Google Local Services Ads & What They Mean to Paid Search

By Emily Paulsen / November 28, 2018 / Paid Search

In May 2018, Google officially rolled out Local Services ads in select cities across the country.

Local Services ads are a combination of the traditional organic Google Maps results and a Call-Only ad. Local Services ads allow searchers to quickly find and contact “Google Guaranteed” local service providers in their area.

Google search results and ads for local plumbers

When clicked on, Local Services ads lead users to a Google-hosted company profile, which outlines important information such as services offered, hours of operation, contractor license information, reviews, and more. This profile prompts the users to call the business to inquire about and schedule services.

This is a great experience for users of search, as it makes the process of finding, evaluating, and contacting a potential vendor much more streamlined.

Google’s goal here, of course, is to make it easier for people to find the information and vendor they are looking for  — and potentially prevent poor-quality businesses from being found via their platform.

As a whole, this is the basis of Google — establishing and highlighting authority in respective niches — and the reason behind the platform as it exists.

What Google Local Services Means for Business Owners

While Google Local Services ads are great for consumers searching for a good fence installer, the update is even more exciting if you’re a marketer or business owner looking to promote your services.

Rather than bidding on a cost-per-click basis, Local Services ads function on a flat cost-per-lead basis. This means companies only pay for actual leads, rather than clicks or impressions. The fee is determined by Google when your account is created and is based on your industry and location.

Advertisers can then set their budget knowing how many leads they are can expect to receive from their campaign — a concept that’s nearly unheard of in paid search.

If paying for your ads on a per-lead basis isn’t exciting enough to make you close out of this article and apply for Local Services ads right now, here are some of the ways we predict Local Services ads are going to influence paid search in 2019:

Increased ROI from Paid Search

If you’re like me, you spend about 90% of your time optimizing your PPC campaigns for conversions —actions like calls, form submission, and online purchases.

This constant maintenance has the tendency to feel like you’re chasing a moving target. Inevitably, we end up paying for clicks from people who don’t end up purchasing our product or paying for our services.

Bidding on leads eliminates this margin of error, allowing us to focus directly on achieving our most important KPIs. No more paying for clicks that don’t convert, no more paying for traffic from irrelevant searches. It’s as simple as that.

Less Time Optimizing Means More Time Innovating

A consistent stream of leads allows marketers to shift their focus from keeping the business afloat to finding new, innovative, ways to reach and engage their customers without the risk of spending their ad budget on an experiment that might not pan out.

Paying directly for leads frees up the time that we’d normally spend optimizing our PPC campaigns and allows us to focus our efforts on new initiatives.

While we wouldn’t necessarily advise putting ALL of your search budget into Google Local Services ads and forgetting about CPC completely, utilizing pay-per-lead can alleviate some of the optimization burden from your team and allow you to try new marketing tactics without the risk of losing your lead volume.

Heavier Focus on “Pay to Play” in Local Search

Google Local Services ads show up first in the search engine results pages (SERPs), above local search results, ads, and organic results.

Previously, local-oriented searches usually resulted in a SERP that highlighted the Maps 4-pack, with organic local results presented first, before anything else.

Google Maps 4 pack for pizza search results

With the addition of Local Services ads, paid positions are back to the top of the page in Google Search.

Depending on your business’ industry, this may shift local search from organic to paid-dominant, increasing the overall price you have to pay to be seen, even if you’re only paying for qualified leads.

Additionally, Google has begun rolling out additional local ad options that will populate the Map with paid results including:

  • Promoted pins
  • In-store promotions
  • Local inventory search

It remains to be seen if this will result in a Facebook-style forced reliance on paid promotion over organic, or if organic Map results will remain a key element of local searching and evaluating.

Moving Forward with Local Services Ads

The process to get approved to run Local Services ads, which means becoming “Google Guaranteed,” can be complex.

If your business offers services in a supported industry and location, you may want to consider starting the process of becoming verified, even if you aren’t sure what budget you’d like to allocate to this tactic at this time. More importantly, the integration of Local Services with Google Assistant and Google Home products shows a glimpse of what our future may hold in terms of how the search engine may utilize voice search to connect consumers with local businesses.

Local Services ads can be very beneficial for your business and at the very least, you will have a “Google Guaranteed” listing which creates a level of trust for potential consumers.

Not sure how to get started? Contact our digital experts so we can help you elevate your brand.