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What Are Local Service Ads?

Learn the differences between Local Service Ads, Google Guaranteed, and Google Screened, and why local businesses should care about these programs.


There’s been a lot of news lately about Local Service Ads (LSAs), Google Guaranteed, and Google Screened.

New industries added, changes to the platform, and other updates prompted me to answer:

“Just what are these local service ads and how do I get the green checkmark?”

What’s the Difference Between LSAs, Google Guaranteed & Google Screened?

Example of local service ads using google screened

Local Service Ads

  • Local Service Ads are pay per lead, not click: you’ll be able to bid on a per lead basis rather than paying for clicks that don’t turn into engagements with your intake team.
  • These ads serve through normal SERPs (search engine results pages) on mobile, desktop, tablet devices, as well as through voice search.
  • They rank based on positive reviews and proximity to the searcher.
  • Part of the process of signing up for Local Service Ads means becoming Google Guaranteed (background checks, checking licenses, and insurance).

Example of google guarantee

Google Guarantee

  • Serves next to your Local Service Ad to let potential customers know that you’re covered by the Google Guarantee (up to $2,000).
  • Requires background checks, licenses, and insurance for the business and all customer-facing employees.
  • This geared more toward home service providers (plumbers/locksmiths)

example of google screened

Google Screened

  • Clients who have gone through the background checks required of the Google Guarantee, and have a customer review score of 3+.
  • There is no coverage for customer claims.
  • This is geared mostly towards lawyers and financial providers.

Why Are LSAs Exciting?

Local Service Ads are exciting because:

  • Much cheaper than traditional click to call PPC (average monthly budget of $5,000 vs $15,000+)
  • Pay per lead: you only pay for calls that last at least 2 minutes
  • A major ranking factor is the amazing experience you provide your customers, leveling the playing field for firms large and small to win.

example of budget for local service ads

What Do I Need to Know Before Getting Started?

While reviews flow freely between Local Service Ads and Google My Business listings, the Google Guarantee/Screened mark does not serve next to your Google My Business listing.

Just like Google My Business, Local Service Ads benefit from proximity to the user, as well as reviews.

The closer you are to the prospect, the better chance you have to be the answer Google serves.

Some industries require the full team to go through background checks, while others only require the owner to do it.

What you need to have ready to build your local service ads profile

It’s worth noting, there is no option for “no expiration date”, so you will need to set the expiration date well into the future if your certifications don’t expire.

The most important part of winning with LSAs is responding to leads and reviews in a timely manner. Given that the main ranking factors are proximity and reviews, responsiveness is key.

The biggest hurdle to getting set-up is the background check (completed by Pinkerton).

Depending on industry/number of employees, this process can take up to 5 weeks to complete.

Finally, Google doesn’t require you to run traditional Google search campaigns to get access to Local Service Ads.

This removes a big barrier to entry for SMBs who may have wanted to test the program, but didn’t have the budget for a conventional search play.


Local Service Ads are great for local SMBs with customer service instincts and a love of phone leads.

Have a question about PPC? Submit via this form or tweet me @navahf with the #AskPPC hashtag. See you next month!

More Resources:

VIP CONTRIBUTOR Navah Hopkins Evangelist at Optmyzr

Navah Hopkins is the Evangelist for Optmyzr. A veteran of the digital marketing industry, she began as an SEO in ...

What Are Local Service Ads?

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