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What Are Local Service Ads? A Look Inside of Google’s New Advertising Platform

By Tyler Hendershot | Digital Marketing Strategist

For years, HomeAdvisor has been the go-to service for finding pre-screened, licensed professionals to perform home maintenance, improvement, and remodeling services. In 2017, they merged with Angie’s List and formed ANGI Homeservices, creating the world’s largest digital service for home services. In an industry worth $400 billion dollars in the United States alone, Google saw an opportunity to use its own search platform as a way to capitalize. This lead to the creation of Local Service Ads (LSA). Let’s take a look at what LSAs are, and how they’re changing the way service-based companies are generating leads.

What Are Local Service Ads?

Whether you know it or not, you’ve probably seen Local Service Ads in the search results on your phone, tablet, or desktop device. Let’s use the search term “roofing contractors des moines” as an example.

screenshot of search results containing local service ads

A SERP with Google Local Service Ads above the first ad spot.

Do you see those boxes with company names at the top of the search results? Those are Local Service Ads that correlate with the home service you are looking for. As you’ll notice, they appear above everything in the search results, including Google Ads that are bidding on this same keyphrase. Right below the boxes, there is a blue arrow with text to the right of it which says “More roofers in Des Moines.” Clicking into that hyperlink will pull up the 20+ businesses in the Des Moines area that are using Local Service Ads for roofing.

Should My Business Sign Up for Local Service Ads?

There are a few things to consider when weighing the necessity of Local Service Ads for your business. The first one, and clearly the most important one, is can your business even use Local Service Ads? Let’s dive into who can use them and if it’s the right move for your business.

Industries With LSAs Active on Google

As mentioned above, this Local Service Ads are strictly for trade service professionals that perform said services at residents’ homes. At the moment, the following are the only industries that Local Service Ads can assist on a national basis:

  • Appliance Repair
  • Carpet Cleaning
  • Electrician
  • Garage Door Repair
  • House Cleaning
  • HVAC Contractor
  • Lawn Care Provider
  • Locksmith
  • Mover
  • Pest Control
  • Plumber
  • Roofer
  • Water Damage Restoration
  • Window Cleaner

If your business does not fall into one of these categories, then unfortunately there is no way currently for you to capitalize on LSAs. Bummer! However, that isn’t to say that they won’t expand their services down the line.

Is It Worth Signing Up For?

There are a couple of key questions you have to answer before deciding if Local Service Ads are right for your business.

  1. Do I have the capacity for the potential business? If you are a franchise of a well established company like ServiceMaster or Bell Brothers, then by all means yes, you need to sign up for Local Service Ads. However, if you are a small, 1-5 person operation that runs on a tighter budget, then you are going to need to calculate if you have the capacity to field leads that might start rolling in. If your LSA account starts to double or triple your workload and you don’t have the staff or resources available to keep up, then you might inadvertently overload the box by joining. The good thing is you can turn off LSAs whenever, so don’t feel like you are pinned by Google if things start moving too quickly.
  2. Is it cost effective for the service I provide? One thing that makes Local Service Ads tough on some businesses is that the cost of a lead varies depending on the industry you are in and the city you operate out of. For example, a plumbing lead out of Cedar Rapids, IA is going to cost less than one that operates out of downtown Chicago. Every industry that Local Service Ads covers in any given city has a specific cost-per-lead price. If the cost of a lead cuts deep into the margins that you would need to steadily make money off of the service, then you might want to pass on it. However, on the contrary, these leads could give you years of repeat service down the line and provide your business with tons of recurring revenue. Understanding your business model at a high level will help you answer this question. If you are interested in knowing what a lead would cost for your industry and city, reach out to Local Service Ads and they should be able to provide you with this information.

Once you are confident in your answers to these questions, you will know whether or not you should move forward with creating an account. If you still have more questions or need some insight, contact Webspec and our digital marketing experts will gladly help you out!

How Do I Get Started With Local Service Ads?

I would like to preface this by telling you that I’d be lying if I said the LSA sign up process was as easy as submitting some forms and getting approved. Theoretically, it should be that easy. Unfortunately, the service is still going through some growing pains and as a digital marketing agency that deals with them directly, we’ve had our fair share of headaches while setting up accounts. But, these events could be isolated and only involving us, who knows! Much like with any new service, the process needs some time to work out the kinks. Here is what you will need to sign up for Local Service Ads.

Company License & Proof of Insurance

To ensure that your business is not a scam, they require that you upload your professional license and proof of insurance. However, the proof of insurance can also be exchanged with a DBA (Doing Business As) file as well. DBA files can vary depending on the type of business organization you operate under and what state you operate out of. But, for the most part, any sort of legal state-specific document that communicates your company’s name should be accepted by LSA.

a screenshot of the upload screen for proof of insurance

Updating your business’s licensing and proof of insurance.

Background Check

Since home services require technicians, carpet cleaners, and other professionals to physically enter the home of a customer, it is required that you submit a background check of all employees who will be performing services. They also require that the owner of the business submits a background check as well. As of a couple of months ago, Google switched over their background check services from Pinkerton to Evident in an effort to streamline the process. Unfortunately, this transition has often caused more headaches than it has solved problems. Ever since the switch to Evident occurred, the background check process has become longer from our experience at Webspec. We hope this is something which they can resolve as soon as possible.

logo of evident

Gather A Single Review

If you have a Google My Business location that already has reviews on it, you can link this directly with your LSA account. However, if you do not have one or you don’t have access to it, the dashboard within Local Service Ads will set you up with a link that you can share to gather a review. We recommend sending it to a recent customer or client to leave you a review. Once you have these three startup tasks covered, you can start selecting your weekly budget, targeting areas, and uploading photos to your profile.

As a Business, How Do Local Service Ads Work?

Ah, great question! Let’s start out by tackling the logistics of what is involved with the LSA process when it’s fully operational. Much like HomeAdvisor, businesses that are utilizing Local Service Ads pay a fee to have their ads show at the top of the Google results. Now, the ‘fee’ isn’t your traditional subscriber-based fee that you would pay to have a listing in something like YellowPages (*laughs uncontrollably*). Rather, Google and HomeAdvisor only charge you when there are potential, serious leads that are coming to you for service.

Acquiring & Managing Leads

When a potential customer clicks on your LSA, they are then directed to call a dynamic phone number that forwards to your business’ phone number. As soon as they call, you will be charged for the lead. You are able to manage leads, listen to phone call recordings, add notes, and even dispute a lead within the ‘Leads’ section of the dashboard. Remember, you pay for a lead even if you don’t end up actually doing work for them, so long as it was a legit lead. If you need to dispute a false lead, you can do so within each lead as well. Upon finishing up with a lead, you can archive all of them unto a library which holds all of your completed leads.

a screenshot of a potential lead in Google LSA

A potential lead in Google’s Local Service Ads

Asking For Reviews

After you have successfully completed a job with a customer, you can close out the ticket by clicking “Mark Booked”. Once a ticket is complete, you can extend an offer for a review via an email that Local Service Ads will generate if you request a review.

 Ad Rankings

Unlike with Google Ads where you have to optimize ad copy, ad relevance, CTR, and the landing page for rankings, Local Service Ads take in other factors when ranking your ads.

  • Proximity to the user is searching from
  • Responsiveness to customer inquiries and requests – the less you answer, the less likely Google will be to show your ad.
  • Your review score and the amount of reviews you have received
  • Your hours of operation – If you are not open at the time someone is searching, your ads will not show.

Although some of the factors are out of your control, gathering reviews and answering leads in a timely manner will drastically help you out.

Local Service Ads Payment System

Let’s say Ray is looking for electrical work and has stumbled upon your LSA. He sort of likes what he sees, but decides to pass by your LSA without taking any action on it. Although you may have missed out on his potential business, you ultimately paid $0.00 for him to do that. Now, let’s say he comes back later and decides that he wants to reach out to you via your LSA. He calls your business and you guys discuss your services, quotes, and anything else in between. The moment he called you from that LSA, you were charged for the lead at the specific cost-per-lead price for your industry and city. Your account will then be charged to the card that you link it up with.

Get Started With Local Service Ads Today

If you are interested in using Local Service Ads or have questions about how to get started with them, reach out to our digital marketing team today! Our digital marketing team members currently overlook LSA accounts for a variety of industries in multiple different cities. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tyler Hendershot

A West Des Moines native, Tyler received his B.A. in Enterprise Leadership from the University of Iowa before joining Webspec in 2017. Tyler’s job is to make sure that our clients’ SEO results are optimized to the highest extent. When he isn’t in the office, you can find Tyler writing his own music, researching trivia questions or watching basketball crossover highlights.