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The HVAC Contractors Guide to Google Local Service Ads

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In 2014, I wrote a blog post suggesting that Google was quietly transitioning from an advertising business model to an e-commerce business model. I predicted that instead of charging businesses for an impression or a click, Google would connect homeowners directly with a business and charge the business for the lead and/or job.

Many didn’t agree—they said Google would never risk disrupting their billion-dollar advertising empire. Admittedly, it took longer than I expected, but my prediction came true with the launch of the Local Service ads platform this past year.

Local Service ads connect homeowners directly with your business—bypassing your website and, some would say, bypassing a critical opportunity for you to differentiate your business from your competition. Instead of being charged for a click, you get charged per lead.

Understandably, business owners and marketers alike are scrambling to understand the Local Service ads program and the short and long-term implications it has on their digital strategy. One of the benefits of working with hundreds of contractors all around the country is the macro view it provides me and my team at Blue Corona on the program.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the gist of Google Local Service ads, and I’ll address some of the most common questions HVAC contractors have. I’ll also give you my impressions on the program so far in terms of the results we’re seeing for our other HVAC clients.

The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Google’s Local Services Ad Program

What Are Google’s Local Services Ads?

Google’s Local Services ads are pay per lead ads that appear at the very top of the search results, through voice search, and through Google Home. This is an important distinction as voice search and home assistants, like Google Home, become more prominent—Local Services is integrated with Google Home and is the only home services ad platform available through the device.

How Do Local Services Ads Work?

To set up your business, you choose your services from an industry list. Your ads will be eligible to show when Google deems a person’s search query and location match your services in your service area. This is one of the biggest differences between Local Services and AdWords—unlike AdWords, you select categories and not keywords. That means you can’t pick exactly what your ads will and won’t show for. Remember though, you are not paying for keywords and clicks. With Google Local Services ads, you’re paying for leads.

How Much Do Local Services Ads Cost, and How Do I Pay for Them?

Once you’re signed up, you set a budget and then pay per lead. The price you pay per lead depends on the service, the area, and the competition in the area. When a lead is generated, Google charges your AdWords account, deducting money from your allocated budget. Once you have the lead, it’s up to you to convert it into an appointment and eventually a sale, but—and this is important—if you receive a bad lead (by Google’s criteria), you can dispute it.

We’ve set up dozens of Google Local Services ads for our HVAC clients, and I can tell you, we dispute the validity of leads on behalf of our clients on a pretty regular basis. Right now, HVAC leads are typically between $25 and $35. The volume of leads varies considerably based on budget and geography, but we’ve seen some HVAC contractors consistently get as 35 – 60 leads per month.

Which Job Categories and Services Are Available?

There are a number of job and service categories available, so you have a variety of options; however, if you’re a contractor that offers HVAC and other services—like plumbing and electrical—there is a caveat. If you want to market multiple services (e.g., HVAC and plumbing), you have to submit each one in a separate application.

Here are some of the available HVAC service categories:

  • AC maintenance
  • Install AC
  • Repair AC
  • Clean ducts & vents
  • Repair ducts and vents
  • HVAC maintenance
  • Repair HVAC
  • Install thermostat
  • Repair thermostat

When a prospective customer does a Google search for “AC repair contractor Rockville, Maryland,” Google will analyze their search and location; if it matches your location and one of your selected categories and you have available budget in your account, your ad will show.

Where Are Local Services Ads Available?

Google is rolling out Local Services one marketing at time. As a Google Premier Partner, we’ve been working behind the scenes to get our HVAC clients set up and ready for the markets scheduled to launch next.

Here are the available markets (as of the publishing date of this article):

  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  • Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH
  • Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  • Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  • Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
  • Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  • Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • Louis, MO-IL
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

How Do Local Services Ads Rank?

Your Google Local Services ads are shown above pay per click ads in the search results; they include your average review ratings, phone number, location, hours, and an option to call you. Your ads rank based on your proximity to the searcher, your Google My Business rating and number of reviews, how quickly you respond to leads, and your business hours.

What Are the Requirements to Participate?

To run Google Local Services ads, your company must qualify for the Google Guarantee. To do that, your technicians must pass a background check performed by Google’s selected provider (currently, Pinkerton). The background check is free, and you are required to notify the background check company of any new employees or legal issues that may affect your eligibility. You will be required to recertify for Local Services “periodically.” You also must meet licensing and insurance requirements.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Google’s Local Services?

When it comes to advertising and marketing, the long-term key to success is to: track, test, tweak, repeat. Every advertising platform and marketing channel has pros and cons, and Google Local Services ads are no exception.

These are the pros and cons of Google Local Services as we see them:

Pros of Google Local Services

  • Your ads show at the top of Google and are visible without scrolling (on desktop and mobile devices)
  • Google is, by far, the most frequent starting point for consumers in need of home services
  • You get to connect with customers at the exact moment they demonstrate a need and intent to use the services you provide
  • Leads come in as phone calls, and phone calls convert into appointments and jobs at a higher rate than a website contact form
  • Google’s Local Services program is the only home services ad program synced with Google’s voice assistant and home assistant devices
  • You get the “Google Guarantee” badge displayed next to your company name
  • You only pay for leads related to your business and the services you offer
  • You can dispute leads and get reimbursed if they meet the requirements
  • You only hear from customers who have specifically selected your profile out of all the rest

Cons of Google Home Services

  • There can be a long waiting period to get approved and set up with the program (you can engage a Google Premier Partner to do this for you)
  • The set-up process and interface are confusing for those that don’t spend a significant portion of their day doing this type of work (a number of our customers have attempted to sign up themselves but have ended up reaching out to us after running into hiccups with the process)
  • The ads only include your contact info, which means there’s not much room to differentiate your company
  • You don’t get to pick the keywords your ads show up for
  • Google isn’t very good at telling when people are calling about an area that the client has indicated they do not serve
  • Google’s algorithm attempts to rotate the ads shown among advertisers, so you aren’t able to maximize your search presence with Local Services alone

How Do I Get Started?

The first step is getting the Google Guarantee. It isn’t instant, though—the process can take as little as three and up to eight weeks, and it involves a background check for your employees and a verification of your licensing and insurance. You can set things up on your own or you can engage a Google Premier Partner agency like, Blue Corona.

If you’re interested in Local Services ads, but the program is not available in your area yet, sign up here to be notified when it is. Even if it isn’t available to you yet, I recommend you submit your application now since it can take so long to get approved. We wrote an in-depth article about Local Services that we keep updated, so check it out and be sure to check back regularly for updates.

There is a lot of misinformation out there on the web about Google Local Services ads. I hope this article cleared some things up for you, and if you don’t know where to get started, give me a call. I can help—I Google Guarantee it!

Ben Landers

Posted In: Sales & Marketing

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