Google has moved into a market space initially created by the likes of Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor: connecting homeowners with installation, maintenance, and repair services in their neighborhood.
Google’s product, called Google Local Service Ads (LSA), is superficially similar to Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor but it is markedly different on three counts:
- LSA is a pay per lead (PPL) service while the others were either subscription-based or free
- Customers do not need an account to use LSA. They just need to do a Google search for the services they require and the businesses that offer those services appear in the search engine results page (SERP).
- LSA is backed by Google’s excellent internet capabilities. This make LSA the 800-pound gorilla of the service marketplace.
Since more than 80% of internet searches are handled by Google, it is imperative that home service providers sign up with LSA.
What is LSA? How to enroll in LSA? What are its benefits and costs? What are some tips for leveraging its capabilities?
What is LSA?
LSA is a recent product from Google that prominently lists local businesses at the top of the search results when the search query suggests a need for services provided by that business. The results on a personal computer (PC) will show three services, two services on a cell phone, and just one through the Google Assistant. PC and cell phone results will list a “More <search query>” link that will open up a new results page with all the businesses that have registered with LSA. This full list will include both the free as well as paid businesses. The results will include the following:
- Verifying the insurance and licensing credentials of the business
- Completion of criminal background checks for the business’ employees by Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations
Where is LSA available?
Google started beta testing LSA in San Francisco, CA in 2015 and has been making it available outside San Francisco from 2017 onwards. Currently, LSA is available in most large metro areas in the US and is rapidly growing to cover all of the US. Google plans to make it available outside the US in the near future.
As of August 2019, LSA is available in these areas:
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
- Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
- Greensboro-Winston-Charlotte-Concord, NC
- Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
- Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
- Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
- Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
- Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
- Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
- Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA
- San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
- San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
- Louis, MO-IL
- Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
What Services are Available through LSA?
The list below is not an exhaustive one since the services and the areas they are available in are constantly growing.
These services are offered in all areas where LSA is available:
- Garage door installation, maintenance, and repair
- Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
And, these services are available only in some areas through LSA:
- Air duct cleaning
- Appliance repair service
- Automobile maintenance and repair including windshield and window glass replacement
- Carpet cleaning
- Event planning
- Handyman services
- Home improvement
- House cleaning including upholstery cleaning
- Junk disposal
- Lawn and Tree services
- Pest control
- Pet care and grooming
- Roadside assistance
- Water damage services
- Window cleaning
How to Join LSA and How Much does it Cost?
Customers need not do anything to see the LSA listings in their SERP. And, by using “GOOGLE GUARANTEED” businesses customers can be sure that Google will bear the cost of an unsatisfactory job up to a lifetime maximum of $2,000.
Businesses can sign up to participate in the LSA program at the LSA website. Occasionally, in areas that are new to the program or when adding new service categories, Google representatives will reach out to businesses by phone or email to enlist them. This is a good opportunity for businesses to get a head start in the LSA program.
Once signed up, businesses are charged on a PPL basis up to a maximum of a weekly budget set by the business. A phone call or a text message over the platform by the potential customer to the business is considered a lead. The PPL cost varies with the market and the business type. The average cost across all business types and locations is about $24 per lead, but it can range from as low as $5 to more than $130.
Businesses have the option to pause their participation in the program through the Google Local Services dashboard or app. Once paused, they will not receive ‘top billing’ by being listed in the LSA section of the SERP. They will continue to be listed in the free section, below the paid listings, and their “GOOGLE GUARANTEED” badge will not be displayed. But they are not charged for any leads they may receive while paused. Businesses can reactivate their participation at any time.
Benefits of LSA
Businesses get the following benefits, in addition to the high visibility on the SERP, by joining the LSA program.
- It is a PPL, not a PPC (pay per click), program
- It has a simple, easy to operate user interface
- The PPL cost is not high
- High lead conversion rate
- It takes some effort to join the program, but there are no hidden costs or additional obligations after joining
- “GOOGLE GUARANTEED” badge motivates customers to take a closer look at a business
- No need to reach customers through cold calls, customers will reach out to the business when they need the service
- No need for fancy landing pages since the LSA listing is a barebones one
- No need to worry about keywords since Google decides the correlation between the business types and keywords
- Businesses can easily control their participation through the Pause/Reactivate feature
- Continued visibility, albeit at a lower rank, even when LSA is paused
How to maximize the benefits of LSA?
Businesses can take certain steps to get the most bang out of their LSA dollars. Some of these are specific to LSA but others are just good business practices. LSA increases the visibility of a business’s competitors just as it improves the business’s own visibility. So these steps are important to an LSA participant that wants to stay ahead of the competition.
- Sign up early for LSA.
- Get the “GOOGLE GUARANTEED” badge.
- Join the “Google My Business” program and optimize the business’s listing on it.
- Be prompt in following up on incoming leads.
- Focus on the quality of products and services. In particular, increase 5-star ratings and reviews from customers. Proactively ask customers about their satisfaction and request good reviews.
- Maintain consistent business name and phone number across internet directories.
- Be on Google’s good books. This, in turn, means being in your customers’ good books so they don’t complain to Google about their negative experience with your business.
LSA vs Other Marketing Programs from Google
The two other programs from Google that businesses can leverage for improving their visibility on the internet and customer capture rate are AdWords and Google My Business (GMB). Though it is not necessary to have a GMB listing, it is advantageous to have one since customer reviews on a business’s GMB page will be visible through LSA. Moreover, GMB is a free service from Google and it comes with a free website builder service that creates a website with a professional look. So there is no excuse for not having a GMB profile.
LSA is independent of the AdWords program. A business can participate in both as long as they have the budget and resources to simultaneously run the two campaigns.
In summary, businesses need to get on the LSA program as soon as it is available in their market area. And while you are at it, make the extra effort to acquire the “GOOGLE GUARANTEED” badge. A GMB profile improves a business’s Ad Rank in the LSA listing, and since GMB is a free service from Google, there is no argument for not having one.
The combination of LSA and GMB will serve your business very well.
Contact nuagency.com for any help with setting up LSA and related marketing programs for your business.