The internet can be an uncertain place, and it can be challenging for customers to know whom to rely on. Reviews, an updated Google Business Profile, citations, and photos can instill trust. However, Google Guaranteed & Google Screened are two new ways to show potential clients that Google finds you trustworthy. Increase sales today by using Local Service Ads.
Local Service Ads (LSA) vs. Pay-Per-Click Ads (PPC)
If you’ve ever utilized digital marketing for your company, you likely know that you can bid on ad spots at the top of the search engine results (SERP) page for specified keywords, only paying for the ad when someone clicks on your website. If you outbid your competitors, your ad would show in one of the top 3 or 4 spots. These are called Pay-Per-Click ads, more commonly known as PPC.
The more competitors looking to place their ad in the top spot, the more expensive each click will be. While this is an excellent and proven way to increase visibility, traffic, and leads, it does not guarantee that there will be a conversion. A conversion occurs when a customer clicks on the ad and, in return, purchases a product or service.
Local Service Ads are now visible above the PPC ads, meaning that LSA’s are the first thing you see when searching for a service near you. This is because Google aims to provide “prompt results, ease & convenience, and trust” to customers searching for businesses near them.
What are Local Service Ads?
LSAs are a great way to connect businesses directly with customers. Instead of paying for an ad whenever a prospective customer clicks on it, you now pay per lead with Local Service Ads. Only pay when a customer contacts you to book a service.
This is an excellent option for service providers because it gets you one step closer to making a sale without having to pay for prospective customers who are just browsing through or may not end up contacting you.
Local Service ads rely on proximity
One of the preferred things about PPC advertising is your ability to target any keyword with the proper budget. There is no limit based on location. If a business in Pennsylvania wants to compete for their service keyword in New York, they can.
With LSAs, there is no way to target a specific location. Instead, Google aims to match customers with your business based on how close in proximity they are to you. So while reliability, search intent (how closely your services compare to the search), and quality of services affect if you show up #1 in the LSA carousel, if there’s a competitor closer to the searcher than you are, they might show up first.
Who qualifies for Local Service Ads?
Service-based businesses such as lawyers, daycares, plumbers, HVAC, contractors, real estate agents, & yoga studios are some examples of those who qualify for LSAs.
For a complete list of qualifying service providers, look at Google’s About Local Services page.
How do I know if I’ll show up first on LSAs?
Even if there’s no way to promise that you’ll be the first option on the SERP page, there are some good indicators based on what we know about Google’s algorithm.
- You have good reviews
- You have an up-to-date Google Business Profile
- Your business is consistent
- How fast you respond to contacts from Local Service Ads
- Business hours- are you open/close to opening hours when the customer contacts you
- Optimize your services available on your Google Business account
- When creating your profile, you select one main service that shows up on the SERP. However, you can choose multiple services and will show up in results when people search for that term.
How do screening procedures work for LSAs?
If you’ve ever viewed Local Service Ads, you’ll notice a green checkmark, “✅,” followed by “Google Screened” or “Google Verified” under the company name. This is because each business that pays for LSAs goes through a series of screening checks to ensure that all licensures, certifications, permits, background checks, and insurance are up-to-date.
If eligible, providers pay $50 per month ($600 per year) to maintain their Google Screened or Google Guaranteed checkmark.
Owners, and in some cases, business professionals and employees will go through a series of background checks to qualify for LSAs. There is no up-front fee associated with these checks, as it is included in the monthly flat rate. Background checks can be civil, criminal, or both.
If your business already has these verifications, you can apply for 3rd party authentication as long as your process is equivalent to Google’s standards.
Google verifies that your business holds all necessary licenses at federal, state, and local levels. If your business services a neighboring state, you may have to show licensure for both.
Businesses must show that they maintain general liability insurance for their work.
In some instances, additional verification may be required. Google will reach out to you to complete any necessary verifications.
Google will review your online presence. As previously mentioned, low rankings may disqualify you from ranking on LSAs or cause you to rank lower on the list.
Source: Google- How providers qualify for Local Service Ads
Google Screened vs. Google Guaranteed
While both Google Screened and Google Guaranteed go through a similar verification process, they have some key differences.
For those with the checkmark for Google Guaranteed, Google backs the business and its services for up to $2,000 USD.
In other words, if a customer contacts a business through an LSA and their services do not live up to the expectations and quality standards set by Google and stated by the business, they can contact Google and potentially receive up to $2,000 (per lifetime) reimbursement. Whether the customer gets a refund or not is solely up to Google’s discretion.
The majority of service providers listed on Google’s Local Services Help page qualify for Google Guaranteed.
Google Screened is available to the following select service providers:
- Lawyers/Law firms
- Financial planning services
- Real estate agents/groups
- Child care/Preschool providers
Google does not have a money-back guarantee for customers who are provided services through Google Screened businesses.
Specific licensure checks are necessary for this form of LSA. For example, a lawyer must be licensed in Pennsylvania to practice law, or a childcare provider may need to undergo specific background checks (i.e., child abuse clearance).
Local Service Ads, Google Guaranteed, and Google Screened are excellent ways to show local prospects that you are a reliable and trustworthy service provider. Avoid paying for clicks that don’t lead to bookings and only pay for those who are interested in your business with LSA.
You can get started on the Local Service Ad process here or contact your local digital marketing agency to inquire within.
RiZen Metrics is a full-service digital marketing agency in Scranton, PA (with hubs in Philadelphia and NYC) that is ready to collaborate with you on your paid media advertising journey. If you believe Local Service Ads by Google might be beneficial to you, feel free to reach out, and we can talk strategy.