As a small business owner, you’re always on the hunt for competitive advantages to dominate your local market.
The key for huge sales growth is to focus on “big impact” activities. And there’s nothing more impactful than using customer reviews and social proof to optimize cost-efficient advertising!
With Google marketing for small business, 97% of customers discover local companies online before anywhere else and 88% contact the business they find on Google within a day.
With this kind of potential, it’s essential to consider why Local Services Ads could be a gamechanger for your local business.
In this article, I’ll overview what are Local Services Ads and how to use them to benefit your company.
Since Google reviews are integral for Local Services Ads, I’ll also outline the benefits of a reputation marketing software to get more reviews and grow your business.
Local Services Ads by Google is a pay-per-lead advertising platform designed for locally based small businesses.
They’re ideal for home-service companies, like cleaners, contractors, landscapers, plumbers and more. Hence the “local services” in the name!
But any type of business that caters to a regional market might qualify for these types of ads as well. They’re becoming increasingly popular with neighborhood law firms, for instance.
Below are examples of Local Services Ads as they appear on desktop when I searched “hvac contractors” on Google in my city of Vancouver.
And here is what Google Local Services look like on a mobile device for “locksmith”:
Google knows how important Maps, My Business and Search are for both local businesses and their customers. So they’re committed to offering positive experiences for these groups.
As a result, Local Services Ads offer many benefits for small businesses to grow their reach, generate more leads and increase their revenue.
Let’s overview the benefits of Google Local Services Ads.
Unlike other advertising platforms like Google Ads or Facebook Ads Manager (which also includes Instagram), Local Services Ads are pay-per-lead instead of pay-per-click.
That means Google only charges you when you receive a lead from the service and not when someone clicks on your ad.
Best of all, Google qualifies leads for you.
After potential customers click on an ad, they confirm their location and the type of work they need.
If their answers don’t align with your criteria, Google will attempt to send the lead elsewhere. This saves you money and time from pursuing a lead who isn’t a fit for your company.
Across all industries, the average cost-per-action (an approximate metric to cost-per-lead) for Google Ads is $48.96 for the Search Network and $75.51 for the Display Network.
And even though the average cost-per-action on Facebook is only $18.68, industries not typically associated with “local services” weigh that number down.
Indeed, the averages for the industries identified as Consumer Services and Home Improvement are US$31.11 and US$44.66, respectively.
By comparison, Local Services by Google are a lot cheaper.
How expensive are Google Local Services Ads? The average cost-per-lead is only about $28 (although data shows that costs range a lot depending on your region and service).
All in all, Google Local Services Ads is one of the cheapest and most cost-efficient advertising platforms available for locally based small companies.
Besides Google Local Services Ads promising a lower average cost-per-lead than typical Google Ads, they also offer flexible budgeting options.
You can create automated per-lead budgets or set a maximum per-lead budget manually.
Plus, business owners have the extra option of setting a maximum weekly budget.
Google advises that your weekly costs might exceed your weekly budget. But your monthly costs will never exceed your weekly budget when Google extrapolates it to a full month.
Businesses with Google Local Services are “Google Guaranteed” with a green checkmark.
That’s because as part of Google’s commitment for authenticity, companies that advertise with Local Services are subject to a background check and proof of insurance.
This way, Google can ensure that they promote reliable businesses with strong reputations.
It also helps you provide leads with peace of mind when they reach out to your business. So with Local Services Ads, you immediately gain a step up over competitors.
Keep in mind that the Google Guarantee comes with an important caveat. If a customer is unhappy with your work, Google can reimburse the customer directly.
Google promises that they will always give you “an opportunity to make things right with your customer.”
But if the customer remains unsatisfied and if Google determines that their dissatisfaction is warranted, Google will pay them out and your future ad-placement rankings will take a hit.
Google Local Services Ads claim a very prominent screen position on SERPs (search-engine results pages).
Take this example for the search query “plumbers.”
Local Services Ads appear not only above organic results but also above the Google Maps “Local 3-Pack.” They’re even placed above ads from the Google Ads Search Network.
They’re literally the first thing potential customers see when they search on Google for a service provider. This means they have the power to attract a lot of attention.
What’s more, Google also features them as results in Google Assistant for voice queries!
Imagine a potential customer saying to their Google Nest Hub or their Google Pixel phone, “Hey Google, find me an electrician.”
If you’re a local electrician, your company could get buried in the results without Local Services Ads.
Did you know that Local Services by Google is one more avenue to collect customer reviews?
With Local Services, you’ll get a unique profile URL where customers can review your business.
And customer reviews are great examples of social proof because they show off your reputation to help promote your business.
Local Services sources reviews from your Google My Business account. Note that for the time being, reviews left on a Local Services profile don’t appear on Google My Business.
So it's important to know the Google My Business setup.
Below is an example of a San Diego plumber with a large discrepancy between Google My Business reviews and Google Local Services reviews.
As you can see, they have 550 reviews on their Local Services profile and only 111 from Google My Business. So by default, they’ve collected 439 reviews from Local Services.
This is just food for thought. Keep in mind the above example is an extreme case.
And with reviews, Google claims that “Local Services Ads reviews may be combined with other reviews across Google in the coming months.”
As with the success of your Google My Business account, the quality and quantity of your customer reviews greatly impact the performance of your Local Services ad.
Here are the two top reasons why customer reviews are essential for Local Services Ads:
It’s important to emphasize how much customer reviews correlate with high ad placements.
Unlike with other major ad platforms, Google Local Services Ads rely more on reviews instead of budgets.
That’s because the purpose of Google Local Services is to promote and reward a company’s reputation.
Google doesn’t even provide you the option to customize ad copy. And they only introduced bid budgets in 2020 despite rebranding and expanding Local Services starting in 2017.
Some elements are largely out of your control; e.g., a lead’s location and the context of their search query. But the most impactful factor for Local Services is customer reviews.
Your Local Services ad shows both your review count and your review score from both Google My Business and your Local Services profile.
And getting more positive customer reviews helps people see your ad more often.
But there’s a unique feature about customer reviews in Local Services that could be groundbreaking. That’s Google Verified Reviews.
Google wants to improve the authenticity of reviews so customers can be sure that your business rating isn’t inflated with fake reviews.
This verification works as a great selling point for your company.
Here’s an example of a “verified job”:
How do Google verified jobs work?
Since Google can capture and route leads to your business with Local Services Ads, they’re better able to track themselves as the lead source.
So Google can confirm if a customer booked your business via Local Services. When that customer writes a review, it will say “Google verified job” with the job type listed.
It’s obvious that reviews are important for your success on Local Services by Google.
Without lots of customer reviews and five-star ratings, your business runs a risk of your Local Services ad not being discoverable.
Because Google reviews impact ad placement, they make or break your revenue potential on the platform.
The key to success then is to make sure you’re doing the basics right.
First, make sure you understand what it takes to get customer reviews.
And when you receive negative ratings, appreciate the value of responding to negative reviews. You might be able to flip one star to five stars with a thoughtful response.
Always provide excellent customer service. Ask yourself what you can do to get not a five-star review but an 11-star review.
With NiceJob’s reputation marketing software, we make it easy to get Google reviews so you can watch your sales blow through the roof.
Setting up Local Services by Google is simple. Below we’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to start bringing in those leads and growing your business!
Mosey on over to the Local Services Ads registration page and check your eligibility.
For now, Google restricts this platform to particular types of local businesses and only to certain geographical locations.
If you’re ineligible, you can request a notification for when your eligibility status might change, as seen below.
If you are eligible, after entering your business details (company name, service type, address, city, number of technicians, year of founding, etc.), you’ll define your service area.
Ad visibility and lead qualification are dependent on what neighborhoods, by postal or zip code, your company services.
Let’s say you’re registering as an appliance-repair business in Tampa, Florida. From the below screenshot, you’ll see that you can define which zip-code regions you service.
Next, clarify the particular kinds of services within your industry in which you specialize.
This is also important for the same reasons as setting your service regions.
It helps Google decide which ads from what companies to display based on a person’s search query. It also aids Google in qualifying leads before passing them off to you.
As you can see from our example below, with appliance repair, you can choose what kinds of appliances your technicians can fix.
Here you’ll also confirm that your company has the accreditation, if it’s necessary, to perform the work that you do.
When setting your hours of operation, keep in mind that Google displays this information on your actual advertisement.
Due to the nature of local services, customers often need services now.
For this reason, hours of operation are also a factor in ad-placement visibility.
So if you don’t operate 24/7 and a lead searches for an emergency service technician at 1:30 a.m. for service by 3 a.m., don’t expect for them to see your ad.
The next stages in the registration process involve getting your Google Verification.
First you’ll need to upload documents to prove that your business has liability insurance.
The amount of coverage required varies by industry. Google will provide you with the specific details when you get to this step.
Your business will also be subject to a background check.
What’s involved in a Google Local Services background check?
They’ll verify that your company, your business partners, employees or you yourself are free of any previous criminal, commercial or financial wrongdoing.
Google overlooks most minor and trivial transgressions, pending circumstances. As long as there aren’t any serious misdeeds to your name or your company’s, you should be fine.
The next step is to sync your Google My Business account with your Local Services profile.
Customer reviews are helpful but also necessary. Google requires at least one existing review to get started.
By syncing a Google My Business account that already has customer reviews on it, you can leverage those reviews to get started.
The final setup steps include setting your bid and budget amounts, plus providing a credit card for billing.
Once Google approves everything, you’re ready to go live! Hopefully those leads start flowing in like gravy so your revenue numbers climb to the next level.
How do you receive and contact leads in Google Local Services?
You’ll log in to your account via the same webpage where you go to first sign up. Google also offers an app for Local Services.
Once logged in, you’ll see a dashboard where you can manage your leads.
Below is an example of what that dashboard looks like for an electrician in San Francisco.
When sorting through your leads, you have three options for followups: Reply (by email or text message), Call (using the phone number provided) or Decline.
If you decline, Google will remove them from your list and notify them, but you can recover the lead if something changes. You’ll also have the option to send an explanatory message.
Remember, how responsive you are to leads is one of the factors that determines how often your ad appears, so don’t neglect your followup sequences.
Local Services Ads point to the future of reputation marketing.
With Google-verified social proof and reviews integrations, if you own or operate a local home-service business, Local Services Ads can be the icing to your company’s cake.
That’s because they are the perfect complement to your existing marketing campaigns.
And for help to get more customer reviews on Google and improve your reputation marketing, check out NiceJob to own your neighborhood.