In the wild and ever-changing world of Google, the recent buzz about Local Service Ads (LSAs) is getting a lot of attention. What are these LSAs anyway, and why is everybody talking about them?
LSAs are a lead generation tool that connects potential local clients directly with you through a phone call, email, text or intake software. There’s no detour through your website because LSAs go directly to your electronic front door. LSAs’ sweet spot is connecting potential customers to local businesses nearby. For small- and medium-sized businesses, this could be a nifty opportunity, though it may be a little too early to tell.
LSAs are different than Google’s pay-per-click ads (because of the detour around your website), and they are priced differently. When a user makes one click on your LSA ad, your phone rings or your mobile gets a text.
The cost/payment model for LSAs is different than some of Google’s other advertising programs. LSAs are a cost-per-lead program rather than a pay-per-click program. What does that mean? It means a business is charged each time it receives a call/email/text/online intake through Google’s LSA app. The cost of leads varies, depending on the industry and geographic region, but what we do know from the data is that a lead—say, for a water restoration service—costs about $150.
Google’s LSA program is just in the beta testing stage right now with a pilot program for home improvement companies such as HVAC, electricians, painters, and roofers. The pilot has been going on for about two years with plans to expand the program to other industries and professions nationwide.
A Badge of Credibility
Google announced that LSAs will have a credibility-type badge or seal showing that Google has vetted the company and given it the thumbs up. It’s not exactly an endorsement–more like a clean bill of health. To earn this badge, businesses must pass an extensive business verification and screening process requiring copies of licenses, proof of insurance, and a complete background check. The badges are designed to give potential customers confidence that you are who you say you are.
LSAs are ads that appear at the very top of a Google search results page. There are only three, appearing horizontally in a row. That means there’s a bit of Google glamour associated with these ads because there is a limited number per industry in each local area.
LSAs are Google’s brainchild designed to provide hyper-local advertising opportunities. For example, a user who keys in the search term “electrician near me” will be quickly greeted with three electricians’ ads at the top of the page. These ads–say, Bob’s Bulbs, Evergreen Electric, and Sparky’s Service–will then compete for the user’s attention and hopefully result in a click that alerts the business. The key is that the only ads showing would be extremely close to the user’s geographic location.
What LSAs Are Not
Here’s the scoop about what LSAs are not:
- LSAs are NOT Local SEARCH Ads: These are NOT Local SEARCH Ads that run in Google Ads/AdWords, which are the location/map-based ads that are triggered with a Search Ads location extension.
- LSAs are NOT Google AdWords: Google Local SERVICE Ads (LSAs) do NOT run in Google Ads/AdWords. LSAs are a completely separate program. The LSA ads show up on the search engine results page, but only allow for direct calls, text messaging or online calendar appointment booking.
We know, we know. Some of Google’s names for programs and platforms sound an awful lot alike, but it’s important to understand the differences. That way, businesses can make informed decisions and leverage every dime of their marketing budget.
What LSAs Are
LSAs are something new and pretty—meant to raise the decibels of excitement around Google’s ever-expanding world. These ads are simple, direct, and a whole new way of attracting local traffic. The idea is that businesses with LSAs can grab a potential client immediately, rather than users being directed to a business’s website where the searcher may or may not initiate a meaningful lead-generating click. A business with an LSA sets a weekly budget in the Google Local Service Ads app. A fee is deducted when a potential client takes action (text, call, email, etc.).
Google decides which LSAs to display based on certain factors. These include:
- Proximity to potential customer’s location
- A company’s online reputation
- Quality of a company’s reviews
- A business’s level of engagement with the LSA app.
A business doesn’t get to decide which keywords trigger their LSA ad. That privilege is retained by Google. What a business can do to increase their chances of being displayed is work hard to build up positive online reviews (especially on Google My Business) and interact frequently with the LSA app.
How Do I Decide Whether LSAs Are For Me?
Good question. That really will depend on what kind of traffic you’re looking for and whether some of your service areas lend themselves to commodity-type transactions. LSAs seem best suited to SERVICE PROVIDERS. This may be the kind of thing that business will need to take a “wait and see” approach with, especially since LSAs are not yet available for all fields. So there you have it – LSAs in a nutshell.