Local Services Ads (LSAs) have been a success for Google. Originally designed for home services advertisers, Google initiated a test last August with select professional services categories (lawyers, financial planners and realtors) in San Diego and Houston.

National rollout. After a successful trial run, Google has decided to formally roll out LSAs for professional services nationally. It will be available initially to lawyers, financial planners, real estate agents and tax preparers, although I’ve seen other categories discussed as well. Currently there are nearly 50 business categories and sub-categories available for LSAs, most of which are home services.

LSAs appear at the top of search results and deliver leads to advertisers in the form of calls, messages or, most recently, direct bookings. The latter requires a relationship with one of Google’s authorized booking partners.

Differences between Guaranteed and Screened. To participate in the program, LSA advertisers must meet a minimum review score threshold (3.0 stars or higher) and be Google Guaranteed or Google Screened. Both programs involve license and background checks. Google Guaranteed also offers a limited money-back guarantee if consumers aren’t satisfied with the provider’s work. That same guaranteed doesn’t extend to services under Google Screened.

From a consumer perspective, one of the major differences between home and professional services LSAs is the use of provider headshots in the ad. Headshots don’t appear in home services LSAs and could make a big difference in CTRs and conversions.

Google provided us with the following statement about the rollout, “We are pleased to bring our initial pilot of professional services to a full launch in the United States within our Local Services ad unit.  This expansion brings more opportunity for these providers to reach potential customers when they are searching for their services.”

Why we care. Google wouldn’t share any data about the performance of LSAs, but they appear to perform well for local advertisers. And Google wouldn’t be expanding the program if they weren’t similarly pleased with performance.

Recently Google started making the Google Guaranteed badge available to non-advertisers as part of an upgraded profile for $50 per month. Currently the Google Screened certification is only for advertisers, which creates an incentive to adopt LSAs. Legal and real estate in particular tend to be highly competitive industries and we’re likely to see almost immediate adoption.

Source: www.searchengineland.com