Search Ads Vs Local Service Ads

A client called this week wanting to know why his LSA ad was featuring the wrong phone number. The short answer – it’s a tracking number Google is using on our behalf – but in reality, it only opened Pandora’s box to more and more questions.

It’s never a problem to explain these things – but the call was a great reminder that our understanding (as professionals who work in it everyday) can be vastly different than our clients (who son’t spend time in the programs – that’s why they came to us).

Digital marketing can be confusing – the digital team could be making all the right moves to support your business, but unless you have a baseline knowledge of the tactic, you might not be able to judge it’s success accurately.

What is the difference between Google Search ads and Google Local Service Ads? How are the similar, how are they different and how are they serving different purposes in your marketing efforts?

Consider this as your intro to Search 101… barely even scraping the surface, but at least it gets you going. 


Google Ads are your opportunity to place a link to your website at the top of a user’s search query in a Google search. Various ad types might share specifics about your services, your locations, special offers and more. Traditional search ads on Google offer an immense amount of flexibility to get the right message across at the right time. 

Local Service Ads differ in a variety of ways, including how they are presented, who can be featured, what information is provided and importantly how they fit into the marketing mix. 

Understanding how they work and why they are different in your marketing will help you better communicate with your digital marketing team. 

1) Local Service Ads are only for specific business types.

Availability will vary depending on your area but Google is likely to keep launching more categories. Currently, Local Service Ads (LSA) are available for 60ish specific industries only.

If the LSA ads are not available for your industry or your industry has not been opened up yet in your area – keep checking.

Some of the most popular categories for LSA ads are Home Services like Plumbers or Electricians. 

2) Local Service Ads offer limited options for how you can present your business.

Reviews rule the world – and your Google Review score is backbone to your LSA campaign. Where a traditional search ad allows you to write headlines and copy to best appeal in the search results, and LSA ad offers less.

Business name, Google star ranking, hours and one line of description, which is generated from a pre-set list of options.

3) With Local Service Ads, a ‘Google Guarantee’ is available.

The Google Guarantee – a green checkmark on your lsiting is intended to add credibility to your business, a stamp of approval directly from Google.

After submitting a background check on the owner or manager of the business, Google will then approve your business to bear the checkmark. This is not (yet) an option for traditional search ads.

Note: While we do love Google for offering their blessing to enhance our ads, it should be noted that there are a number of reasons why your Google Guarantee won’t show on your search. The primary reason being your ads are low on budget. (Don’t forget – this is a revenue stream for them)

4) Local Service Ads are best used when intent to make a purchase is high. 

LSA ads offer very little context on the company and are served at the very top of the page. Their design is highly conducive to being the right choice for someone who knows what they want / need and are simply searching Google to make that connection.

For consumers still in the research phase of a purchase, LSA ads can actually be quite costly. 

When the consumer is in the research phase it’s information that they seek. Traditional search ads offer a much more robust snippet of your company and link the users to places to find even more information. 

While connecting with them over the phone would seem to always be the best option, when you consider the price differences between Search Ads and LSA Ads – you may change your mind. 

For someone who only seeks information, the price of an LSA ad can be detrimental to your overall campaign. 

5) Pricing… Location… Intent… There’s even more to say about how they’re similar and how they’re very different.

How you should incorporate both Search Ads and Local Service Ads into your marketing mix depends on an even longer list of criteria; including your goals, budgets, type of service and brand recognition.

Both ad formats are valuable and both should be considered in your ad mix – but how they fit best for you will need to be determined with a deeper dive into your business. 

For a free consultation on your current digital strategy email us at [email protected]