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Google Local Service Ads LSA
12Feb, 2024

What Are Google Local Service Ads? A Beginner’s Guide to LSAs

Local Service Ads (LSAs) have become a staple in local search engine marketing (SEM). While they began as a distant cousin to traditional Google Ads, they’ve since found their place in both local PPC (pay-per-click) and SEO strategy. However, the mechanics of LSAs are a little more black box than traditional PPC.

This post will provide some foundational understanding of the ad type and how to think of it in your marketing plan. We will be doing a more advanced companion piece that will dive into more specific questions folks face when running these campaigns, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!

Disclaimer: The original article was published on BrightLocal.com, hence it refers to businesses based in the USA. While most of the information applies to UK businesses too but some elements may not.

What are LSAs?

First and foremost, LSAs are ads. This means they require a budget to serve. While they benefit quite a bit from local SEO, they are still, first and foremost, an ad. They are charged based on recorded phone calls that last at least two minutes or messages that get sent through (if you opt-in to that feature) that come via the ad.

Local Services Ads Desktop

Think of LSAs as business cards, allowing your customers to identify and communicate with you directly. They allow white and blue-collar professionals to appear at the top of the Google search engine result page (SERP) for queries relating to the specific type of business they offer.

Local Services Ads Mobile Screenshot

An LSA placement can appear on a mobile or desktop device and can include:

  • A photo of the professional
  • How long the business has been in business
  • Ratings
  • Link to the website (if provided)

LSAs require you to choose whether you are open to more “general” inquiries or if you require the leads to be more specific. If you opt not to go for the volume of general leads, you retain the right to dispute calls/messages that do not align with the categories you select.

Where do LSAs appear?

LSAs can appear on all types of SERPS (and have been spotted in Google’s AI Search Generative Experience). That said, they are predisposed to have a higher mobile focus. This is because the main call-to-action is “call”.

The user is presented with three ads on both desktop and mobile. At the bottom of the ad unit, the user can click or tap to view additional ads for businesses.

The number of ads in a market and within specific categories can vary considerably. You might see only a few, or you might see dozens. It just depends on how many businesses are in that market category. The most ads I’ve seen after clicking through to view the entire list for a specific search is 100, so that may be the maximum.

This is what you’ll be presented with if you choose to expand the ad unit on desktop:

Expanded Local Services Ads

Which countries are LSAs available in?

Currently, LSAs are only available in a small number of countries. These are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Benefits of LSAs for Local Businesses

There are many benefits to LSAs, though depending on your business model, you may be predisposed to value some more than others.

They’re cheaper than traditional paid search

First and foremost, LSAs are typically cheaper than traditional paid search. This is due to their ad format. It’s not bound by the same auction as paid search is. As such, you might pay anywhere from 10-40% less per call/message lead than you would otherwise.

However, before you fully commit budget to LSAs, it’s important to remember they don’t always show and can be subject to far more volume volatility than traditional search. This is why it’s typically a good idea to include them as part of a holistic marketing strategy.

Your local SEO efforts benefit them

The second big benefit is that they draw directly from solid local SEO practices. You’re golden if you’ve set the foundations well for your Google Business Profile, structured your site well (i.e., easily crawlable), and are active in your review responses/acquisitions. If those things aren’t true, you will likely take longer to ramp up your LSA profile.

You only pay per lead

Finally, LSAs charge based on recorded phone calls or messages. This is a huge benefit over most other marketing channels because you can pay per lead. However, if your intake/sales team isn’t able to respond to the leads promptly or you’re not able to service the volume, you won’t just lose money; you’ll begin to lose rankings for your profile.

What types of businesses are eligible for Local Service Ads in the UK?

When LSAs first hit the market in 2016, there was a huge waiting list to get onboarded. Now, it’s fairly straightforward, and most local verticals are accepted. So long as you’re a local business that accepts clients through lead gen (as opposed to software that would let a person sign up on the site or buy a product directly), you’re likely eligible.

The main distinction is between white collar vs blue collar work (i.e., is this a professional service where the customer will likely come to the business or vice versa).

However, eligibility varies greatly from region to region, as seen in the examples below.

LSA Verticals in the US

  • Acupuncturist
  • Allergist
  • Animal rescue
  • Appliance repair services
  • Architect (California and Florida only)
  • Auto body shop (California and Florida only)
  • Auto repair shop (California and Florida only)
  • Bankruptcy lawyer services
  • Barbershop (California and Florida only)
  • Beauty school
  • Business lawyer services
  • Carpet cleaning services
  • Carpenters
  • Car wash and detailing (California and Florida only)
  • Cellphone and laptop repair (California and Florida only)
  • Child care
  • Chiropractor
  • Contract lawyer services
  • Criminal lawyer services
  • Dance instructor
  • Countertop services
  • Dentist
  • Dermatologist
  • Dietitian
  • Disability lawyer services
  • Drain expert (California and Florida only)
  • Driving instructor
  • DUI lawyer services
  • Electricians
  • Estate lawyer services
  • Family lawyer services
  • Fencing services
  • Financial planning services
  • First aid training
  • Flooring services
  • Foundations services
  • Funeral home
  • Garage door services
  • General contractor
  • Handyman
  • Hair removal (California and Florida only)
  • Hair salon (California and Florida only)
  • Home inspector
  • Home insulation (California and Florida only)
  • Home security
  • Home theater
  • House cleaning services
  • HVAC (heating or air conditioning)
  • Immigration lawyer services
  • Insurance agency (California and Florida only)
  • IP lawyer services
  • Interior designer (California and Florida only)
  • Junk removal services
  • Labor lawyer services
  • Landscaping services
  • Language instructor
  • Lawn care services
  • Lawyers
  • Litigation lawyer services
  • Locksmiths
  • Malpractice lawyer services
  • Massage school
  • Moving services
  • Nail salon (California and Florida only)
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Optometrist
  • Orthodontist
  • Painter
  • Personal injury lawyer services
  • Personal trainer
  • Pest control services
  • Pet adoption
  • Pet boarding
  • Pet grooming
  • Pet training
  • Piercing studio (California and Florida only)
  • Physical therapist
  • Plumbers
  • Podiatrist
  • Pool cleaner
  • Pool contractor
  • Preschool
  • Primary care physician
  • Real estate lawyer
  • Real estate services
  • Roofers
  • Sewage system
  • Siding services
  • Snow removal
  • Solar energy contractor (California and Florida only)
  • Storage (California and Florida only)
  • Tax services
  • Tattoo studio (California and Florida only)
  • Tire shop (California and Florida only)
  • Traffic lawyer services
  • Tree services
  • Towing (California and Florida only)
  • Tutor
  • Veterinarian
  • Water damage services
  • Weight loss service
  • Window cleaning services
  • Window repair services
  • Yoga studio

The list for the UK, while made up of many similar verticals, is much shorter.

LSA Verticals in the UK

  • Appliance repair services
  • Carpenters
  • Carpet cleaning services
  • Cleaning services
  • Countertop services
  • Electricians
  • Fencing services
  • Flooring services
  • Foundations services
  • Garage door services
  • General contractor services
  • Handyman
  • Home inspection services
  • HVAC (heating or air conditioning)
  • Junk removal services
  • Landscaping services
  • Lawn care services
  • Moving services
  • Pest control services
  • Plumbers
  • Pool cleaning services
  • Pool contracting services
  • Roofers
  • Snow removal services
  • Tree services
  • Water damage services
  • Window cleaning services
  • Window repair services
  • Currently available in Greater London only:
  • Contract lawyer services
  • Corporate lawyer services
  • Criminal lawyer services
  • Employment lawyer services
  • Estate agent services
  • Family lawyer services
  • Immigration lawyer services
  • Insolvency lawyer services
  • IP lawyer services
  • Lawyer services
  • Litigation lawyer services
  • Malpractice lawyer services
  • Personal injury services
  • Probate lawyer services
  • Property lawyer services
  • Road traffic lawyer services
  • Tax lawyer services

If you’re in a region that doesn’t yet support LSAs for your industry, don’t despair. Google (and Microsoft) see the need and desire for this ad product and are constantly adding new regions and verticals. The full Google list can be found here.

How Do LSAs Work?

LSAs behave slightly differently from traditional paid search campaigns. Rather than bidding on keywords or audiences, brands designate services you are interested in. In doing this, you gain a far simpler targeting method but lose the ability to “outsmart” the algorithm through more manual intervention.

Unlike Local Search Ads (the map pack), you do not appear automatically just for connecting your Google Business Profile. These ads don’t require keywords, audiences, or ad creation (like traditional search ads or Performance Max).

They require you to either set up a separate account or allow your LSAs to share the same client ID (CID) as your existing Google Ads account. You’ll rank better or worse based on the information you provide, the bids and budgets you set, and how well you respond to leads.

Getting Google Guaranteed

Setting up LSAs is much simpler than it used to be; however, it still requires careful planning. You’ll still need to verify your ad account and go through a background check to get the Google Guaranteed component.

What is Google Guaranteed?

Google Guarantee

The Google Guarantee is a badge displayed whenever your LSA is shown. It sends a trust signal to customers.

About Google Guarantee

Google Guaranteed vs Google Screened

Google Guaranteed is typically available for home service professionals and works regarding customer satisfaction. If a customer who booked service via a Local Services Ad is not satisfied with the quality of the work, Google might reimburse the customer up to the amount they paid for the service (with a lifetime cap per customer of $2,000 in the United States). Think plumbers, electricians, lawn care, and the like.

Google Screened, on the other hand, is regarding business professionals. It is a badge of verification but does not come with the associated possibility of reimbursement. Only businesses that provide professional services, including law, financial planning, and real estate, are eligible for the Google Screened badge. It is only available for select verticals in the US and the UK.

What You Need to Get Google Guaranteed

Local Service Ads - Getting Google Screened

The background check component used to take as much as two weeks to complete. Now, it’s usually a matter of a few business days.

You’ll need the following information to set up your LSA profile:

  • Name of business (and any DBA)
  • Your legal name
  • Phone number (this can be a call recording number—but can only be changed through a Google rep)
  • Website (if any)
  • Photos of your business
  • Photos of you
  • Business Insurance
  • Year your business opened/years of experience.
  • Professional License

I find it’s best to collect the info you’ll need before you begin rather than trying to fix it once launched. This means setting up call recording numbers beforehand (use a non-dynamic number).

LSA Best Practice

As we discussed, you cannot do much to manage LSAs. However, the things you can do have a big impact.

Consider your budget and bid aggressively early on

First and foremost, your budget and bid will greatly impact how often your ad serves and where it serves in the LSA bracket. As a general rule, budgets should be set more aggressively than you intend actually to spend. This will give Google the room to ramp up while also ensuring you are competitive in the auction.

For example, if you intend to spend $10K per month, the budget should be set closer to $30K-$50K per month during the first 60 days of the profile. Once your account is running, you can experiment with dialing the budget back.

Experiment with manual bids

If you’re struggling to get traction, you can experiment with manual bids, which will let you set more or less aggressive bids by the services you’ve opted into. While this usually isn’t ideal once an account is running and bringing in steady leads, it can be a useful tactic to help get the campaign going/improve performance during a slump.

Be disciplined about the services and locations you target

On the subject of services, it’s important to apply a disciplined approach to the number of services and locations you opt into. Profiles can’t really support all eligible services and markets—you’ll want to create multiple profiles to support multiple markets. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to focus on no more than three main services and locations. This way, your budget can do the job you want it to do, rather than being spread too thin.

While the three maximum is a good rule to live by, it’s also important to be practical. If you’ve historically valued leads the same and/or there isn’t enough volume for a service/location to get its own profile, it can be ok to include it. Just be aware that LSAs do factor proximity into ranking.

Make sure your images include elbows (yes, really.)

Navah Hopkins
Example image—author pictured.

Finally, here’s a note about the images you use for your team members. Google has been known to disapprove of images that don’t show the elbow of the person in them. So make sure your headshot highlights at least that much of you.

Monitoring the Performance of Your LSAs

The lead volume and cost are the main things to keep an eye on with LSAs.

Local Service Ads - Performance Tracking

Lead volume is tracked based on calls and messages received. Reports will show you how many leads you received and how many you were charged for. You can also see a breakdown of new, active, and archived leads.

Archiving a lead means it didn’t work out, so you couldn’t get the business. Disputing a lead means the lead flat out isn’t right. Disputing is a way to potentially get money back and teach Google that they need to amend the kind of traffic they’re sending you.

Cost and cost per lead are shown in the reports section. It’s normal for lulls in the middle of the month and spikes at the end/beginning. This is due to Google doing its best to spend your budget.

We also gained impression share in 2023. This means we can get useful insights into whether the volume we’re getting (or not) is due to competitiveness or lack of market.

Get Started with LSAs

Local Service Ads are a powerful channel and are absolutely worth testing if you’re a local business. They have a “first person mover advantage” mechanic, so if you haven’t set them up yet, you may find main metros to be competitive. Consider targeting slightly outside the main metro, and don’t be afraid to restart a profile if it seems to be stuck.

Don’t forget about Microsoft’s Bing. Microsoft launched a professional service ad offering that harnesses the same functionality as traditional campaigns. If Google is crowded, that’s a way to bypass the competition.

Read The Original Article by Bright Local

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