Local Services Ads vs Google Ads: What Makes Sense for Small Businesses


The first step to successful business advertising and marketing is to understand your options. That doesn’t mean just knowing the different channels and types of marketing to choose from, either—you should actually understand what each is, what it offers, and whether it’s right for your small business. Some of you have probably used and paid for Google Ads campaigns, but Local Service Ads (LSAs) are still widely under-utilized. 

For small businesses, that may mean that a huge segment of your local audience isn’t being reached by your marketing. The first thing you need to do is to understand how LSAs are different than standard Google Ads, also called pay-per-click (PPC) ads. 

What are Google Ads?

Google PPC Ads have been around for a long time. These are ads that businesses can use to market their business at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). The concept is quite simple:

  • You sign up for a Google Ads account and choose the ad campaigns that you want to run. 
  • You select the duration and frequency, as well as other details that Google requires. 
  • Each time someone clicks on your ad, you pay a small fee, rather than paying a huge advertising bill upfront. 

Some PPC ads will display in other areas on the SERP, including the middle, bottom, and sides of the page. That’s one way that LSAs drive better results — they’re always at the top of the page. 

What are Local Service Ads?

LSAs are designed specifically to target local customers and build reputations for local businesses. You will select from certain services that you provide and then when those services are searched for, your ad may appear at the top of the search results. This depends on several factors, but usually Google considers things like:

  • Operating hours
  • Proximity
  • Reviews and review score
  • Responsiveness

For example, if you do plumbing in Oak Brook, IL and you have 24-hour services, your ad will likely show up for an Oak Brook user than a plumbing company based out of an Eastern suburb in Chicago. 

Local service ads also display business information, including hours of operation, phone number(s), location, and reviews. This helps users make a quick, easy choice about their local services, which is Google’s goal with this advertising method. 

Google Ads vs LSAs: What’s the difference?

There are some distinct differences between these two types of ads. Understanding those will enhance your ability to use both types of ads more effectively. Although there are several details and circumstantial variables, the main differences between Google Ads and Local Service Ads are:

  • LSAs allow you to pay per lead instead of per click. That means that if someone clicks and doesn’t convert, it doesn’t cost you. You’re only charged when someone actually contacts you through your ad. Google Ads are charged each time a link is clicked, whether someone converts or not. 
  • As mentioned, LSAs will always be at the top of search results. Google Ads may be at the top, but if you didn’t bid high enough, your ads may come up lower on the page or under the “more” tab that allows people to expand and see more ads. It’s essential to use LSAs for that guaranteed visibility. 
  • Local Service Ads get Google’s Seal of Approval, too. This badge gives users peace of mind and builds trust in your business immediately. When you have good reviews and a Google Guarantee Badge, your local leads are going to soar. 

Some other key differences between these two types of ads include:

  • Google Ads require keyword research, but Google does all the work with LSAs. 
  • Local Service Ads display specific information, which means you don’t have to come up with snappy, quality ad copy like you do for PPC ad campaigns. 
  • Right now, LSAs have limited offerings for industries and locations. The options are constantly growing, but you might have to wait to capitalize on these ads. 

The benefits of Local Service Ads

We’ve already covered a lot of information that should lead you to conclude that you need to add LSAs to your advertising strategy. However, just to make sure that we drive the point home, here are some benefits to keep in mind. If you implement LSAs correctly, you can enjoy:

  • Increased visibility of ads
  • Only being charged per lead, which saves money
  • Earning trust with Google’s backing
  • Benefiting from targeted searches
  • Standing out in Google Maps
  • Having positive reviews highlighted

And all you have to do is sign up with Google’s LSA program, set up your profile, and let the ads do the work. What’s not to love?

Balance is key 

Some people reading this are probably already thinking, “Well, let’s throw PPC out the window and do this instead.” That’s not the right answer. PPC is still effective, and it can continue to be a useful part of your marketing strategy. You need to add a strategy for Local Service Ads to your marketing plan. You may want to reduce your PPC efforts when you do this, and that’s fine. Just don’t eliminate them entirely. 

For those who don’t have access to Local Service Ads just yet, you can check in with Google regularly to see if there have been any changes. And in the meanwhile, you can use your tools and skills to create the best PPC campaigns so that you’re still getting top rankings with your ad efforts. 

More exposure means more leads

Are you ready for the incoming leads that your new ad efforts will generate? Your small business may have limited resources, but you’re not alone. Partner with the virtual receptionists at Smith.ai and you can get a 24/7 answering service with support for lead intake and appointment scheduling, plus so much more. 

We can even help with outreach campaigns to generate those leads in the first place. To learn more, schedule a consultation or reach out to hello@smith.ai

Business Education
Small Business
Written by Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing Manager with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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