competition. Next is trust. When a consumer is searching or shopping on Google, a badge that has a guarantee with Google’s name on it means something.
Finally, although nobody knows what the future holds for the Google LSA program, there are a few indicators that show an increased need to be a Google Guaranteed company.
- The reviews generated from customers acquired from Google LSA are weighted heavier than from other sources. When a user is logged into the Google or GMail account, Google knows everything about them. It’s actually scary when you think about it so just don’t. Anyway, when a user clicks on your LSA profile and calls you, that call is tracked, the user ID is tracked and when that person leaves you a 5 star review, it means more than any other Google review.
- Google will eventually be rolling out and connecting even more of their products to this badge. Already in beta testing is connecting the Google Guaranteed badge to Google My Business(now Google Business Profile). I even see in the future all paid clicks and paid rankings will be connected to your overall Guaranteed Scorecard.
Optimizing your Google Local Service Ads account: When optimizing your Google Local Service Ads account, it’s important to know the three most important ranking factors.
- Geography – You’ll never rank if you’re not advertising. Getting your map right is critical
- User Experience – It was mentioned above and important to remember. Google knows every click, every call and every touchpoint of the Google Guaranteed experience. You MUST answer your phone or message when it rings. Google will be sending surveys to your clients asking about their experience. A bad experience means less impressions an opportunity.
- Bidding: – This one is based on raw data with two dashes of theory. Analyzing hundreds of Google LSA ads account for the past 24 months, we’ve noticed that aggressive bidding along with answering the phone and providing excellent service is the #1 recipe to winning. We’ve had multiple clients state that whey they either miss the first call of the day or miss a series of calls, their lead flow drops. Bid aggressively and answer your phone!
- Complete your business profile – Go through and add photos, logos and set the times you’d like to receive calls. Although the front-end experience and aesthetics of your LSA profile are limited, having everything completed and filled out will create a better experience for the user and better ROI for the business owner.
Closing: How does LSA influence other media online / offline?
One of my favorite tactical approaches when it comes to marketing any home service business is to establish your maximum allowable customer acquisition cost then run every media you can trying to beat that number. When you hit capacity, start dialing back or turning off all the lesser performing medias on focusing only on the winners.
The Google Guaranteed program will be a massive benefit to your bottom of funnel customers / the ones who are ready to buy or get quotes. However, there are benefits to your offline customers as well. There’s nothing against Google’s guidelines in you using the badge on your offline marketing materials. Once more homeowners know what Google Guaranteed is, it will start to gain more trust and authority.
Overall, I’d say that if you’re eligible to run LSA and choosing not to do so, you’re probably not a serious home service business owner. When Google first launched LSA, I honestly thought it would be the end of Google Ads. Now that we’re a few years in, I can see that is definitely not the case. Having LSA gives more businesses a fairer opportunity to build their brand and get reviews on a more level playing field.
How Google Local Service Ads Quality Score Works
Quality score is a key indicator for pretty much everything Google Does. For Local Service Ads, quality score comes down to three items:
- Your company profile is complete: When completing your company profile, make sure you select your business status (taking customers), you upload photos, turn on messaging and set a budget that is going to be competitive.
- You’ve selected the correct primary service category: Not every service is listed. Some are sub-categories of other services. When creating your account, make sure to note which primary service category you need to sign up for.
- You answer the calls: According to our Google representatives, answering calls is one of the biggest influencers of ranking. The super secret part is every 60 days, quality score is reset. The reason is to help small businesses who have a bad admin or customer sales rep who isn’t good on the phone to not be punished forever. The takeaways is. Answer your phone when it’s an LSA lead!
- You turn calls into quotes or scheduled jobs: There’s a dashboard in LSA that allows you to track each lead and it’s status.
- You get reviews from Local Service Ads requests: LSA reviews are weighted heavier than Google Business Profile reviews. Turn more LSA leads in to jobs and help both your LSA and GBP ranking.
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