Over the years people (me included) have openly wondered if there would come a time when Google would stop just selling advertising and move into the business of collecting and selling leads directly. There were always two sides to the argument.
On one side you could argue that any move in that direction would be anti-competitive. Google’s offering would obviously be given precedence over other lead aggregators who were toiling in the regular auction. It was and still is a valid point.
On the other hand, Google could see (through conversion tracking, call tracking, etc.) just how poorly some advertisers were at converting those paid clicks into leads. That blame would be placed on AdWords (both fairly and unfairly) and many advertisers would quit using the platform even though their own websites or call handling procedures were more responsible for their poor results.
I guess when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, then you do what you want. And so Google has been slowly expanding their Local Services Ads (LSAs) into more and more cities.
What Are Google Local Services Ads?
To put it succinctly, this is a new ad type where Google “guarantees” the service provider (such as a plumber or electrician), handles the lead capture process and sends that call/lead directly to an advertiser for a predetermined price/lead. The guarantee part is actually very time intensive and involves confirming that the companies are licensed and insured appropriately. They must have every technician that visits customer homes go through a background check. This is why Google is willing to put their neck on the line and give the “Google guaranteed” label.
Here is an example of what they look like if someone is searching for “hvac repair” in Salt Lake City:
The LSA unit is the 3 boxes at the top of the page, with each being labeled “Google guaranteed” with the green checkboxes. These appear above the traditional text PPC ads and above the map pack and above the organic results (which are so far down the page you don’t see them here). This search is now monopolized by Google and virtually any click results in revenue for big G.
How Are Leads Handled?
The LSA system has it’s own backend and smartphone app. A vast majority of the leads are calls and thus ring straight through to the phone number provided by the advertiser. In the app, advertisers can see the lead information, contest crappy leads (so they don’t have to pay for them) and request reviews from leads that become customers. These reviews are then added to the advertiser’s profile, but with a label that says “Google verified job”. It’s very similar to Angie’s List.
How To Get Started?
You can do a quick search and see if you see the ads or you can head over to Google’s page and check the availability based on your service and geographic area (currently tied to zip codes). The current published list of 30 or so cities is here, but it’s way out of date. Just go to the signup page and go through the steps. You’ll need to select a country, state, ZIP code & service area before verifying your insurance and licensing is up-to-date. Then you give them an estimated budget & they give you a price/lead you’ll pay. If you’re eligible then you start the verification process.
I’m helping a client through this process currently and hope to have future posts about how things are going, tips for success, etc.
Have you tried Google Local Services Ads? We’d love to hear about your experiences and tips for success in the comments below.