What's the Difference Between Google Ads and Local Services Ads?

March 19th, 2024, 09:00 AM

Google offers various tools, both free and paid, to help businesses promote their products and services online.

For local businesses, claiming and optimizing a Google Business Profile listing is the best free way to appear in more local search results and drive more local business. But when it comes to paid options that can help you appear to more potential customers on Google, two popular choices are Google Ads and Local Services Ads (LSAs)

While both these Google advertising platforms aim to connect businesses with potential customers, they have key differences in terms of functionality, targeting, and cost. Understanding these differences can help businesses make informed decisions about which platform to use to achieve their advertising goals.

Google Ads vs. Google LSAs

How Google Ads Works

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is an online advertising platform that allows businesses to create and display ads on Google's search results pages and across its network of partner websites. 

Google Ads offers various ad formats, including text ads, display ads, and video ads, allowing businesses to choose the format that best suits their advertising goals.

Advertisers then bid on keywords relevant to their products or services, and their ads are displayed to users who search for those keywords.

Google Ads have a wide range of payment structures to choose from. Many Google Ads are pay-per-click (PPC), meaning that businesses get charged whenever a user clicks on an ad. 

Some types of Google Ads, such as display ads, can also use a CPM model, which means advertisers pay per thousand impressions, or views, that their ad gets.

Ultimately, the exact payment structure comes down to the specific type of Google Ads campaign you're running.

How Google LSAs Work

Whereas Google Ads can work for any type of business, Google's Local Services Ads are specifically designed for service-based businesses that want to connect with customers in their local area. 

These ads appear at the top of Google search results when users search for local services such as plumbers, electricians, or auto mechanics, to give a few common examples. 

Unlike Google Ads, where advertisers bid on keywords, Local Services Ads are based on a pay-per-lead model, meaning businesses only pay when a potential customer contacts them directly through the ad.

Besides the difference in pricing structures between Google Ads and Local Services Ads, another key difference is the targeting options they offer. 

With Google Ads, advertisers can target their ads based on keywords, location, device type, and other factors. This allows businesses to reach a specific audience that is likely to be interested in their products or services. 

In contrast, Local Services Ads are primarily based on location. Advertisers specify the areas they serve, and their ads are shown to users in those areas who are searching for local services.

Local Services Ads and Local SEO

Local Services Ads can complement a business's local SEO efforts by increasing their visibility in local search results. 

Although LSAs are a form of paid advertising for Google, and thus don't directly impact your organic local search rankings, they are directly integrated with Google Business Profile. Having a complete, accurate, and optimized Google Business Profile can help you run more successful LSAs, which can influence your overall visibility in local search results.

When a user searches for a local service, Google may show both Local Services Ads and organic search results, giving your business a better chance of appearing at the top of Google results. 

This may be particularly beneficial for highly competitive search terms, such as those for the top general service-related keywords in your industry, where you may not yet be appearing in the top 3 organic search results (Google's 3-Pack).

By appearing at the top of the search results, Local Services Ads can increase the chances of a user contacting your business, which can lead to more leads and conversions. Plus, since you only pay for leads, you don't lose anything if someone sees your LSAs and doesn't interact with them.

Additionally, appearing in Local Services Ads can help businesses build trust with potential customers. Google verifies the businesses that appear in Local Services Ads, ensuring they meet certain quality and trustworthiness standards. This verification process can help reassure users that the businesses they find through Local Services Ads are reputable and reliable, and therefore worth contacting.

After a customer has scheduled and received a service through your Google LSAs, you can also ask them to leave a review directly through the platform. This is another way LSAs can contribute to your local SEO efforts — the more positive reviews you get on Google, the more likely you are to outrank competitors in local search results.

These reviews don't go away if you leave the Local Services Ads platform, either. They may get combined with other Google Reviews, such as those on Google Business Profile, thus boosting your overall local SEO performance.

Wrapping It All Up

Google Ads and Local Services Ads offer businesses different ways to advertise online. While the Google Ads platform is more flexible in terms of targeting and ad formats, Local Services Ads are specifically designed for service-based businesses looking to connect with local customers. 

By understanding the differences between these two platforms, businesses can choose the one that best aligns with their advertising goals and budget.

For example, e-commerce businesses can likely benefit the most from running several different types of Google Ads, exposing their products to a wide range of potential customers online. 

On the other hand, local service providers can probably get the most bang for their buck out of Google LSAs, which can also complement their local SEO strategy perfectly!

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