3 Tips for Managing Local Services Ads

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Google started testing Local Services ads (previously called Home Service Ads) back in 2015 in the San Francisco area in a few industries including locksmiths and plumbers. The search giant expanded those ads to the San Diego area in November 2016 and has been rapidly expanding this platform across different verticals and markets in the USA over the last two years.  

The Local Services ad format generally pops up above the regular ads in a carousel format.  

If you’re considering running Local Services ads, here are three things to know before getting started.

1. Don’t Cancel Your AdWords (Google Ads) Account

In our experience, Local Services Ads are generally cheaper per lead than Google Ads (formerly AdWords). However, Local Services ads don’t always show up for all the different keyword variations all the time, so a business looking for a high lead volume could be disappointed if it cancelled its Ads account.

For example, the business depicted in the image below got 19 leads in the last two months from its regular Google ads account and 19 leads from Local Services ads. The cost per lead with Local Services ads is less than half the cost per lead for the business’ regular ads account, but provided the business is still getting a good ROI on $53 a lead, keeping the Ads account would just result in twice as many leads.

2. Don’t Expect Prices to Stay this Low

Remember when you used to be able to get clicks in AdWords for five cents? That didn’t last too long in most verticals on which I used to work 10 years ago. Local Services ads are still very new so there are tons of businesses that have not signed up for them simply because they don’t understand the benefit.

Currently, the cost per lead for Local Services ads varies quite a bit based on the market area and industry. Tom Waddington put together a huge comprehensive list of the current cost per market and area. It ranges from $5 a lead for a locksmith in Seattle to $90 a lead for a water damage restoration business in San Diego.

I anticipate that as competition increases and more businesses get set up on the platform, costs per lead will rise.

3. Watch For New Settings & Features

As this product evolves, Google will likely continue to add new functionalities and features inside the Local Services ads dashboard. At the end of July of this year, Google added the ability to add photos and highlights to a listing. However, the majority of the listings I looked at weeks later did not have photos added.

It’s important to keep an eye out for changes, as they are not always well announced. I keep track of all the major updates on this timeline.

If you’re wondering when Google will launch Local Services ads in your market/industry, you will likely hear from Google if you’re a local business. The company does a pretty good job of contacting all the businesses in affected areas. If you work at an agency, I’d keep a close eye on Tom Waddington’s list of all the places where Local Services ads are currently launched. Several people have noticed messaging in the Help Center at Google, which makes it seem that the UK will be the next country to which Google expands these ads.

Joy is the owner of Sterling Sky in Canada and is the author of the Expert’s Guide to Local SEO, which is an advanced training manual for people wanting a detailed look at what it takes to succeed in the Local SEO space.  She has been working in the industry since 2006.  She has a monthly column on Search Engine Land and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as SMX, LocalU and State of Search.  You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Top Contributor on the Google My Business Forum.