A Trend We’re Watching With Google’s Local Services Ads

Happy New Year! It’s nice to have both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Fridays this year. We need a long weekend now and then … especially after the year we just went through!

In the business of search engine optimization, however, we’ve learned not to take our hands off the steering wheel for too long. Things change quickly, especially with a whale like Google dominating SEO from one end to the other. This is a critical part of your 2021 marketing strategy, as we discussed last week. So here’s a little about the top trend we’re watching: Google’s Local Services Ads.

I’d argue, in the age of COVID-19 and beyond, every business has a need for SEO services. The questions that follow stem from your business’ uniqueness, scarcity, niche and “client demand.” The more competitors you have, the wider your niche and the greater your capacity to serve increasing numbers of customers … the more pay-per-click advertising and SEO marketing tend to make sense.

Your business’ geographic footprint can also muddy things, if you’re not careful. Plenty of in-home service contractors could easily relate to the frustration of a ton of website traffic from the mainland. To counteract this, Google traditionally offered “Google My Business” listings.

You’ve probably searched for “xyz business near me,” and had a pop-up on your phone that says, “Google would like to use your location.” It’s their way of obtaining permission to funnel your interest to the nearest businesses that offer what you’re looking for, especially if you search for them by name. The highest-ranked providers usually win the large listing space you see on the right hand side in the image above.

In 2020, Google decided to improve this by rolling out “Local Services Ads,” which will intermingle with the PPC advertising you see on the left hand side of the image. They tested it with attorneys’ offices this past year. That’s a great example of an industry where competition is plentiful and fierce, over-specializing can be risky and there’s more than enough case work available for any firm to scale.

From a digital marketing agency perspective, we were curious how this new service would clash with the traditional “Google My Business” method. Would it end up “stealing” clicks you’d otherwise get, if nothing changed? This could cause some local businesses to hesitate, especially if they already had high rankings.

If you’re feeling a slight hesitation of your own while reading this, we’d love to share more of our perspective and see if we can help with your marketing strategy. Give us a call.

Why You Should Consider Local Services Ads 

Results arrive in real time these days. Your business might be doing just fine, but without brand awareness to your local community, you could be leaving money on the table. Take a look at how holiday shopping changed in 2020, or use this guide to local SEO we created.

Beyond that, Google has become such a reliable information source to the public that they’re including a “Google Guarantee” to assure people of the legitimacy of the business. In the same way owners once sought the blessing of the Better Business Bureau or ranking by industry standard publications (think Motor Trend “Truck of the Year”) … Google now offers a guarantee.

Indirectly, this is likely to enhance your company’s reputation management. It could also become something of a selling point. If social proof is one of the best ways to advertise your business, you’ll know soon enough whether Google’s nod of approval counts for something.

All that … and of course, you don’t pay if it doesn’t work! Remember, Local Services Ads are another form of PPC, which means the budget isn’t a factor until your ads begin to convert. If people click, you pay; if they don’t, your brand awareness grows.

I don’t want to oversimplify it, though. You can create an ad that converts … but which ends up unprofitable. We don’t recommend doing this without the help of an experienced PPC agency. Call our office if you’d like to take a closer look.

The Trend To Watch With Local Service Ads

After reading this, you might have a really good reason to call your attorney, that has nothing to do with suing people! Google made this service available to the legal industry in September, and enjoyed a huge wave of law firms signing up.

But among firms enjoying top search rankings in their local market, we kept a sharp eye for any steep decline in how people traditionally searched for them. We were relieved to discover, according to this article, that the monthly reduction in “Google My Business” clicks could be counted, on average, on one hand.

Though it’s still early to say whether that number will gather steam or mass over time, one thing is clear: the Local Services Ads performed.

What does this mean for your SEO strategy? Well, in short … we can’t find a reason not to consider Local Services Ads, especially if you’re in a crowded market. If you’re ranking well with the traditional model, you don’t have much to lose by investing in them. If you’re struggling to be seen or heard on Page One, it’s even more compelling.

Wherever you land on that spectrum, you’re going to need help. To get started on a winning marketing strategy for 2021, give us a call.

 

 

Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash

 

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