Google Disrupts How Pest Control Companies Make the Phone Ring with Local Service Ads

What has Google done to me now?

Google Local Service (GLS) ads is Google’s version of a pay per lead service, kind of like Home Advisor or Angie’s List. GLS ads are a relatively new service, in select markets, that completely changes the layout to Google’s Search Results. Local Service Ads actually show up above Google Adwords (Pay-Per-Click), Maps & Organic Listings.

Many pest control operators probably have some experience with Home advisor and Angie’s list. A high percentage of those that have tried HA and AL products may have had bad experiences. In that case your question may be “what is Google doing to me now?” Luckily that isn’t the case with Google Local Service ads because the product is different and much better.

Plumbers, locksmiths and HVAC companies are much more familiar with Google Local Service ads because they have been exposed to them for over a year. Google has only recently opened up GLS ads to the Pest Control industry and only in select markets. Luck for those of us in the Pest Control industry as we can take what plumbers learned the hard way and make GLS ads work in your favor. That is those that take advantage of GLS ads.

What do we know about Google Local Service ads?

Luckily for the pest control industry you are not the proverbial guinea pigs. Plumbers and lock smiths had a very steep learning curve when the ads first kicked off with their verticals. Google has refined the product making the service more intuitive since then and we have a pretty good idea of what costs will be now and into the future.

Google Local Service ad facts:

  1. Pay Per Lead service
  2. Advertisers are only charged for valid leads
  3. The top 3 ads appear at the top of search results
  4. Reviews are IMPORTANT
  5. Only available in select markets but expanding
  6. Advertisers must be licenced and insured
  7. Company owners and technicians must pass a background check

Pay Per Lead Facts:

If you are currently advertising with Google Ads (PPC) and don’t have your landing pages converting at a high rate then you know it can be pretty high stakes when paying $10 plus per click. With GLS ads the advertiser pays per valid lead. Yes that means if one of those annoying sales people call you from your ad it doesn’t cost you $30 or more.

What you DO pay for (strait from Google):

  • You receive a text message or email from the customer (US only).
  • You receive a voicemail from the customer.
  • You answer a phone call and speak with the customer.
  • You receive a missed call (without a voicemail), and you return the customer’s message with a text message, email or call where you either speak with the customer or leave a voicemail.

Exactly what you want and should pay for!

What you DO NOT pay for (strait from Google):

If you receive an invalid charge — for example, you’re charged for a lead that isn’t related to your business or the services you offer — you can dispute the charge in your account. Here are the types of charged leads that are eligible for a credit:

  • Requested job isn’t listed on your profile.
  • Customer’s location isn’t listed on your profile.
  • Not a customer (for example: wrong number, sales call or other solicitation).
  • Not a human (spam or bot).
  • You were charged twice for the same customer lead within 15 days.
  • You didn’t have a conversation with a customer and you had no way to contact them. For example, you receive a message lead where the customer’s email is invalid or a phone lead with no caller ID.

Almost any lead can be disputed, but you are going to have to have a valid reason. Google records the calls so there is no question what was said during the call. This is great for the advertiser because if you do receive a bad call chances are you will not pay for it. We highly recommend not challenging valid leads just to get out of paying for them, for obvious reasons.

Although you can immediately dispute charges within your account, you have a total of 60 days to do so. Credit requests for invalid leads won’t be considered after 60 days. Before crediting a lead, Google will listen to call recordings to verify that one of the approved reasons applies. Learn more about how we use call recordings

Okay, so what do you mean by Disruption and is it a bad thing?

Let’s put things in perspective here. Google is disrupting a major source of leads for pest control companies by changing what searchers see on search results and shifting the click distribution significantly from what previously existed.

Google Local Service ads will shift more clicks to the paid side of the ledger.

In the old Google model approximately 10% of all pest control clicks were paid clicks. While the data isn’t in yet, the addition of GLS ads could shift that share of paid clicks to the 15% to 20% rang. While that may not seem like a lot the impact is significant. The impact could be felt more significantly on the companies with more established SEO assets.

While that may not seem like a good idea to everyone, it does give small to mid-sized companies a better edge in the market when competing with the giants like Orkin and Terminix, who have monthly SEO budgets in the six figure range.

Is GLS ads bad for pest control companies? No it isn’t for those that learn to take advantage or the positives and incorporate Google Local Service ads into their overall search engine  marketing strategy. GLS ads will in most cases reduce the overall cost per lead, and increase customer confidence in well placed companies on the service.

What can we learn from those that have come before us?

  1. The cost per lead is lowest to start and will grow over time.
  2. The quantity of leads is limited and becomes more limited as more companies compete on the new GLS ads.
  3. Positive reviews and an effective review request strategy is important.

Important competitive factors that Google doesn’t tell you about.

  1. Local SEO/Listing Listings are important for placement in GLS.
  2. Website SEO and page authority are important for placement in GLS.

Early adopters will get the most out of the new GLS ads both in terms of cost per lead (CPL) and quantity of leads that are available. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the cost will become prohibitive or that the lead quantity will eventually become insignificant. In practice your overall strategy and balance between Google Local Service ads and more traditional Google Ads (PPC) budgets and lead distribution will change over time.

Google Local Service ads are here to stay for the pest control industry. Like all things Google what the advertiser would like to see is less important to Google than what Google executives perceive as best for the consumer. In plain terms GLS ads are here weather we like them or not. It is truly a case of jump on board or get run over.

Stay tuned as future articles will go into more detail about strategy and implementation. We have specific strategies for general pest control operators (PCO), bed bug specific operations and combination.

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