Google Ads vs. Google Local Service Ads: We Say, Why Not Both?

Growing your business is a lot easier with effective advertising. When you have a limited budget, however, it can be difficult deciding where you’ll see the best ROI for your marketing spend. Both Google Ads and Google Local Service Ads (LSA) offer effective, affordable advertising, but which one is best? While it always depends on your goals, smaller, local businesses actually see the best results by combining the two. Here we look at Google Ads versus Google Local Service Ads and explain why we say why not both?

What are Google Ads?

Google Ads is a platform that produces paid advertisements linked to specific keywords. When someone enters a query, Google ranks the organic results using keywords and other relevant criteria and, at the same time, runs a paid search. Those results are ranked on the highest advertiser bid for the keyword along with other paid ranking criteria such as location and query context.

Pros & Cons of Google Ads

Although Google Ads are just as competitive as organic searches, they do increase the odds of appearing in a more visible position above the organic search results. The ads appear with your company name, catchy heading, and related information below, providing an opportunity for users to see and click your website link first.  Here are the pros and cons:

Pros of Google Ads

  • Meet user needs: You can customize your ad copy to align with user intent and send visitors to a landing page highlighting that product or service.
  • Budget-friendly: You can set your ad budget based on your preferred keywords to promote specific products or services.
  • Data: You have access to free tools offering insightful data based on campaign results to help you improve your ads and increase conversions/leads.

Cons of Google Ads

  • It takes skill: There are a lot of ins and outs to learn before you can really finesse your ads, keyword strategy, and bidding to see the best results. This can prove to be a pretty costly learning curve.
  • Bidding: Because ranking is heavily reliant on bids, if your budget isn’t competitive, you’ll need a strong, highly insightful keyword/bidding strategy to see the desired results.  

What are Local Services Ads?

Another Google advertising platform, Local Services Ads or LSA allows you to narrow down your audience to local searches, so you have a higher chance of ranking for your keywords. Also, you get an even better position in the SERPs, as LSAs Ads appear above Google Ads because Google views them as more relevant. Instead of bidding on keywords, Google provides a checklist of industries and services advertisers select to help rank local businesses along with the following information:

  • Operating hours
  • Proximity to the searcher’s location
  • Review score and number of reviews
  • Responsiveness to customer questions, comments, and requests

Your ad appears in a directory with your company name, address, website and phone number, and your location pinned on a Google map.

Pros & Cons of Local Services Ads

In the local search results, three companies appear on a desktop and two on a mobile device, with a clickable arrow people use to see all listings. Here are the pros and cons of LSA:

Pros of Local Service Ads

  • Top ranking: In the Google search hierarchy, local ads appear at the top.
  • Leads vs click fees: LSAs are not based on pay-per-click (PPC) and bidding but instead a pay-per-lead (PPL) model based on industry. This can save you money as you only pay for qualified leads.  
  • Lead dispute option: If you receive unqualified leads, you can dispute the lead to receive a refund based on Google’s list of dispute categories.
  • User-friendly: This is as near to a set-it-and-forget approach to ads as you’ll ever get.
  • Google Guarantee: Once you complete the Google screening process, you earn the Google Guarantee badge to build trust.  
  • Reviews: Because reviews help increase ranking, you can draw attention to your high ratings and positive reviews.

Cons of Google Local Services Ads

  • Ranking: Although you don’t have to compete for keywords, Google bases LSA rankings on Google reviews and location. So although it is user-friendly, it takes effort to build positive reviews and increase your ranking. It’s one of those circular kinds of situations where you need to rank to get customers to provide reviews, but you can’t rank until you have those reviews. More on this below.
  • Poor quality leads: LSA’s easy automation can also have a negative impact on your ads, as you can’t get specific enough to attract the right kind of customer. This can result in lower-quality leads.
  • Time-consuming screening process: Because Google is always focused on exceptional user experience, they apply their strict ranking policy to advertisers, just in a different way. They use an extensive screening process that includes a background and relevant license check that can delay your ads. Just remember that the coveted badge is the result.

What are the Main Differences Between Google Ads & Local Services Ads?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

  • Payment: Google Ads uses PPC and keyword bidding to determine the cost for ads, while Local Service Ads uses industry-based PPL, and you only pay for valid leads.
  • Keywords: Google Ads depends on keyword research and bidding, while keywords are not required for Local Service Ads.  
  • Ad Creation: You don’t have to create an actual ad for LSAs, while you do for Google Ads.
  • Ad Availability: Not all locations or industries can use Local Service Ads, while Google Ads are not limited by industry or location.
  • Conversions: Most local searches take place at the moment someone needs a particular product or service. This makes leads far more likely to convert.
  • Target: LSAs reduce competition to reach a target in your specific market, while Google ads can reach a broader audience that is not geo-specific.
  • Ranking: Local Service Ads appear above Google Ads, while Google Ads rank above organic search results.
  • Google Maps: LSAs show your company location on a Google map.

So, which is better? Both. You use Google Ads to generate leads, gain more customers and build Google reviews. Then use your reviews to achieve a higher ranking so you can target a local audience with Local Service Ads.

As business owners, it’s important to know all the options available to you when it comes to advertising. There are multiple ways to achieve success with digital ads. With the right marketing partner, your ads can start converting leads like never before! If you need a little help with this, we’re happy to chat.