Google Local Services Ads Is Taking Local SEO Traffic

One of the latest game changer in local SEO world is without a doubt Google Local Services Ads (LSA). Basically it’s a new text ads format display on Google search results for queries related to home services.

Advertising services is Google’s primary source of income so it’s not a surprise that Google Local Services Ads is shown at the top followed by traditional Google Text Ads as you can see here on desktop:

 

Google Local Services Ads on desktop

 

Here’s another screenshot this time on mobile:

 

On Mobile Google Local Services Ads

 

*** It’s important to note that Google Local Services ads is available only for local businesses offering specific home services like Locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, HVAC, carpet cleaners, house cleaners, and garage door services and only in United States and Canada. Most probably, more countries will soon be eligible as Google normally rolls out new updates first in the USA then expand in other countries. ***

 

New challenge for local SEO experts

I decided to write this article based on the challenge I encountered with one of my client when I was working on her Local SEO. After a well done On-page & Off-page optimization to rank as much keywords in the local 3-packs as possible, the customer actions from her GMB dashboard and her click-through rate were abnormally low for her actual local keywords rankings on Google. This brought me to realize that Google Local Services Ads is literally taking local SEO traffic, here’s why:

 

Search ads blend into organic listings

Everyone knows someone who doesn’t like to click on Google ads. In our case, searchers might not be fully aware that Google Local Services are effectively ads. As you can see here, there’s no Ad icon next to it, only a Sponsored mention prompting the Google Guaranteed and other information.

No Ad icon to the Google Local Services Ads

Google local services ads, a no-brainer!

The Google Guarantee Badge

It didn’t take me long to found out where the traffic was going for the location-based keywords of my client. The new Google Local Services Ads is definitely a no-brainer for the users mainly because of its Google Guarantee. In a nutshell, the Google Guarantee offers a refund up to the amount paid for jobs (or a maximum of $2,000 or CAD 2,000) booked through Google Local Services ads. For more details here’s the official documentation.

This easily explain why this new Google’s ad units is so popular and receive most of the clicks from local queries therefore attracting most local SEO traffic!

 

The Monetization Of Google’s Local 3-Pack

In a competitive & strong local home services market, some clicks will nevertheless continue to go to the local 3-packs, even if the local 3-packs is buried under Google Local Services Ads and traditional Google Text Ads. Unfortunately, with all the data I collected and analyzed from different sources (SEMrush, GMB, GA, BrightLocal), I can confirm that Google Local Services Ads now grab the bigger piece of the pie and therefore Google succeeded to monetize local search queries for home services market.

 

Comparisons & data analysis

Because of non-disclosure agreements, I cannot share the data. In spite of that, here’s the metrics I analyzed to evaluate the Click-Through Rate (CTR) or for local SEO terms, Action-Through Rate (ATR):

From SEMrush Position Tracking Tool:

  • Keyword’s volume
  • Keyword’s position
  • Estimated Traffic
  • Local Pack SERP Feature

From Google My Business (GMB) Insights:

  • Views on map and on search
  • Customer actions (website visits, direction requests, calls)

By comparing the results with my other local SEO clients, I found the click-through rate (CTR) of my client competing with Google Local Services Ads (LSA) very low compared to the average CTR of my other clients who do not compete with LSA.

 

Is local SEO still worth the effort & investment?

The short answer is yes but for quick and strong results, no.

My advice, before taking a local SEO decision, I would recommend to search first for your money keywords (or your client’s money keywords) on Google to see if you’ll have to compete with Google Local Services Ads. For digital marketers, don’t forget to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool from Google Ads to change your location.

If you are facing a local home services market with Google Local Services Ads then you’ll compete for a small portion of the local traffic on Google if you decide to push local SEO. In such situation, you’ll have to ask yourself how to allocate your online marketing budget between small, durable and steady traffic (local SEO) versus high and “quick results” traffic (Google Local Services Ads). It is worth noting that both marketing channels require investment!

At the end it’s all about your online marketing objectives.

* To know more about the Ranking Factors of Google Local Services Ads, I invite you to visit The Ultimate Guide to Google’s Local Service Ads from WordStream.