By now, you’re probably familiar with Google’s Local Services Ads, which are included with a Homesnap Concierge subscription. But if you’re not, here’s a quick summary:
A brand-new advertising product from Google, Local Services Ads seamlessly facilitate contact from homebuyers and sellers to real estate agents in their market. They’re prioritized at the top of the Google search page, above traditional paid search advertisements, and, most notably, enable prospective buyers and sellers to call an agent (via their desktop or mobile device) directly from the ad unit.
As you can imagine, the premium on-page location and lack of form fills make Local Services Ads a game-changing addition to any agent’s digital marketing repertoire. Yet, it’s important to note that these ads, like all advertisements, are not a guaranteed set-it-and-forget-it lead generation product. An agent’s actions can—and will—have a significant impact on performance.
We’ll explore what you can do to boost the efficacy of your Local Services Ads below.
Answer the phone
As mentioned, the primary differentiator of these ad units is the mechanization that enables Google searchers to seamlessly call an agent directly from the ad unit. Naturally, then, Google prioritizes those agents who answer the phone more often than those who don’t. Don’t pick up at all, and, well, you’re more or less throwing money away.
It works like this:
- Google assigns a “responsiveness score” to every agent running a Local Services Ad.
- Starting with the very first phone call placed, Google tabulates your ranking.
- The first few calls are weighted more heavily than others. If you answer calls 1-10 and miss 11 and 12, Google won’t ding you too much, if at all. If, however, you miss calls 1-3, Google may categorize you as a low-responding agent. Depending on the competitiveness of your market, Google’s assessment may prove difficult to reverse.
So, if you’re going to spend on Google’s Local Services Ads, do not undermine your own efforts by neglecting to pick up the phone—especially at the beginning. Remember, you’re never charged for unqualified leads (If you’re running ads through Homesnap Concierge, we’ll handle any disputes with Google on your behalf), so there are absolutely zero downsides to answering.
Yes, we know there may be times when doing so is inconvenient, and you’ll be tempted to forward a call or two to voicemail. But in the early days of running your Local Services Ads, it’ll behoove you to make every effort to be available. After all, what’s a little inconvenience for the chance to be one of the most recommended agents in your market by the most powerful search engine in the world?
Get more reviews to feature in your ads
Google prioritizes ad units that feature an agent’s reviews. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Of course Google would want to reward those agents who regularly interact with its products. So, for that reason alone, you should make sure you have enough positive reviews to incorporate in your marketing. We could end this section right here.
But the benefits of reviews run deeper than the chance to bolster the performance of your Local Services Ads, and they’re worth noting. Google reviews are a key component of the company’s organic search algorithm. Specifically, the more up-to-date (generally defined within the past 90 days) and positive reviews an agent has, the more likely they are to appear for broad searches like “best agent near me” or “real estate agents in my city.”
In fact, our Homesnap Data Scientists found:
- Agents with an average review rating of 4.0 or better on Google appear in 350% more Google searches than agents with an average review rating of 0-3.
- Agents with a 4.0 average review rating on Google received 300% more actions (calls, texts, website views, and direction requests) than those with a review rating of 0-3.
- The more reviews an agent has, the better they perform in search, views, and actions.
Taking the time to solicit reviews can strengthen both your organic and paid marketing. Two birds meet one stone.
Make sure you get a “Google Screened” badge
Google became the world’s most used search engine, beating out the Yahoos and Ask Jeeves of the world, because it was able to bring accurate and up-to-date information to searchers more consistently than its competitors. Today, as Google seeks to position itself as the preferred way for the public to connect with local businesses, the absolute last thing it wants is consumer trust to erode because advertisers are willfully misrepresenting themselves on its platform.
That’s why Google gives such heavy priority, in both on-page ranking and appearance in search results, to agents with a “Google Screened” badge. These badges, which are only granted after Google conducts a business-level background and license check, are essentially Google’s way of indicating to the public that an agent is vetted, trustworthy, and legitimate – like a digital referral.
Right now, agents do not have to undergo a Google background check in order to use on Local Services Ads. However, their ads will be deprioritized until they do. And that’s a big deal.
Look at this picture below. It shows the desktop view of Local Services Agents in Nashville, TN.
Notice the Google Screened checkmark? A non-screened agent isn’t going to receive that prime on-page location.