Coming soon to a SERP near you: Google brings bidding to Local Services Ads
Google announced in September 2020 that it will open up Local Services Ads (LSAs) to auction-based bidding.
Right now its focus is on the US market and a limited subset of advertisers – but it’s expected that these innovations will fairly quickly wing their way across the pond to the UK.
Here’s the story so far and a guide to Local Service Ads (aka forthcoming attractions).
Q: What’s new?
A: A selection of advertisers across the expanding list of LSA categories now can bid as part of a new beta test. These advertisers will be notified by Google if they are eligible.
Q: What about me?
A: If this beta test is successful you can expect bidding to become generally available sometime next year in the US and shortly thereafter in the UK.
Q: Hang on a minute how have LSAs worked without bidding?
A: Up to now a fixed pricing model has been used based on a set cost per lead by LSA category and locality. This has been operating since 2015.
And now you can bid.
Q: What’s a lead?
A: You can choose whether you want to define leads as calls, appointment bookings or messages.
What’s more, Google does some qualifying for you. Upon clicking on a local advertisers’ listing, Google prompts the user to confirm the job they’re looking for fits you and your service area matches. After this, they can review your qualification, ratings, and reviews before reaching out as a lead.
Q: I can’t quite picture it – what does an LSA look like?
A: Here you go.
Q: What’s this Google Guaranteed badge?
A: In order to participate, advertisers must be certified as Google Guaranteed or Google Screened.
Both programs involve licensing, insurance and background checks.
In an unrelated move, recently Google has made the Google Guaranteed badge available to non-advertisers as part of an upgraded profile (for a fee of $50 each month). Currently, the Google Screened certification is only available for LSA advertisers.
Q: Why should I care?
A: One of the major benefits of LSAs is that they appear at the very top of search results, above traditional ads and above the Local Map Pack.
In addition, they prominently feature reviews and the trust signal of Google Guaranteed or Google Screened which helps build trust.
And you pay per qualified lead not click.
Q: How are bids being placed?
A: Bids are still on a cost per lead rather than a cost per click basis.
Q (more like a statement): Gimme, gimme, gimme!