There have been quite a few updates to Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs) since we last wrote about them.
In this blog, we’ll review a few of the key changes Google has made to their newest ad platform, and what those changes mean for consumers and businesses alike.
Before we get into the updates, let’s first recap what Local Services Ads are. Simply put, they are Google’s pay-per-lead advertisements at the very top of a search result.
On mobile devices and tablets, you are likely to see two Local Services Ads advertisers under a Google Guaranteed Badge, with the option to view more. These results sit above all of the traditional search ads.
There is one caveat to mobile searches: Local Services Ads do not show in the Google Maps app.
Desktop users will see three LSAs at the top of the page with their own Google Guaranteed Badge along with business hours and a visible phone number.
Now that we have that quick refresher, let’s talk about updates Google has made to this platform:
Previously, LSAs have been available to only a few industries, such as locksmiths, HVAC, plumbers and electricians. Over the last year, Google has added several industries to this list, including roofers, water damage restoration, pest control, window contractors, house cleaners and more.
Even more recently, we’ve seen further expansion of these advertisements into the legal and financial services industries, albeit to a limited extent, in the form of the Google Screened program. These are in a very small minority of test markets.
Local Services Ads were initially launched in test markets back in 2015. Throughout 2018 and part of 2019, Google was slowly adding new cities to the platform. Capitalizing on the success of LSAs, Google chose select industries to include in a nationwide rollout.
In addition to the nationwide rollout in the United States, Google has also added more Canadian cities to the Local Services Ads platform.
Now let's move on to some advertiser-specific updates:
Ranking Factor Impact
As Local Services Ads become more prominent in major markets, more advertisers are entering the space, creating a more competitive environment.
With lead costs being a fixed price and not an auction system like Google Search Ads, advertisers in the Local Services Ads space must jockey for position based on the established ranking factors: distance to the user, reviews, response time, business hours and whether Google has received serious or repeated complaints about the business.
Distance to User
Google has put an emphasis on the local in Local Services Ads.
Unlike traditional search ads, where you can target your ads wherever you choose without worrying too much about how far from the searcher your business is located, your Local Services Ads are subject to the distance between your business and the user.
The further away from the user your business is located, the less likely you are to show high on the list of Local Services Ads.
Part of the eligibility requirements to appear in the Local Services Ads results is to have at least one review on your Google My Business and/or Local Services Ads profile (Google Verified Review).
One of the main reasons Google developed the Local Services Ads platform was to increase consumer confidence in the advertisers on the search results page.
Reviews are a key element to consumer confidence in a business. The more reviews you have, from both a volume and frequency/consistency standpoint, the better you will rank in the LSA section.
Google has been very explicit about reviews being a major factor in the success of a Local Services Ads campaign.
When someone is searching for a service provider, finding a business that will answer calls is a necessity. That is why Google has decided to include the responsiveness rate in its primary ranking factors.
The more often you answer your phone when someone calls, the more likely you are to rank high in Local Services Ads.
Plus, think about the potential lost revenue from missed calls to your business!
While it is possible to set your Local Services Ads to run 24/7, your ads are more likely to show during your set business hours.
If you are an 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. plumber, your ads are less likely to show up after 5 p.m. even if you offer 24/7 emergency service.
As you can imagine based on the importance of response rate, Google looks at a business’s hours and determines that they are not likely to answer the phone after closing, and opts to decrease that business’s visibility during those off-hours.
Serious or Repeated Complaints About the Business
Part of the Local Services Ads program is the Google Guarantee badge of trust.
When advertisers pass their background checks and licensing and insurance verification, they earn the Google Guaranteed Badge, meaning Google will cover up to $2,000 in initial service claims made against the business (other stipulations qualify).
The volume and severity of the complaints made will directly affect your business’s ranking. This is part of Google’s dedication to creating a positive user experience.
In order to stay competitive and generate leads with Local Services Ads, you need to make sure your business is doing everything it can to increase your reviews, answer the phones and provide high-quality services consistently.
When you focus on those key elements of your business, not only will your Local Services Ads have a better chance of outranking your competition, they will also positively impact your local search presence, as reviews are a major ranking factor in local SEO as well.
In addition to two major expansion updates made by Google Local Services Ads recently, the emphasis on ranking factors for businesses has also become more significant in recent months.
At RevLocal, we want to handle all your digital marketing needs so you can focus on taking care of your customers.
If you're a current client who would like to learn more about Local Services Ads, reach out to your marketing strategist, and if you're interested in signing up with RevLocal's services, request a demo with a local digital marketing consultant!