10 Insider-Tips About Google Local Service Ads
Google Local Service (GLS) Ads have been out for a while now. It launched in beta in 2015 and expanded to 17 cities late 2017. While I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel with another “How to” guide. I thought I’d share my experience with the product.
I signed up a local client of mine on the early-access list. When the program rolled out to Denver, they were accepted. Due to some internal delays, the company didn’t get around to finishing the application progress until recently (April 2018).
Our interest in the product was revamped after we discoved our leads for Adwords in the Denver market were around $120/lead. We were told leads for the Local Service Ads program were a flat-rate $19. We figured if we can get the conversion part of the process down we’d probably save money.
We signed a customer of ours up.
However there were some things about this process that stuck out to me. I thought I’d share some insider-tips I discovered.
1. Adding “Users” to the GLS Account is Awkward
To be candid… it’s terrible and needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out the parent/child access for GLS. Here’s the confusion–you cannot add users to your account from the GSL dashboard. You have to invite people from your Adwords account (tied to your 9-digit PIN).
What makes it even more confusing, you can add people to the payments profile in the GSL dashboard, this will give them access to billing, but they won’t actually be able to access the GLS dashboard.
I could easily see how someone who isn’t savvy with Adwords getting really confused by this, like let’s say… most business owners this product is for.
Side Note: Finding the login screen isn’t easy either, it’s a part of Adwords but it isn’t. What I mean is the GLS dashboard has Adwords in the URL, but you can still log into Adwords and not have access to GLS.
Login for Adwords: https://adwords.google.com/home/
Login for GLS: https://adwords.google.com/localservices/
These are both separate in features, but the same when you are granting access. Confused? Yeah I still am. A few years in and you can definitely tell this product is still figuring itself out.
2. Rank Signals Are Simple
Want to know how to show up #1? Google just tells you. It was one of the most interesting things to me. There are 5 scoring signals:
- Your proximity to potential customers’ locations
- Your review score and the number of reviews you receive
- Your responsiveness to customer inquiries and requests
- Your business hours
- Whether or not we’ve received serious or repeated complaints about your business
I wonder if the rank is factored in that order. In addition, I’d guess the initial rank score is calculated and the last point (the complaints) are calculated after, dampening the rank score.
I’m also suspicious that they do not allow newer accounts to rank very high.
3. Reviews = Rank
When GLS first came out, it was said that reviews were going to be separate from the actual review profile. A couple months in we now know that the reviews for the Local Leads pull from the Google My Business database. My guess is this scoring signal is an expontially-weighted moving average. Basically, it means that newer reviews over a period of time matter more than total reviews.
For us, we have 143 reviews with an aggregate score of 4.3 in the Denver geo.
When we signed up, our rank right away was #14. This was probably mostly from the 143 reviews. Our rank jumped to #11 once we became “Google Guaranteed”. And when we turned on our $250/week budget (average spend in the market was $100), we jumped to #8–which tells me they have something similar in place to Ad Rank.
Also, Google My Business reviews will pull into Local Services, but our Local Services reviews will not forward to Google My Business.
4. Business Backend Systems Required
Since a rank signal is how quickly you respond to a lead. You need to be able to integrate handling the leads from GLS ads into your current systems. This is probably measured in whether or not you answer the initial call from the customer.
Larger companies will have an advantage here, as they are more likely to have dedicated answering services.
5. Use Tracking Numbers for Your Tracking Numbers
To better judge how quality your leads are, I’d recommend installing something to record the calls Google sends you. The reason–Google will show your leads as “Active” (meaning they are quality), even if they aren’t. Recording the calls that come from GLS ads will help you determine if it is a good investment.
Measuring the quality of your leads can help if you ever decide to dispute your leads in your GLS dashboard.
6. Google Tells You Average Spend in Your Market
Google will tell you the “Average Spend” for your market, for Denver… ours was $100/week. This is substantially lower than our Adwords budget. Also, the “Payment Threshold” in Adwords is $500 wheres in Local Service Ads it is $350.
This means that you are billed in $350 increments.
7. Changing Profile Information Is a Nightmare
Since Google required the name we registered with the State of Colorado, we could not use the business DBA. We had to send an email request the name change as we were not allowed to do it in the dashboard.
To make changes to our ad, we had to submit them to the local services email-
email@example.com. We were told the turnaround time for this was 24-48 business hours. A week went by and nothing happened.
Four follow-up calls later our information was finally changed.
There are rumors that the GLS team in California is incredibly backed-up. Since the call center team is different (and in the US), you can call to have changes made over the phone. After what we went through, I’d recommend this.
Also, updates from the call center can go through right away. There is no waiting.
Fun Fact: Oddly enough, the “About” section in the profile isn’t currently being used at all, if it is used for ranking we don’t know. You can see it on your dashboard, but it does not show up in any customer-facing capacity whatsoever.
8. GLS “Job Types” Aren’t Descriptive
The company who signed up is an electrician. One thing they mentioned they didn’t like was the vague “Job Types” Google provides. They aren’t very specific.
An example is “Install Ground Wire”, the electrician explained there is a difference between low-volt and high-volt ground wire and the price differences are substantial. Home Advisor on the other hand, does allow you to get more specific.
Another example is for ceiling fans, in Google there are only two job types.
In Home Advisor there are 6: ceiling fan installs & exhaust fans aren’t very profitable.
Something like “attic or whole-house” install being on the high-end of that.
9. Google Local Service Ads Team Can Help With Adwords
10 people are answering calls for live customers in Local Service Ads. New people are being added to this team at the moment. There aren’t many calls per day. Since the team was first trained in Adwords and then brought over they can help you if you have Adwords questions as well.
10. Google is Timing the Calls
Whether you’re charged is directly tied to the lead call time. If calls are under a certain amount of time, you won’t get charged. If they are over a certain time… you will be charged.
The Google representative who told me this wouldn’t tell me the exact number: “It’s internal information.” However he did lend some sage advice–if you get people asking questions, you may want to try to set up a time to talk.
Also, since you can dispute leads in the dashboard. Question-askers will get you charged and you won’t be able to dispute them. My guess is since the rep. said this this is the most common form of disputed leads from business owners.
Shameless Plug: That’s all we have, if anyone is interested in getting this set up for their business we can definitely help (You know… for money).
Questions are free though! Call us anytime.
One last note, we are tracking to see how much money we make off of this vs. what we invest. There will be a sequel post once we gather enough information.