Google Local Services Ads: A Guide to Get Started

Google’s Local Services Ads are a great way to generate more leads for your business. 

Instead of taking out a costly PPC (pay-per-click) ad for your plumbing firm — and with it, undertake keyword research, figure out bidding strategies, and still end up getting the wrong eyes on your ads — Google Local Services Ads focuses on getting you valid leads in the area where you actually operate. 

But what is Google Local Services Ads, how do you set them up, and do you even qualify? This handy guide will walk you through the basics. 

What Is Google Local Services?

Google Local Services Ads are a form of paid search ads with a twist. Like PPC ads, they appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), but Google displays them above both the organic search results and the PPC ones, targeted to users located in your area. 

You don’t need to create the ad or any meta text or copy: Google generates the ads from your business profile.

Here’s what a local services ad looks like on the SERPs: 

hvac boston google local services ads on serp

What’s the Difference Between Local Services Ads and PPC? 

Local Services Ads are pay per lead, not pay per click. Designed to find you reliable leads, and to provide users with reliable search results, your budget is calculated based on the number of people who ultimately click through your ad to contact you. 

With Google Local Service Ads, you also aren’t expected to do the hard work of keyword research or testing to find users. Instead, Google generates an ad according to your location, business hours, services offered, and highlight features, that then will be shown to potential customers searching for thousands of relevant keywords in your area. 

The distinction between Google Local Services and paid search is important, because it’s definitely not a case of either/or — they should support each other. Potential customers may choose you over another LSA result because your business also pops up in the paid or organic listings, so having both will make for a better conversion rate. 

Customers can click on your ad to look at your opening hours, read about your services, send you a message or give you a call — you won’t pay anything until they contact you. It’s up to you to call them back, email, text, or decline the lead. Plus, you only pay if they contact you directly through the ad. 

What Is a Local Service and How Do I Know if My Business Qualifies?

Local service ads are designed to take advantage of the combination of a specific transactional search intent (e.g. “locksmith open now”) with Google’s location services. 

If you offer services to a specific area, or are located in a brick-and-mortar establishment in that area, you can take out a Google Local Services Ad. 

Currently, there is a broad range of services eligible for sponsored local listings with Google.

You can advertise your business for these services with Google LSAs, and also advertise yourself as a local professional if you work independently (i.e. with no admin personnel). Professional services are available for lawyers, real estate agents and tax specialists. 

Before you can access the sign-up form, Google will check your eligibility. 

Its “eligibility checker” helps you determine if your business meets the requirements for a Local Services Ad, with drop-down menus and checkboxes so that you can see at a glance if LSAs are available for your field (and sign up for updates if they aren’t yet).

How Much Does Google Local Services Cost? 

Unlike PPC ads, Google Local Service Ads are charged by leads related to your business or services, not just by click. When setting up your budget, you’ll be asked the average number of leads you want per week, as well as your weekly spend. 

If you’re new to using Google Local Services Ads, it’s best to begin with at least 20 leads per week to make sure you see results. 

Also, you should remember that your Local Services Ads budget is separate from your Google Ads budget – if you have both kinds of ads, that means two budgets to keep track of! 

How Does Google Use My Budget?

The weekly budget is part of a monthly maximum budget — your average weekly budget multiplied by the average number of weeks in a month. 

In theory, you might go a little over budget some weeks if a particularly high number of people are searching for your services in your area. If a cold snap means a lot of pipes burst in your neighbourhood, everyone’s going to be looking for a plumber. 

With all these viable leads around, Google will ensure you don’t exceed your monthly maximum by readjusting the number of leads it sends you. If you receive a lead after you’ve reached your monthly max, it’ll be credited back to your account. Google offers some information about how and when you’ll be charged for your ads.

How Do I Manage My Google Local Services Budget?

You can check how much you’ve been charged and the status of your budget at any time in the Google Local Services Ads portal or via the app. The amount you pay per lead can vary depending on your location, the type of service you provide and the type of lead. For example, message leads are half the price of a phone lead.

You can also dispute leads you believe to be invalid, such as spam messages or fraud. If you’re successful in challenging the lead, it will be credited back to your account. 

How Do I Set Up Google Local Services Ads?

It’s easy to set up a Google Local Services Ad. Simply follow Google’s step-by-step registration process to create your business profile and check your eligibility. 

If you already have a business profile, you’re already part of the way there, as these details will be used to generate the ad.

Here’s what the process looks like:

1. Tell Google About Your Business: 

Google needs to know where you are, what you do, and what your budget is. This lets them know who to show your ad to, as well as how competitive the area is for the kind of business you run. You can adjust the area your ad will be shown to down to the exact streets!

You can also add extra features or perks of your business under highlights (Google recommends 2-5) to set yourself apart from competition. Some things you’d consider highlighting might be that you’re a locally-owned and -operated business, that you offer a military discount, or other perks. 

2. Ad Preview generated 

Using the information you entered, Google will generate an ad for you. You can review the details and make any tweaks you need.

3. Insurance and Legal check

Google will then run a background check to make sure that you and your employees meet local legal and insurance requirements. 

This is done through a third party and you won’t have to pay for it — you can even track its progress.

Once the background check is complete, your ad will be approved, and sport a green check: the Google Guarantee.

What Is a Google Guarantee?

The Google Guarantee is a seal of approval for businesses that Google has verified and vetted, which pushes that business further up in the rankings. 

But this guarantee of quality is no joke, as customers that book a service through a Local Services Ad and are unsatisfied with the work completed (or uncompleted) can seek reimbursement from Google. 

There is a lifetime cap to this coverage, and it varies region to region — but eligible customers can demand up to $2,000 from Google for shoddy service. 

How Do I Make the Most of Google Local Services Ads?

First and foremost, Google chooses which local service providers to put on top according to how relevant they are to the search terms. 

However, when there are multiple providers in your area, Google will rank the multiple options based on how many customers they expect to contact your business. 

Factors that May Impact Your Local Service Ad’s Ranking:

  • If you are verified with a Google Screened or Guaranteed badge 
  • The customer’s search terms, when they did the search, and the relevance 
  • How many reviews your business has, and how good they are
  • How quickly you respond to customer questions and inquiries 
  • How close you are to the customer
  • Your business hours
  • If there have been serious or repeated complaints about your business to Google

The aim of the game is finding the best fit for the user/customer, and therefore the strongest lead for you.

Boost Your Ranking with Good Reviews 

What your customers say about you matters. Making sure that all your customers leave you high reviews will not only increase your likelihood of appearing in the SERPs, but it also could improve your conversion rate too. 

Plus, Google Local Services Ads are one of the last ways to make sure that your star ratings appear front-and-center in the SERPs.

Tip: Manage your Google reviews with Semrush’s Listing Management Tool. Reply to user reviews, take suggestions, and provide quality service to customers to make sure your business’s reputation soars. 

Manage Your Leads Effectively 

Google only charges you for leads, but it’s your responsibility to handle them properly — and following up on leads quickly and reliably will boost your ranking and improve your reviews.

You can view and manage your leads, as well as via the Local Services Ads App (Android and iOS). 

There, you can review the details of the request (e.g., job type, location, timing) or, if the user contacted you by phone, listen to the audio recording of their message. 

Once you’ve reviewed the lead, you can:

  • Reply via message (the customer will receive it as an email or SMS message).
  • Call them back via the phone number listed. 
  • Decline, and the lead will disappear from your Leads Manager and the customer will be informed you’ve turned down the job. 

Accepting jobs through the Leads Manager will not only help you keep in touch with your customers (important for getting reviews!), but also track upcoming jobs and produce reports on your Local Service Ads’ ROI. 

Set Up Google Local Services Ads and Monitor Your Business Listing with Semrush

Google Local Services Ads are a great way to gain additional business without breaking your ad spend budget. To ensure that your business gains visibility and ranks well, it’s important to keep track of your digital profile. 

Stay on top of reviews using the Semrush Listing Management Tool, and you’ll keep a clean profile that will help you perform better when you run Google Local Services Ads. 

However, when it comes to improving your business’ reputation, quality service is the key. Get started and run your local service ads today.

Author Photo
Connor LaheyEditor, SEO strategist, and writer. Enjoys monitoring SERP volatility. You can find me reading Tolkien in the far north of Norway.
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