The more real estate you can claim on Google search engine results pages (SERPs), the better.
Generally, more real estate means more eyeballs—which could mean more clicks and sales.
Local Service Ads are an underused way to claim more real estate on SERPs, especially when people search for your service.
However, not everyone who’s eligible to use these ads is, in fact, using them.
Why not? Probably because these ads require the advertiser to do some upfront legwork.
Which begs the question… are Local Service Ads worth the hassle of setting up?
What Do Google Local Service Ads Look Like?
Before we describe the hoops you need to jump through to use Local Service Ads, let’s first explain what these ads look like—and what makes them such a great format.
Here’s an example of a Local Service Ad that impressioned when we searched “family law Boston”:
As you can see, this ad has a “Google Screened” checkmark at the top (circled in pink) along with headshots, ratings, hours, and number of years in business. It impressioned at the top of the search engine results page, above both text ads and organic search results.
They’re very hard to miss, which is what makes them so valuable.
How to Get Started With Local Service Ads
Unfortunately, you can’t just start using Local Service Ads like you can most other Google ad formats. Instead, you have to go through a review and approval process—which is where the “hassle factor” kicks in.
The first step is to figure out what category of Local Service Ad you qualify for: Google Screened Ads or Google Guaranteed Ads.
Google Screened Ads
Google Screened Ads are for professional service firms, such as law firms, real estate brokers, financial planners, and childcare service providers. These firms go through background checks and license checks as part of the Google Screened Ads approval process.
Once approved, these firms can start using Local Service Ads. They will appear with the Google Screened badge (as in the example above).
Google Guaranteed Ads
Google Guaranteed Ads are for home service providers, such as HVAC, appliance repair, house cleaning, painting, locksmiths, and plumbers. These service providers also have to go through a background and license verification check.
These ads appear with the Google Guarantee badge (a white checkmark on a green circle).
Unlike Google Screened Ads, Google Guaranteed Ads provide a money-back guarantee to customers. If someone finds a home service provider through a Local Services Ad and is unsatisfied with the work, Google may reimburse them, within certain lifetime limits. (In the U.S., for example, the limit is $2,000.)
Requests for reimbursement must be sent within 30 days of the service completion date.
The Screening and Verification Process
The screening and verification process for both of these ads varies depending on the business category and location.
Family lawyers, for example, don’t have to pass a background check because licensed attorneys already have to pass a background check. They must, however, have professional liability insurance and each lawyer in the firm must have a state bar license.
Firms must upload proof that they have met these requirements, which Google then confirms. Here are the details as an example:
The requirements for a water damage service company, in contrast, are slightly different. They have to provide a background check as well as proof of insurance and licenses. They also have to provide proof of IICRC certification.
Here’s a screenshot of those requirements:
Businesses must also have Google reviews to use Local Service Ads (which makes sense since the Google rating is a prominent part of these ads). Businesses must maintain a 3.0 rating or higher or their ads will go offline.
The number of reviews required can vary. In the case of the two examples above—family law and water damage services—only one review is needed.
The One-Two Punch of Local Service Ads and Paid Search Text Ads
While Local Service Ads are great, they’re not a replacement for Google search text ads. In fact, the two ad formats can work together to claim even more real estate on SERPs.
Here’s an example:
The Local Services Ad for this waterproofing company is circled in pink (top) and then a text ad for the same company (circled just below) also displays. Nice, right?!
Local Service Ads Are Worth Testing
If you’re still wondering whether Local Service Ads are worth the hassle … we have to conclude the answer is “Yes!”
This ad format is too promising to ignore. It’s worth jumping through the necessary hoops to test them out.
You may find they pay back your efforts many, many times over.