BONUS: Guide to Google Local Services (Lead Ads)

Everything we’ve showed you up to this point has been free. Sure, it will cost you some time, but as you put in that time, you should find that your business looks better and better to Google, and that subsequently you get more and more people who find your business without your paying Google a penny.

Google Local Services Ads is not free. You are paying Google. But unlike Google search, where you typically pay for each click to your website or profile, whether they contact you or not, with Google Local Service Ads, you are paying only for qualified leads.

This is a new and unique program, and it isn’t available everywhere or to every type of business (see list). We’ll walk you through the setup and how it works. As a general rule, we think it is worth trying if you are trying to grow your business, but it’s so new that it’s probably going to work a little different for each business.

What are Local Services Ads

Google Local Service Ads look a lot like the listings you see for local searches. Once you get started, your ranking – whether you show up – will be based on a number of factors that you can control! Make sure you keep these in mind as you choose to get started.

The more responsive you are and the better you take care of customers, the better you’ll rank.

Ranking Factors: 

  • 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 Google has received serious or repeated complaints about your business
What Google Local Services Ads Look Like

You do not pay for showing up here, only when a user calls you or messages you.

There are two “badges” you can have.

  • Google Screened: Once you sign up, Google will verify that you have sufficient licenses and insurance to practice your business. Once they confirm that process, they’ll add the “Screened” badge to you.
  • Google Guaranteed: This is another step further. If you are “Guaranteed,” then Google may reimburse the customer for the amount paid for the initial service if they are not satisfied, up to around $2,000. It’s a customer benefit to encourage users to use Guaranteed businesses.

The guaranteed badge looks a little cooler, but they look pretty similar.

Google Guaranteed vs Screened

During the setup process you’ll be asked to provide a budget. The cost of the leads varies wildly depending on the industry you are in. The difference in cost between carpet cleaning and bankruptcy leads is almost 10x!

You can estimate your cost per lead by going here and entering your industry and how many leads you want per month. You should do this now to make sure that your area and industry are eligible for the service.

Getting Started with Local Service Ads

Getting started is fairly simple, but we’ll show you what information may be required from you along the way so that you know what information you’ll need to have handy. As a general rule, if you have a license for your work, you’ll need to have that ready to complete the verification process. You also may be required to go through a background check as a part of the screening.

To get started go to this link. You’ll want to be logged into the same Google account you use for your Business Profile. Once you click to continue, the first thing you’ll be asked to do is to confirm your business’ eligibility for the program by entering your zip code and your industry.

Starting Your Profile

As you move forward you’ll have to start filling out your profile information. This is step one.

Your Headshot

The first thing you’ll be asked to do is to upload a headshot for your business. The minimum size for this photo is 640 x 640 pixels and the maximum size of the file is 10 megabytes. Make sure you use a nice photo as this is what your customers will see.

If you have more than one worker, you’ll have the opportunity to add them later. You can also choose to feature a different employee for the headshot later.

Headshot Upload Google Local Services

Your Business License

Next, if your line of business requires a license in your area, you’ll be required to provide your license information for validation. Occupational licensing varies a lot state to state so you may not see this or you may be required here to provide more documentation. This gives you a sense of what you will need though.

Provide License information Google Local Services

Background Checks

The next step here is background checks. Every customer facing employee will need one. Google uses a service Called Evident for their checks. Here are both screens you will see in the process. This may be a big step for you so we want to make sure you are aware of what you need.

You’ll click over into Evident’s website. Note that the first email you submit is the one that they’ll use for the status of all background checks.

Evident Background Check Google Local Services


Next, if your line of business requires a license in your area, you’ll be required to provide your license information for validation. Occupational licensing varies a lot state to state so you may not see this or you may be required here to provide more documentation. This gives you a sense of what you will need though.

Required Reviews for Google Local Services


You have to have at least one review to get started. If you already have reviews from your business profile then you won’t see this warning, but we wanted to show it to you in case you are just getting started out.

You also have a choice of your Local Services Ads review link here. Once nice benefit of using these Ads is that when customers connect with you, Google will automatically reach out for a review, so it’s easier to accumulate more reviews without having to do the work yourself.

Provide License information Google Local Services


When you get started, you’ll be setting a weekly budget and setting what Google calls a “bidding mode” to determine how you want to bid for leads.

They recommend that you go with the “Maximize Leads” option but you can also set a Max bid per lead. Again, this will depend on your industry and your area, but we’ve provided a short video of what could see here.

Note: Google shouldn’t go over your monthly max, and you can pause this program at any time if you are not happy with the leads you are getting. That is, if the leads aren’t converting, you can pause.

Video of How Budget and Bidding Works:

Billing Information

The last step here is to go through billing. It’s actually the next to last step as you have the opportunity to add more employees depending on what industry you are in, but many companies won’t need to do that.

You can either set up new billing here or, if you are already spending money with Google, you can use an existing payment profile to get started. It’s very straight forward so you shouldn’t have any issues.

Once you are done with billing, you’re all set! Google will verify your business information and then get you started. You’ll start getting calls and messages.

Inputting Billing Information Google Local Services

Performance Tips

  • This is a process. You rank better with more reviews, so you may start slow.

  • These reviews are valuable. Even if the leads are not super effective to start, as long as you are getting good reviews, it may make sense to keep going as an investment to get more business.

  • Remember these customers will be solicited for reviews, so take great care of them!

  • Play with different bidding strategies if you aren’t happy at first. If leads aren’t worth as much, try inputting a lower price per lead.

  • Respond as quickly as possible to leads – It’s very possible that customers contact multiple businesses at once. The faster you can respond the more likely you are to win the business. Otherwise you are paying for a lead you don’t use.

  • With that in mind, make sure the hours you put in are good for you. Pause when you are going to be away.

Is Your Industry Included?

Not every business is eligible for this program. Generally, it’s only available to local service businesses that are looking for leads or prospects for their services, and not for businesses that sell products – food, clothing, etc – directly.

Here is the current list of total industries. Not all industries are eligible in every area. Each will have its own licensing and verification procedures so have your credentials handy.

  • Appliance repair
  • Bankruptcy lawyer
  • Business lawyer
  • Carpenter
  • Carpet cleaning
  • Chiropractor
  • Contract lawyer
  • Countertop pro
  • Criminal lawyer
  • Disability lawyer
  • Dui lawyer
  • Electrician
  • Estate lawyer
  • Family lawyer
  • Fencing pro
  • Financial planner
  • Flooring pro
  • Foundation pro
  • Garage door pro
  • House cleaner
  • HVAC
  • Immigration lawyer
  • Ip lawyer
  • Junk removal
  • Labor lawyer
  • Landscaper
  • Lawn care
  • Litigation Lawyer
  • Locksmith
  • Malpractice lawyer
  • Mover
  • Personal injury lawyer
  • Pest control
  • Plumber
  • Real estate agent
  • Real estate lawyer
  • Roofer
  • Siding pro
  • Tax lawyer
  • Tax specialist
  • Traffic lawyer
  • Tree service
  • Water damage
  • Window cleaner
  • Window repair