The Sharpest Tool™

Google's New Product: Local Services Ads

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
As the Director of Marketing, Holleigh Taufer works with her marketing manager staff who are taking care of Scorpion's clients. She gives advice, offers a fresh perspective, and helps the managers think in futures for the client. She also works closely with Google to help Scorpion clients set up Local Services ads. Previously called home service ads, Local Services ads are a new paid service Google is rolling out.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello and welcome to the scorpion podcast. My name is Josh, and this is where we take the sting out of marketing. I have Holly Topher in the booth and she's just cracking up at me right now. And Holly, it's so good to have you here. Welcome to the scorpion podcast. She's excited as everybody can tell, uh, Holly is the director of marketing here over at scorpion, and I'm just really amped to have you in the booth. I know she is a busy bee buzzing around here at the office. Um, so Holly, I want to give our viewers a little bit of an insight into you. What, what is it you do as a director of marketing?

Holleigh Taufer (00:40):

What I typically do on a day to day basis is work with the different marketing managers who are servicing, you know, taking care of our clients. And so having being that extra eye on them and, you know, giving advice on what we should do in the next round, or, you know, where we want to take that campaign. And, and I'm really looking, you know, helping the marketing manager, thinking futures for the client as well. Cause that's a big deal, you know, you're, immeshed in a day to day managing those campaigns, where do you want to take them? Where did they, the client themselves want to go? So really working to do that as well as you know, I have that my side hustle dealing with local service ads,

Josh Smith (01:20):

Local service ads. Yeah. So that's actually, I'm glad you transitioned beautifully. I don't have to do it that local service ads LSAs as I've come to be known, used to be HSA, if I'm not

Holleigh Taufer (01:33):

Yeah. Home service ads and they changed the name to local service ads that, that kind of portended something down the line that they're going to get out of just home services and into other markets. So be prepared. I mean, they've already started out with like pet care and tutoring and things that you could maybe think are home service-y, but they're not.

Josh Smith (01:54):

Yeah. So that's exactly what I want to talk about today. Cause I know it's so prevalent and it's on the cusp. It's been around for a little over a year intensely and it's definitely doesn't seem like it's going away. So, um, for our audience who hasn't heard about local service ads, maybe you can give them a quick broad overview of what they are, how they came about and what the real purpose behind them is.

Holleigh Taufer (02:17):

Great. So I've been dealing with Google directly for many months now and we're, you know, over a year directly on this and really trying to pick their brain on like what's the thought process here so quickly LSAs is a new, um, paid lead service that Google is rolling out and it's, you know, you could kind of take a look at it as a competition to Angie's or home advisor or any of those types of services that are directory based where you pay a flat amount for a lead that's what Google is doing versus what they call Google ads that are, you know, based on specific clicks, not necessarily calls. So these are physical calls coming into the business. You're paying now, what's the difference between Google ads and Google LSAs they have a different platform, a different view. You can't, you know, there's just a phone number and some reviews like they've taken the key points of a business that most people look at when deciding on whether they're going to call somebody and that's the reviews and some quick selling points, are they guaranteed that sort of thing.

Holleigh Taufer (03:26):

Now Google has taken this a step further. And again, I've been picking their brains on what what's behind all of this, and they're really cracking down on businesses that aren't legit. They want to help the consumer make sure that the consumer, when they're using Google and using those things, that they're getting a business, that's actually going to help them and not rip them off. So because of this, they've added some, you can't just sign up and pay and you're in there who knows what kind of business you are. They actually are background checking these employees, their background, checking the business, their background, checking the business owner. So everybody involved in this business is getting checked and they're taking it another step based off of that going, Hey, consumer, you know, searcher, whoever's using this platform, we're going to Google. If this business doesn't do a good job, we're going to give you up to $2,000 to get it done. Right. Holy

Josh Smith (04:28):

Cow. $2,000

Holleigh Taufer (04:30):

Google guarantee, baby. Yeah,

Josh Smith (04:31):

That's insane. That's incredible. And so, and why are these so important to businesses today? I mean, paid search has been out there for years now and w we, when that came out after it was just organic results, paid search seem to be the way to go. Why is it so vital for businesses, uh, where these local service ads, um, are in their area and in their industry? Why is it so important that they get involved with that?

Holleigh Taufer (04:58):

Well, number one reason in my book is lead cost is super low, anywhere from 20 to $30 for given me. And if you're a plumber, you're HVAC guy you've been used to paying considerably more in Google ads, you know, ad-words traditional AdWords. So those $30 leads are incredibly cost-effective and they're really good leads.

Josh Smith (05:25):

Yeah, absolutely. Is there any kind of limit as to how many of those people can get in given markets?

Holleigh Taufer (05:32):

You know, that is, we're learning more and more as the markets roll out, as people are using that platform. And it's definitely a new platform. It is different than Google ads in that you can't pay to have a higher position. You cannot pay to show up in zones that are not necessarily where the physical location is. It's, it's heavily reliant on proximity to the searcher and your business, your physical location. Yeah. So in terms of quantity and whatnot, that is harder to predict. And, you know, I think that goes along the lines of, you know, at the end of the day, Google is a business, it's a for-profit business. They don't want to get out of the Google ad words, Google ads business. So you're still going to need to do that alongside of this paper play. But I definitely think they were, you know, more focused on achieving a different result, taking out and she's in home advisors a little bit and doing that. So

Josh Smith (06:36):

The, the biggest difference between running these aside from the lead cost, is there, is there any other additional benefit between running these versus running traditional

Holleigh Taufer (06:44):

Benefit wise? I mean, besides costs, I, you know, I have to say there really isn't, I think you need both, you cannot just do ad words anymore and you know, particularly fellow Caesar in your market and you cannot just live on local service. We've tried it, we've piloted with a couple of clients and the predictability of leads is just not there because you know, the buy-in in that platform or whatever consumers aren't you seeing it all the time. It they're kind of still testing and it's in beta. So I would say you, the advantage is you, there is no advantage. You need to do both. Like if you're you want business today in this day and age digitally, you have to do both of those.

Josh Smith (07:30):

No, I know a lot of our listeners are kind of chomping at the bit here. Um, how do you sign up for that? I mean, how do you get involved with it?

Holleigh Taufer (07:37):

Yeah, well, we've been helping our clients. It is, there is steps. There's processes involved here. They have to get the background check. So this is the process that takes the longest for me, Holly, start on that right away. It takes two to three weeks and longer. If you don't control this process and in, and if you have a lot of employees, I'm telling you have them do it all in one day, all from a computer, all in the office, like for a general meeting, the background checks, background checks, they submit that it's all free. By the way, to the business, the business is not paying for these background checks. Google is paying Pinkerton, the company that's doing it. So those have to get started right away. Then there's an application process and, you know, for a scorpion client, we're going to totally do that for you. We just need some pieces of information from you and otherwise we'll take care of that heavy lifting, but background checks are definitely on the business. It's a legal thing. So we cannot do it for the client.

Josh Smith (08:36):

Definitely. Is it now you mentioned scorpion old take care of the application process. You know, a lot of our plumbers and HVAC, uh, you know, guys listening are kind of out in the field and stuff. So that might be pretty desirable. What, what are the benefits of having a, uh, a business like scorpion handle or your marketing company handle that what's the benefit

Holleigh Taufer (08:56):

There? Well, biggest benefit is it takes that, that extra. You have to just supply some information, but we're going to thought this four-page form for you. And the other side of that is then from that side, we're working with our Google rep directly on your behalf as well. And because we do this day in and day out, you're under a sink or you're, you know, you're, um, handling some venting and some HVAC stuff, right? It's a different thing we're living this day in and day out. So we can be on top of it. We can, um, follow the process through more. Again, there is, you know, that background check, I cannot stress it enough. The more you control that process and do that right, the faster we can get y'all through.

Josh Smith (09:41):

And, you know, I E the, the local service ads that, that keyword in their local, um, how important is it to the local service ads? More importantly, kind of pull it a little bit broader. How important is this local aspect to businesses in general in today's day and age?

Holleigh Taufer (09:58):

Well, I mean, we've been seeing this shift with Google for the last three or four years. Honestly, they're going very hyper local businesses, and you might, you know, we get questions all the time. Well, how does the national business do it? It's a different, that is a whole different way of doing business. But Google right now is focused heavily on local businesses, because let's just say 34 times more people are searching for businesses near me adding the near me 34 times more than they were two years ago. So we know that everybody wants somebody now. They want them local. They want them close. So local service ads are no different in that realm at all. And proximity to the searcher is extremely important in showing up in the top three of those local.

Josh Smith (10:53):

Yeah, I noticed on my phone too, I've noticed it for a couple months. Probably. I would venture to say a couple of years now that when I punch a search into Google, it asks me if it wants to use my current location. Is that part of that local, like desire to change.

Holleigh Taufer (11:09):

Absolutely. You know, big brother's watching, they know exactly where you are. You tell them where you are with your phone and it triangulates, you know, I'm sure there's some science behind it, but it's going to pinpoint that IP address and your physical location. And it's going to tell you, so home service ads are similar in that nature, too. Even if you are, let's say work and you know, you have a plumbing problem, you're going to search for plumber, but you're probably going to add in the city that you want. So I'm up here in Valencia, but I live in the great city of Sherman Oaks go valley. And I might up here, you know, do a search for plumber, but I'm going to say Sherman Oaks plumber, because I don't necessarily want to send a Clarita plumber.

Josh Smith (11:53):

Yeah, absolutely. Uh, the w when it comes to what to expect with the process of getting involved in the local service ads, um, I know you mentioned a couple of weeks. What types of hangups might somebody see, um, when it comes to getting involved, what should they PR what should the client PR pair that or a business prepare themselves for when it comes to, uh, going through this process of signing up and getting things running?

Holleigh Taufer (12:19):

So great question. Thanks, Josh. The process is going to take at least four weeks to get approved. And this is if you are really, really good about getting your background checks in quickly and efficiently, otherwise that is really what delays the process the most. So application-wise, that's super fast. That happens within a day. You get the application and the background checks Pinkerton will not start them until all background checks that they're expecting to get from you are actually ends. So if you say, Hey, there's one business owner and 10 employees who are going to homes, which is what we have to put on the application. We have to submit that with the application, then Pinkerton's going to be expecting 11 background checks. Biggest thing we run into is people not submitting background checks quickly and efficiently. And they're kind of straggling in over the, over the weeks.

Holleigh Taufer (13:18):

So nothing actually starts and tell all 11 of those background checks are in the other things. We see our employees doing it from their cell phone. Those often don't go through. So doing it from a desktop is, is vital. And then the other thing too, is not having consistency, like having different business names. So not telling the employee, you must submit under, you know, Mr. Plumber incorporated. Somebody puts in types in M I S T R plumber incorporated. Some people just put MP incorporated, you know, and because of that, Google Pinkerton, both of those businesses have a very difficult time connecting up those background checks. So if, if we're going to learn three things from this it's consistency, it's doing it all at one time. And then making sure that you're partnering with a good business, like scorpion who can help navigate this and, and work with Google and Pinkerton to get you through.

Josh Smith (14:25):

And then that can be pretty tricky. When if you have a little bit of a delay in terms of getting those in, and then maybe you lose a tech or something like that, or you lose employees, you're gaining employees. How do, how do businesses go about making those adjustments?

Holleigh Taufer (14:37):

So recommendation wise is if you hire a new tech during your background check process, while you're trying to get into LSAs, it's just leave them off the background check process to start with and get your approval, get through the approval process. You can then add anybody afterwards. Okay. Now caveat on this is it's very important. Do not send those texts out on LSA jobs though. So you're approved and they have yet to submit their background checks. Don't let them go out on those types of jobs because you just, if something were to go wrong, you know what I mean? You're putting your, you and your business in a bit of a pickle because of that. So it is vital that only those people who did get background checks actually do those.

Josh Smith (15:24):

Got it. And now, now on the search results page, I've seen these local service ads pop up when I'm searching for a plumber for my house. And, uh, and there's only three spots up there. And then it looks like you can click and it expands into like a broader list of people, but how do you get in those three spots? What's, what's Google looking at

Holleigh Taufer (15:46):

Google is looking at three things, um, proximity to the searcher, number one thing. So they're going to, where's your IP address? And they're matching that. If, if you, as a searcher put in a city specifically, it's going to try to figure out, uh, what's closest to where they're physically detecting you are and that city. So if I type in local, if I type in, uh, Los Angeles plumber up in Santa Clarita, they're going to give me whatever they think is closest to me or what maybe the city center of Los Angeles. Right. But if I'm physically in 9 0 2, 1, oh, I'll probably get a different result if I just typed in plumber. So proximity is super important. We talked about that. Google's very, hyper-local, it's where we're all going these days, the next thing would be responsiveness. And this means like not, you know, if somebody calls you and they leave a message and you don't call back, or you're not taking care of these leads, Google is going to know this and they're going to penalize you.

Holleigh Taufer (16:54):

And then the third is all about your reviews and where, you know, what people are saying about you. So if you are going out and doing a job and not doing a good job, and people are telling Google and telling the world, then your reviews are going to suffer and you're going to be bumped down that list more so always, you know, as I think it's goes without saying, but as a business owner, as having owning a business, take care of those people, make sure you're delivering what you're telling them that you're going to deliver show up on time and give them a good price. You know, this is, this is the world we live in these days.

Josh Smith (17:33):

Yeah. Providing an excellent experience seems when it all kind of boils to the top with, um, you know, I know the topic of reputation kind of comes into play here a little bit. Um, some of the businesses probably have been building reputation on their Google page for years, you know, from recommendations from marketing companies and things like that. Um, being that this is a Google product. Do, does that reputation transfer over or are they starting from scratch? How did the reviews

Holleigh Taufer (18:02):

Great question. So Google, initially, when you get into the platform for, for local service ads, you, they're going to pull the reviews that you have on your Google, my business page, the what we in the industry like to call the GMB. So in that page, you have reviews and people have been leaving reviews there or not. For years, you typically have to log into your Google account to leave a review for a business there. So they're going to pull that initially, it's going to show up near 4.8 stars or whatever you've got. And then throughout the process, there is a review link, um, that we provide our clients that they can then give to people who do, um, or people who've found them specifically on LSAs. We given this link, they can send that to the client. The client can, their customer can then go in.

Holleigh Taufer (18:52):

They don't have to log in. This is the benefit with local service ads is let's say, I don't have a Google, whatever. I can just click on that link. I don't have to log into it. I can just leave a review for that business right there, and then associated with their local service ads. You want to get more and more of those Google, or it's going to take those into account more and more. Now, keep in mind though, those don't translate to your Google, my business. They're very separate platforms. So any local service re add reviews, those reviews are going to stay within the local service area. And then you'll have your Google, my business with those. So you still want to be getting reviews in both areas. Don't assume if you're just getting local service ads, reviews that they're going to your GMB. They're not going to do that.

Josh Smith (19:39):

Got it. So in regards to, if this is in a business's area currently, um, is there a place people can go to see when it's going to be in their area or do they have to work with marketing companies that are partnered with Google in order to see what's up and coming on the Ross

Holleigh Taufer (19:58):

Currently, that's the only place to do that is, you know, partnerships. We are privy to what's rolling out when doing all of that. Now I have seen when Google is rolling out a new market, they tend to start soliciting businesses individually a few months before the rollout. So that might happen as well. But in terms of partnerships, like, I know what's coming, you know, in three or four months, at least with what Google knows, because that doesn't always, they don't always know that either. And things change all the time, particular, local service ads they'll find out, they'll, they'll be thinking they're going to roll out a market. They go to potentially start that market. They find some things we don't even know what those are half the time, but then it becomes, Hey, we're not going to roll that one out just yet. So that has happened quite a bit with this. Again, I cannot stress enough. This is still a beta. They're still working this out. This is not finalized and perfect. And everything's all rainbows and unicorns.

Josh Smith (21:05):

Don't put all your eggs and just this basket. Um, and with respect to change, I just had one last thought, are we seeing much change in the process, um, for LSAs over the course of months, quarters years for the past year and a half, is, has that process changed much or has it stayed pretty consistent?

Holleigh Taufer (21:26):

No, it's changed quite a bit. In fact, initially when we first started doing applications that were just doing background checks later on, I would say about two and a half months ago, maybe three months ago, they decided, um, Google decided that they were going to be checking individual licenses as well for, for workers, for the business owners. Now, in some states, you know, a lot of times the employee can work under the business owners, contractors, license, or a plumber's license and all of that. Google's figuring that out as they're going along. But in the meantime, they're going to be checking, you know, employee licenses as well. So

Josh Smith (22:03):

Awesome. Well, Holly, this has been really, really valuable, really informational. I really appreciate you taking the time to

Holleigh Taufer (22:09):

Anytime I let you know how I love local service ads,

Josh Smith (22:14):

You do. And that's one of the things that I think stings our clients more than ever right now. So you know, was taking the sting out of the marketing here at the square of your podcast for everybody listening, hope you found this valuable. I definitely hit the subscribe button wherever you are listening at. And from all of us here at the scorpion podcast, my name is Josh. We'll catch you next time. Thanks.

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