Adam C.

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Hello - I have recently run across a few agencies promoting setup and management of Google Local Services Ads. Has anyone had any insight into how this is possible? The business owner has to be the one to setup the program correct? And has anyone seen anyway to add value to the program with management? Does Google work with agencies on the LSA?
 

Phil Rozek

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@Adam C., yeah, that doesn't pass my sniffer test, because there's not too much value a third party can add. Maybe if an agency can help the business owner with the background check. But, even then, that still involves him or her personally, and LSAs are pretty low-maintenance.

Helping with Local Services Ads is more the domain of someone who's already helping a business owner with local SEO, PPC, or both. That's because it takes a little engineering to make sure LSAs don't detract from your other visibility sources. As I wrote in my most recent blog post, LSA Google reviews can screw up one's broader Google review strategy (because they don't show up in Maps). Also, if you're very visible elsewhere in the search results, in some cases you may pay Google for a cut of a transaction you would have gotten anyway.

I'd be interested to hear what those agencies can do (or claim to do), but I just don't see how they can offer LSA set-up and management as a valuable standalone service. Seems more like a sinecure they can get clients to pay for about 3 months.
 

Adam C.

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Hi @Phil Rozek,

While I don't want to single a company out, this company did contact 2 of my HVAC clients and pitch them LSA as if they were going to help setup, manage - Google Local Services Ads | SearchKings -.
My clients reached out to me to see if it was BS or not and that led me here. After I looked over the website I found this video and what really caught my attention is at the 8:53 mark of this video the guy says "as a client you will be saving 15%" off the cost per lead. So basically claiming that they have some sort of LSA partnership with Google where they can get their clients a 15% reduction in cost per lead? -
 

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As a LSA end user I can say that Phil is absolutely correct in everything that he said. The initial setup was super easy and management is seamless. The only thing you really need to do is keep up with the disputes, which is something the end user should be doing since it's quicker to click a button than to relay information to a third party to click the button for you.

As for the video, I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I would ask that company directly if they really get a 15% discount and how.

EDIT: After watching the video, you can see that while he is playing with the slider the amount per lead is $24. A 15% discount on that would be $20.40.
Later, minute mark 8:55 shows $428.40 for 21 leads, if you do the math you will see that they are being charged at $21.40 each.

So there is a 15% discount in there.
 
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Adam C.

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How the heck do you think that is possible? If there is a Google LSA partnership for agencies where they can become authorized to get their clients a 15% discount on leads wouldn't that be more well known by now?
 

Phil Rozek

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@Adam C., yeah, I watched the video, and wonder the same thing. There is no way that agency gets a discount from Google, so it's a question of what they (the agency) trim back or discount.

Even if there was a discount in there that didn't somehow mean the business owner ends up with less than a whole loaf, it's offset by paying a company to manage something that can't be managed much or at all by a third party.

It's a good video, though. Goes to show that business owners can manage LSAs themselves without too much strain. I've had some pretty disorganized, ready-fire-aim clients use LSAs, and even they never complained that it was cumbersome to set up or manage.
 

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I had a client reach out to me and say SearchKings is offering "google guaranteed" for 1,500$
 

TomW

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Google does work with agencies in LSA. It can be challenging to price from an agency standpoint but there can definitely be value that an agency can provide for onboarding and management. We've spent many hours helping clients with it over the past 3 years. It's going to vary from business to business. Some small businesses with a low budget can be fine on their own but others will want help.

While there isn't a lot to manage, staying on top of it can provide advantages over businesses that aren't paying much attention. I would certainly prefer that the competitors of a client manage it on their own.

I had a hard time believing it too when I found out about the 15% discount a couple of years ago but I've seen enough to know it's true. This was happening with a few select agencies. I'm not 100% but I don't think it's in place any longer.
 

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I would certainly prefer that the competitors of a client manage it on their own.
Hi Tom. What do you do that is better than what your client's competitors do? Reading that question back to myself I have to admit that it looks snide, but I assure you that it is not. I am curious what else could be done so that I can implement it myself.
 

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You can be fine on your own as long as you're keeping an eye on it. LSA is not good about letting advertisers know when updates have been made or new features have been added. I've seen several businesses that were not targeting their entire service area (regardless of if they were managing it on their own or having an agency help. So I should clarify that it doesn't really matter if you're managing it on your own or if an agency is helping... the main point is that someone is paying attention). The service area issue was mainly due to only part of their service area being available to target when they initially set up their account. As LSA expanded later, more cities and zip codes were added and several businesses didn't go back into their profile to update their service area. So that's a quick and easy one to check but can cause a business to be missing out leads otherwise.

Keep an eye on 'not charged leads', particularly for missed calls. If you're seeing a lot of missed calls you need to find out why that's happening as it can have a negative impact on ranking.

Bookings and messaging have recently been added to some LSA categories. These may or may not be a good fit but are worth looking into. You do have to be using a booking partner to enable bookings but that is not the case for messaging. Both of those lead types are currently free (I believe until the end of September). We have a client that has received over 200 booking leads for free since enabling.

In addition to LSA, our clients have Google and Bing pay-per-click ad campaigns running. We create custom reporting dashboards using Data Studio so they're able to see cost and conversions for all three platforms in one place. So in addition to onboarding and management assistance, I think the reporting side is an area where an agency can provide value.
 

Tony Wang

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I agree with Tom, there are some things you can do to add value, but mainly it's a matter of paying attention. LSA is definitely way more simple than PPC, for example, but set it and forget will still lead to waste. LSA management is most likely not worth a lot of money, though, in fact I'm not sure I would even want to take on such a client unless I thought it would lead to other types of work eventually.

One thing you need to pay attention to is the actual leads you get, because you can dispute garbage leads. I think Google does a pretty good job not charging for stuff like robocalls, but once in a while something slips in, like someone requesting a service you don't provide.
 

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One thing you need to pay attention to is the actual leads you get, because you can dispute garbage leads. I think Google does a pretty good job not charging for stuff like robocalls, but once in a while something slips in, like someone requesting a service you don't provide.
I have been using LSA since the very beginning and can say that Google doesn't do anything. Nothing at all, they are terrible.

Any call is charged if it lasts longer than 30 seconds. A robocall or telemarketing call will be charged if it lasts 31 seconds, including a voicemail. It is up to you to dispute it. Just like when people call looking for employment or to ask you to do a completely different trade, etc. You have to dispute the charge because Google charges you immediately.

Then you wait for the dispute to be reviewed, sometimes taking over a month. Then if they approve the dispute they will issue a credit which often take 2+ months.

The dispute process goes thru multiple completely different teams which don't communicate well. You can't speak with anyone who determines the disputes, you just talk to someone who doesn't know anything who will contact the dispute team and get back to you "in 72 hours", which is often over a week. And when they get back to you, they give a generic response.

It's not a good system and I hate that they take my money and then I have to fight over a period of months to get it back.

Just to give an example of the issue:

Google was very clear when they contacted me and asked me to be part of this program and paid for my background check that I would be able to use it only for the services that I wanted and I would not have to pay for other services that I do not want to provide to the customers.

So I chose profitable services like car charger installation and panel upgrades (ie. installing a new panel). I did not want to do basic troubleshooting service calls because I get enough organic calls for that already I see no reason to pay for more.

So someone calls saying they need a new breaker. I talk to them and find that a circuit is out, and I explain that it's probably not the breaker, that they need a service call to troubleshoot what will probably be a loose connection somewhere. And I tell them straight out that I don't do that service as google told me I had to say.

I dispute that call so that I don't get charged (in reality, so that they reimburse me the money they already charged me the second that call ended). I wait 3 weeks to find that the dispute is not approved. I call and email asking why and get no good reason. I keep calling and finally after a few weeks I find because the customer wanted a new breaker, which they finagle into being part of the "panel upgrade" task that I have my account set to accept.

But I turned the lead down, that person went on to call the next LSA company so Google is still getting their money.

Sorry for the long rant lol...
 

Tony Wang

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@DontBiteUrNails it's definitely not perfect, no system is. But I've found it WAY better than Google Ads, if it works for your particular niche. If not, don't use it.

The example you gave, I think Google is valid in denying your dispute, the person called looking for a service you provide.

My general approach is just to listen to the call and dispute if it's not a good lead. I don't even bother following up because it's not worth the time. The only client I'm using it for right now pays ~27/lead, which is way cheaper than Ads. I've gotten plenty of approved disputes, though not all.

I track the leads and it gives us a good return, so everyone is happy for now. May change tomorrow. I've explored the possibility with other clients but figured out it wouldn't be worth it for some. For others, they don't want to even try. It's like any other form of advertising, it may or may not work, but you won't know for sure until you try.
 

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The example you gave, I think Google is valid in denying your dispute, the person called looking for a service you provide.
That’s the thing, it’s not a service that I provide. Replacing a breaker is not a panel upgrade, it’s a completely different job. To give an example, it’s like an HVAC company that only installs new AC units getting a call because the customer thinks they need a new capacitor.

Never mind the fact that the customer didn’t need a new breaker and I explained it to them on the phone.

Google was very clear when they sold me on the service, I won’t have to pay for leads for tasks that I don’t want to perform. I don’t want to do service calls nor do I want to replace a breaker. But they charged me, and when dealing with them it was all third hand information through a call center person that didn’t have a clue. All that stuff that Google tells us about customer service and giving the customers the best experience, they certainly don’t do it themselves.

I understand what you are saying about LSA being better than Google Ads. But when you are paying $25 for each of those leads that Google specifically told you that you wouldn't have to pay for, you'd see that it really adds up. Both in your checking account and mind. :ROFLMAO:
 
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