What is GLS?

According to Google, “Local Services ads help you connect with people who search on Google for the services you offer. Your ads will show up for customers in your area, so you can keep your calendar full.” Google Local Service (GLS, sometimes referred to as LSA) ads are a relatively new addition to the Google marketing environment that allow service providers to easily advertise against relevant searches without having to perform keyword research, write ads, or conduct extensive experimentation; in other words, the more complex and time-consuming tasks a search professional typically has to undertake to make sure campaigns perform well. As such, they are changing the way many companies advertise and grow their businesses.

Essentially, Google Local Service ads are a new, stand-alone version of Google Ads. By creating an account you are able to choose the service industry your business resides within and select the types of leads you want to receive. After creating your account your ads will enter the GLS auction alongside other service companies in your space where you will compete for attention. A lot of company information is required in order to be eligible for GLS including insurance information, licensing information, and background checks on a business owner and the business entity. The registration process will often take 30-60 days depending on your urgency to become registered.

Google is attempting to build a market that benefits both consumers and service providers. It is assumed that searchers will feel “safer” clicking on these ads because the businesses are pre-vetted by Google. For services, GLS comes with the “Google Guarantee” for these leads. They are of good quality and someone actually needing a service rather than simply browsing the website.

The main questions that arise from evaluating whether Google Local Service ads could work for you are 1) Does my industry have access to GLS ads? 2) How do GLS ads and Google Ads integrate? 3) What’s the future of GLS look like/how will this change my advertising strategy moving forward? – let’s take a look at these, and other aspects of GLS.

GLS Tips For Success

There is strong competition to show as one of the top GLS results. Spending your budget and scaling the quantity of GLS leads can be difficult. Gruen, as a high-performing Google partner agency, has a Local Services Ads rep and we have learned a LOT from this partnership that we can share.

The 3 main tips for success we’ve observed working with companies that are successful with GLS are:

  1. Begin GLS advertising early on before your competitors and consistently collect positive reviews.
  2. Keep the GLS dashboard up to date by consistently marking leads as valid or invalid. Google wants to know if you’re closing the leads they send you.
  3. Run GLS ads consistently every week for the majority of each day. Being available and reliable is key.

Begin Early & Get Reviews

By getting in early when GLS becomes available for your industry, your business will be in a better position against competitors – much of your positioning/success comes from historical performance with the leads that you generate. By beginning advertising in GLS as soon as possible & delivering high quality service to your GLS leads while turning these customers into rave reviews you’ll gain a clear leg up on your competition.

Keep Your Dashboard Up To Date

In GLS the goal is to generate leads, and our clients have seen tremendous success by constantly managing their Leads dashboard. We have reason to believe that this is a major optimization opportunity for many service providers. Quickly marking leads as “Booked”, “Completed” or “Archived” shows Google that you are responsive to leads coming from GLS. Once they see that you are responsive and fulfilling the leads they provide to you, they start to prioritize you in the search results. Google has never confirmed this but it has been a consistent theme for our GLS accounts. 

Running GLS Ads Consistently

This is tied to the other two tenets of great GLS performance but deserves to be highlighted in its own space. By having your GLS ads run every day, every week, and allowing enough budget for consistent delivery, we have seen evidence that this improves performance and can have an impact on placement and cost per lead. In other words, set up that GLS account and get used to keeping it running!

How GLS & Google Ads Integrate

Prior to GLS, three or four paid search ads would show above organic results. Post GLS, Google reduced this down to two paid search ads in the majority of cases. GLS begins to occupy the space where the first and second paid search ads were historically positioned, while the third and fourth paid search ads are often pushed to the bottom of the page below organic results. For advertisers relying on paid search, this forces them to bid more aggressively so they can consistently show in the first or second paid search ad position. Average cost-per-click tends to increase.

As noted above, GLS ads are consistently at the top of the page in a search result. In the example image below, GLS results on mobile occupy nearly 100% of the search result above the fold. The top of the first paid search ad barely shows. When GLS is launched for an industry, the top position for paid search shift to below the fold on mobile while your cost-per-click remains the same.

You’ll notice from the way we describe GLS that there are significant differences from how Google Ads works, so how should you best use them together? Through experimentation with budget across Google Ads and GLS & optimizing Google Ads towards a joint CPL with GLS, we can drive the best performance with the combined budget. By thinking of the two channels as independent in strategy and execution, but tied to each other as part of an overall strategy, your business can continue to prosper. Gruen works closely with our partners to ensure we maximize efficiency across both platforms.

GLS Case Studies

Let’s take a look at some examples. Below are two examples of clients who adopted GLS early on. Both companies are in comparable, competitive markets. 

Company 1:

Began GLS advertising early on. Kept their GLS dashboard up to date daily, marking leads as valid or invalid. Runs GLS consistently throughout the week and rarely pauses ads.

Reporting a 12+ ROI on GLS efforts YTD. Spending over $10k/mo at a $25 cost per acquisition. They’re beginning to shift significant dollars away from non-brand paid search and to GLS.

Company 2:

Began GLS advertising early on. Occasionally updated their GLS dashboard, providing little feedback to Google on the program’s effectiveness. Ran an inconsistent ad schedule throughout the week and limited the weekly budget.

Reporting poor quantity and quality of GLS leads YTD. Still relies on paid search for 30-35% of their daily lead volume. Their paid search lead volume and return is declining due to an increase in cost to acquire a lead. .

These are just two examples, but they serve as an illustration of the guidelines outlined above in this article – Google is making a list (of GLS advertisers) and checking it twice (for consistent execution and lead history).

GLS & New Service Areas

Google Local Services (GLS) ads were launched in the pest control industry roughly a year ago in select cities. GLS was launched nationwide for the pest control industry in late April 2019. Based on what we have seen in industries like plumbing, pest control businesses can expect their Google Ads costs to start increasing and see their ads displaced by the early entrants into GLS in their markets. Pest control is just one of the latest examples of a group of businesses having their advertising turned upside down by Google. When Google opens up GLS to your industry/market, be sure to take advantage but make sure you have a sound strategy in place with the resources to properly execute.