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Everything you need to know. Local Service Specialist Stephen Thomas talks with Joe Burnich about this new ad program from Google:
JOE: What is the official name of this program? Local Service ads? Home Service ads?
GOOGLE: It started as Home services and rebranded into Local Service ads. The Google Guarantee is a benefit of being a part of the Local Services ads program. In order to receive the Google Guarantee you must pass a background check to confirm business licensing and insurance.
JOE: Will this affect SEO rankings at all?
GOOGLE: No, it is a paid service, however, a proper SEO campaign is a big factor in helping get you approved for this program.
JOE: Can I use Local Service ads in my current well established market (with a physical address) and also use it in a market where I do not currently have a physical address?
GOOGLE: As of now, yes because we are in a launch phase. However, as more and more people with actual physical addresses nearer to that market start to apply for this program, proximity will start to play a larger role.
JOE: Do I have to have a physical address verified by Google in order to run ads in an area?
GOOGLE: It is better to have a Google My Business account set up. If not, there are options to get you going with the Local Service ads. But again, having a physical location and reviews for your business is key to succeeding with Local Service ads. You will be forced out by established businesses. Google uses a process called “Business Entity Verification” done through Pinkerton (a background check company).
JOE: Address Location? Proximity? Reviews? How does Google decide who shows up in the coveted top left corner of the Local Services ads profile?
GOOGLE: Proximity plays a huge role in who will appear in that first spot at the top. However, because this is still a new program, it is not uncommon to see a business from outside of town appearing in the Local Service ads profile. As more and more companies apply for these positions, Proximity will start to displace some of those businesses that are further out.
JOE: I am not paying for leads and I’m in the Local Services profile. Will this last?
GOOGLE: No, these are “dummy profiles” set up without the Google Guarantee to test this new program before it eventually fills up with qualified professionals. The program is still in the launch phase, so now is the time to get in while spots are still available.
JOE: Should Google AdWords be used in combination with Local Service Ads?
GOOGLE: It depends on the type of traffic you are attempting to drive. But appearing multiple times on the first page of Google is never a bad thing for business. Imagine showing up in the Local Service ads section, AdWords section and in the 3-pack!
JOE: With Google legitimately reaching out to businesses, how do we differentiate between a scammer and an actual Google Employee?
GOOGLE: Google never “robo-calls”. Never an automated call, a live person from the start. Also, any Google employee will have a “@Google.com” email address. Ask them to send you an email right there when they are on the phone. Furthermore, Google has filed suit against any of those fraudulent companies that use their name. And if you come across these robo-calls in the future, please report that number on Google’s website.
JOE: What does the Google Guarantee mean?
GOOGLE: Signing up and passing the verification process. This is where they verify your business and administer the background check.
JOE: What kind of information in needed for the verification process?
- Proof on insurance (a copy of your declaration page).
- If plumbers or electricians, they need to provide license numbers.
- City/State licensing information
- Phone numbers
- Years in Business
- List ALL OF YOUR SERVICES that you provide (you can edit this at any time, if you add or remove a service as your business evolves)
JOE: Can we put ads out for multiple services?
GOOGLE: Yes, this is why it is important to list all of your services in your profile.
JOE: Is this the same as AdWords or Cost-per-Click?
GOOGLE: No, this is based on a Qualified Lead system. In order for the lead to be qualified, the lead must call for the specific service that is advertised. You can dispute leads through the dashboard, the calls are all recorded and reviewed by actual humans. No algorithms here!
JOE: Location (Proximity) is a huge factor in getting those precious top spots. What are other factors?
GOOGLE: Good honest Reviews are key to proving you are a quality company in these early stages of the Local Service ads program.
JOE: Does this system use Keywords?
GOOGLE: No, this uses the specific services you list, proximity and your reviews. Keywords are for SEO and AdWords.
JOE: Is there any scheduling help or calendar program inside of Local Service Ads?
GOOGLE: No. That is the business owner’s responsibility.
JOE: How much does this cost? What is the cost per lead? What factors determine this cost?
GOOGLE: The Lead Cost is a flat rate based off of different regions. For example, in Charlotte, NC right now, the price for a Carpet Cleaning lead is $21. That is the highest I have seen. For Window Cleaning, it is $12 and house cleaning $18. Although there are no guarantees on how long these prices will stay at this point.
JOE: How do we pay for these ads?
GOOGLE: It is a weekly budget, and at the end of the month, you will pay for any leads that were received. Make sure to dispute any leads before the end of the month, however there is a grace period for disputes. And yes, there is a refund period for unqualified leads.
JOE: Who in the company must pass the liability and background checks?
GOOGLE: Business owners and entities. There are more rigorous tests in place currently for Plumbers, Electrians and HVAC technicians.
JOE: Does Google track technicians at all with GPS?
JOE: How long does the verification process take?
GOOGLE: We try to complete it within a month. We aim to respond within 14 days.
JOE: When will this service be rolled out in my area?
GOOGLE: Hard to tell, but the more people that register in certain areas, the quicker the system will appear. Get set up now to make sure you will be verified when the
JOE: Does the Google Guarantee cover any damages to the end customer?
GOOGLE: Yes, up to $2,000. This is why the background check and verification process is so important.
JOE: How does Google know the customer clicked on the Local Service Ad? Is there a special tracking phone number?
GOOGLE: Yes, there is a tracking system in place to ensure that the lead originated from the Local Service ad. All calls are forwarded to your official business phone number.
JOE: If you are the first to participate, are you locked in? Or is there a rotating scheduled?
GOOGLE: No, first comers are not locked in to anything. But they will have more success during the launch phase. Moving forward Proximity /Location is key in who appears in the Local Service Ads results.