Every small business knows the difficulties competing against the big guys. But, now, with Google local service, the neighborhood repair man or HVAC company and more can leverage the power of Google to compete against the heavy hitters.
Google local service ads challenge service industry giants like HomeAdvisor, by returning ads for home service work. The local service ads appear like product ads when shopping for handbags, golf clubs or any other retail product. However, consumers can click and connect with your business. Plus, the setup is very manual, so large brands cannot gain any advantages while signing up. Of course, this is an ad network, so large brands may have more budget.
How Google Local Service Ads Work
Although many small businesses think of the Google ads space as a black box, local service ads are much more manual. In fact, for companies that already advertise on Google, think of local service ads as an add-on to traditional PPC advertising. Plus, as Google builds out this platform, the customer service team actually answers the phone and helps companies complete the setup process!
Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward and there are limited options so it isn’t overly complex.
- Head to Local Services by Google and complete the sign up form. The required information covers your location, services and budget. Ultimately, Google wants to provide qualified leads, so sharing the right information helps them serve ads to the right customer.
- Next, become Google Guaranteed. Like other service platforms, Google wants to confirm your company has the right credentials and meet the local license and insurance requirements, so they will run a background check on your company and employees.
- Find customers. Once you complete the administrative paperwork, ads will appear when customers in your area search for your services!
- Book new business. When customers click on your ads, then they contact you directly from the ad. From there, your team must respond to inbound requests, just like any other potential sale. Local service ads drive qualified leads, so your sales team must still vet the jobs and schedule appointments (assuming you and the customer are a match).
- Manage local ads and grow your business. Finally, Google provides a local services dashboard that allows you to update and/or pause ads. Plus, the dashboard helps optimize your account and/or adjust your budget.
Finally, as your ads run, Google leverages machine learning techniques and automatically optimizes performance. For example, Google notes the following factors that help the local services ads match with potential leads.
- Proximity to potential customers’ locations
- Review score and the number of reviews
- Responsiveness to customer inquiries and requests
- Business hours
- Potential complaints Google receives about business
What Does the Google Guarantee Mean?
Every business depends on their reputation. Whether good or bad, customers look for data points to confirm their buying decision. For example, Google looks at reviews for traditional local search results. As a result, one of the best methods to enhance your local SEO results means generating reviews.
However, within the Local Service campaign program, Google assumes some reputational risk of serving your ads. So, the program includes a Google Guarantee!
“The Google Guarantee badge is available for businesses that pass a Google screening and qualification process through Google Local Services. If you’re backed by the Google Guarantee, and your customers (that came to your business through Google) aren’t satisfied with work quality, Google may refund the amount paid for the service.”
During the setup process, Google conducts manual screening and background checks. In general, these checks aim to confirm your business and employees are licensed and insured to conduct the work. Although it may take some time to complete the paperwork, the Google Guarantee check mark provides potential customers with peace of mind that Google stands by their work.
Additionally, Google covers claims up to the amount noted on the initial job invoice (in the US, this amount is up to $2,000). In the event of a claim, then Google will work with you to learn more about the job and ultimately decide on a resolution.
Is Google Local Service Ads Free?
Similar to other lead generating platforms, companies pay the underlying company per lead. However, with Google Local Service ads, companies mark qualified leads and non-qualified leads, so you only pay for valid leads. Additionally, the amount per lead varies by industry, but you control your budget, so your costs are under your control. Finally, as the ads optimize and you evaluate their effectiveness for your business, you can easily increase or decrease the spend.
However, to help understand your potential costs, Google rolled out a budget estimate tool.
The straightforward tool allows businesses to estimate the costs to generate their desired number of leads per zip code. It is a great way to estimate varying costs for companies that operate across a state (or even nationally).
Ultimately, Google Local Service ads offers a simple way to grow your business. From some early results, local service ads really work and cost about ⅓ as much as traditional paid search ads. For example, an aggregate study indicated that local ads brought in 175% more billable leads and were 180% as expensive. So, in a nutshell, more leads at a cheaper cost!
Google Local Service Keeps Iterating
Google keeps iterating the Local Service Ads offering, along with all products aimed at small businesses. For example, Google recently announced a small test in bidding to Local Service ads. Based on the success of the trial, Google is introducing bidding strategies in a larger trial.
“A selection of advertisers across the expanding list of LSA categories will now have access to bidding in a new beta test. They will be notified by Google if they are eligible to participate…The selected advertisers don’t have to participate; they can continue using fixed pricing if desired. LSAs launched in 2015 with fixed cost per lead pricing — for simplicity. Prices were set by Google and varied by industry vertical and geography. Leads can be delivered in the form of calls, appointment bookings or messages, depending on what the advertiser wants to receive.”
Assuming this is successful for small businesses and Google, then expect the traditional auction process in 2021.