The Definitive Guide to Google Local Service Ads for Painters
Brandon from Painter Marketing Pros here. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and are ready to get to work on making 2024 the most successful year yet for your painting company!
If you are ready to take your painting business to the next level, book a STRATEGY SESSION HERE with the painting industry’s leading marketing agency.
Now onto our regularly scheduled programming…Google Local Service Ads!
Local Service Ads for Painters
Do you currently use Google Local Service Ads for your painting business? If not, you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity for growth! In this Ultimate Guide to Local Service Ads for Painters, we will be covering everything you need to know to fully capitalize on Google LSAs for your painting business!
If you aren’t already familiar with Google Local Service Ads, they are the latest major tool introduced by Google to help local business owners connect with their ideal customers.
Painting Local Service Ads has Changed!
Unless you keep a close eye on the categories for Google’s Local Service Ads, you likely missed a change that is BIG NEWS for the painting industry!
For a while now Google has had specific categories for things such as housecleaning, landscaping and handyman services. Up until now, painting companies have primarily needed to use the handyman category to take advantage of LSAs.
However, after what seems like an eternity of waiting, a new category just appeared in the drop-down menu: PAINTING! If you aren’t taking advantage of it, you are likely missing out on some very hot leads.
The Significance of LSAs for Painters
You likely understand the importance of showing up high in organic search results and in the “map pack.” We know that many of you also hedge your search results bets with Google Ads.
If you’re already doing well with these tools, you might wonder whether you need to pay attention to this newer opportunity to rank high on Google search. The answer is a resounding YES, and there are at least three good reasons:
- LSAs offer the highest placement on Google searches, above even Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- LSAs have a flexible cost structure where you only pay per actual lead
- Being “Google Guaranteed” lends massive credibility!
Since the dawn of marketing, the quest has been the same: Appear first to the prospects looking for your service.
Back in the phone book days, the savviest marketers strategically named their businesses starting with numbers or multiple A’s so they would appear first when shoppers flipped the book (think yellowpages!) to painters.
Since then, shoppers have moved their searches online and businesses are no longer sorted alphabetically. Now you can name your business whatever you want without fear of getting lost in a sea of painting companies. But while the alphabetical rule went out the back door, many new rules came in the front.
In today’s digital world, marketers need to master keywords, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and reviews to ensure they land on the coveted first page — or even better for local services — the map pack. How are LSAs shaking things up in the ranking game? By showing up above all the positions you’ve fought for in the past: organic search results, the map pack and Google Ads. That is HUGE!
The digital world has always been a little obsessed with quantity — namely impressions and clicks. But the infatuation with quantity has many times left little in the way of quality.
Owners and marketers spend a lot of time worrying about “cost per click,” calculating “cost per conversion,” and wondering how much of the marketing budget went to bots, spam or bored homeowners mindlessly surfing the web while watching Netflix.
LSAs are ushering in a new era of quality. It’s no longer about the mighty click; now it’s about something much more tangible: the mighty lead.
With LSAs, you’ll only be charged when someone reaches out to you via phone, text or email. It’s a game changer for people who have failed to consistently convert site visitors to legitimate prospects and for those who have suffered a stream of garbage “traffic.”
Google charges you for a lead if you receive:
- An email or text.
- A voicemail.
- A call that you answer.
- A missed call (no voicemail) that you return in the app.
- A booking request.
When you sign up for LSAs, you can set your budget per week and per month, so you have control over your advertising spend based on leads not clicks. You can adjust the budget depending on your finances and your availability.
Additionally, if a “lead” comes through that is not legitimate (e.g. spam, or someone wanting an unrelated service), you can dispute that lead with Google and receive your money back. Painter Marketing Pros does this for all of our Local Service Ads partners every week!
Finally, reputable painting contractors have been competing against low-bid, low-quality, unlicensed competition for decades. However, LSAs are working to give legitimate contractors a leg up.
In order to qualify to run LSAs, you’ll need to submit verification of your business license (where applicable) and insurance and also submit to background checks for yourself and any field employees. In return, Google will give you a cool Google Guaranteed checkmark and back your work for up to $2,000.
It’s a great opportunity to offer the buyer security and your business credibility!
The Evolution of LSAs in Home Services
While the painting category is new, LSAs have been slowly infiltrating the marketing budgets of service companies for nearly a decade. Since 2015, when Google began selectively testing the program, there have been quite a few success stories. For example:
Gmaids in Houston takes pride in offering eco-friendly cleaning options to customers and a fair living wage and benefits to its employees. Owners Karen and Juan found that LSAs increased the time they had to develop and train their teams and the Google Guaranteed checkmark helped them prove they were a legit business.
Access Garage Doors hadn’t advertised in 10 years. Word of mouth about their quality service and products had kept plenty of business coming in. However, after using LSAs to market their services, the owner found that he could target more customers closer to the company’s headquarters, reducing driving time for the team and increasing the number of jobs they could do. He also found that the app made tracking communications, scheduling and getting reviews simple and consolidated.
And Painter Marketing Pros has found an astounding 20x+ return for many of the partners we run Local Service Ads for, based on our experience of how to best navigate the platform!
As the years rolled on, LSAs expanded to more locations and services. In spring 2023, Google announced it had expanded into 70+ industries. This announcement included the addition of the category “handyman,” which included interior and exterior painting in the service selections. It was the first time that painting could be marketed through LSAs, and we at Painter Marketing Pros felt happier than a kid in a candy store.
However, this still left a lot to be desired, as the painting businesses were labeled as “handyman” instead of “painter,” and there were no options for specialized painting services.
The addition of a painting-specific category means that painting companies can now market more than just interior/exterior painting services. Now businesses can specify cabinet painting, wallpaper removal, deck refinishing and more. This means better, more-specific leads and an easier dispute process when leads fall outside of those specific services.
For example, cabinet painters in the past would have had to use “interior painting,” as it was the closest option. That means they had to pay for every interior lead regardless of whether the homeowner wanted cabinets painted.
It should be noted that interior and exterior painting still reside under the handyman category, while specialty painting services reside under the painting category. We’ll cover how to handle this quirk below, but we’re also monitoring changes as the painting category develops. This category is also still not rolled out to every service area, but we are confident that it will be soon.
Even though things are still evolving for the category, this addition offers a very new and promising growth opportunity for painters.
Is Google LSA Ads Just Another Shared Lead Provider?
Shared lead providers have been a staple (bane?) in the marketing for many painting businesses for a long time, but there are some key differences between shared leads and LSA leads.
Method of contact — Shared leads come to you by way of contact information. The “lead” filling out the form doesn’t get to choose the businesses that reach out with estimates. The businesses receiving the leads are responsible for initiating the conversation, and since the leads are shared, more than one company gets the opportunity to reach out with sales calls. LSA leads, on the other hand, come directly to your painting company.
With LSAs, the “lead” is initiating a conversation with you. The possible customers can still contact multiple contractors to get a quote, but they are choosing the contractors they reach out to. Spam can be an issue with both systems, and we’ll discuss that more in the disputes section.
Quality of leads — We’ve all heard painting contractors complain about the poor lead quality of shared lead providers. Whether it’s someone who is just perusing or simply bad information, there is a margin of error that has come to be expected. With LSAs, the customer reaches out to your specific company, lowering the chances of a bad lead.
Price — Pricing varies, but generally speaking, the cost of LSA leads is now lower than that of many shared lead services.
Control over ad placements — The sheer number of users means Google can give better targeting options, allowing better specificity when advertisers are choosing locations and services to market.
How To Set Up LSAs for Painting Services
Setting up LSAs require a bit more work upfront to be approved than most digital marketing platforms. To be approved for LSAs, you’ll need to be Google Guaranteed, so plan for some due diligence. First you should make sure you are eligible.
Eligibility and what you will need:
- Proof of insurance.
- Business license (if it’s required by your state).
- Information for background checks on yourself and any field employees.
- Google reviews of your company.
- Google Business Profile and Google Ads Account.
- Google LSAs app.
If you don’t have a Google Business Profile, it’s time to set one up.
Creating a Google Business Profile
This is not only necessary for your LSAs, but also helps with getting reviews as well as improving your ranking for organic search and in the map pack.
- Sign into your business Google Account.
- Click “Create a Profile.”
- Enter your business name.
- Search for your business category.
- Indicate whether you have a location that customers can visit.
- Choose your service area.
- Enter your phone number and website URL.
- Click “Finish.”Follow the prompts to verify your business.
Visit here to learn all about setting up your Google Business Profile for Painters.
Completing your LSA application
Once you have your Google Business Profile completed, it’s time to start an LSA application. It can take a few weeks to get approved.
- Go to the Google LSA sign-up page:
- Check to see that LSAs are available in your area for your services:
- Enter your state and ZIP code.
- Enter painting or handyman as your category. As of the time of the writing of this article, services under the “handyman” category include interior painting and exterior painting. Services included under the “painting” category are cabinet painting, furniture painting, spray painting, wallpaper removal, door painting, gutter painting, stair painting and window painting. If both categories are available in your service area, then choose both for right now.
- Check to see that LSAs are available in your area for your services:
- Enter your company info:
- Company name
- Business registration name
- Business phone
- Business website
- Choose whether you want to include text and email as methods for customers to reach out to you. We suggest that you utilize both so you don’t miss the customers who are more comfortable communicating via text or email. This could increase the spam leads you get, but those can be disputed easily. Also, currently, these bill at half the price of a lead who calls you.
- Enter your company info:
- Enter the number of “field workers” in your company. This includes painters, estimators, foreman and crew leads — anyone who will be on-site at the project.
- Note the year your business was founded.
- Add your address information and whether customers can visit the location.
- Set your service area.
- Select your services.
- Certify that you have the required licenses for the services selected and click “next.”
- Office hours — take some time to think about this. Google only runs your ads during your stated office hours to ensure quick replies. You want your ads to run during the most likely times customers are searching painting services, but you also need to be available, as Google can lower your ranking if you don’t reply quickly.
- Review and approve your ad.
Verification and background checks
- Once you have approved your ad, complete the following:
- Background checks — Google will redirect you to Evident. Enter information on yourself and any field employees.
- Customer reviews — Here you can link previous reviews and send out a Google link to get reviews.
- Upload your proof of insurance.
- Fill out your business registration information.
- Set your budget and choose whether you want to maximize leads or set a cap on the lead price.
- Enter your billing information.
- Download the app so you are ready to accept calls and messages.
- Once you have approved your ad, complete the following:
Tips for setting up budget and bidding
At this early stage of LSAs in the painting industry, leads are sporadic and dependent on the region. We’ve found it’s rare that the full budget is spent every month, so don’t be too conservative when setting your budget. On the other hand, it is possible that your full budget will be spent, so don’t budget more than you can afford or for more leads than you can handle. To start off, we recommend setting a budget of around $100-$300 per week, and we are currently seeing lead prices range from $20 to $50.
Also optimize for the most leads. This means that you can’t set a cap on the most you want to spend on a lead, but we’ve seen better performance when businesses optimize this way.
Best Practices for Managing LSAs
Once you are approved, you’ll want to maximize your visibility. LSA visibility and success is all about taking the appropriate actions.
- Response time — If you receive a call, try to answer. If you can’t answer, be sure you return the call as quickly as possible, and do so in the LSA app. If you return the call from your cellphone or another phone, Google will not register that as a returned call, potentially dinging your reputation. The same goes for texts and emails — return the message in the app.
- Lead tracking — Be sure you mark all leads to “converted” or “archived.” This allows Google to learn more about the leads that work for you, giving you better leads in the long run.
- Disputes — Dispute leads that are spam, duplicates or outside your services or service area.
The ability to dispute leads helps keep your budget in check, minimizes spam and gives Google even more data. So far, Google has been very fair about disputes we’ve made for our partner companies, with nearly 100% of disputes being approved.
You can dispute leads if:
- The prospect is looking for work you don’t do.
- You don’t serve their area.
- It’s spam.
- It’s a solicitor.
- It’s a duplicate.
Now there are some tricky areas where leads CANNOT be disputed. This is not an all-inclusive list, but it includes the scenarios that are most relevant to painters.
- Someone calls for painting advice — sorry, everyone!
- A meeting is booked, but then cancelled.
- They are only researching a project.
- They ghosted you when you called back.
- Your profile information lists a service area or service you don’t provide and then you get leads based on that information.
- They request a job that is smaller than you want, but still technically relevant to the services and service area you listed. Don’t dispute these!
To dispute a lead, do so within 30 days. Go to your dashboard, select the lead you want to dispute, choose dispute, name a reason and add any notes. Remember, Painter Marketing Pros does this for all of our LSA Partners every single week!
Understanding and utilizing ranking factors
There are only three spots for companies to show up in the LSA section. There are a few important factors when it comes to ranking high on LSAs: Applicability, Responsiveness and Ratings.
So how do you make sure you are in one of those three spots when prospects search painting services in your area?
- Applicability — Include all the areas that you work in and the services you provide. Regularly check for updates of categories and services, as Google does not announce all of these.
- Responsiveness — Use the best practices for managing your leads noted above: fast response time, regular management of leads and pertinent only disputes.
- Ratings — Google recommends having at least five reviews. However, it’s not a bad idea to research the companies showing up in a search for painting in your area. For instance, a search for painters in Boulder, Colorado, reveals two contractors — one with 283 reviews and one with 161. Don’t get overwhelmed. Just get those reviews one at a time, consistently. Painter Marketing Pros can assist with Review Generation.
Strategies for gathering and managing reviews
Reviews are not only important for your reputation but also give you important information about where you excel and where you fall short.
Asking for reviews definitely feels awkward, but it’s important to build this into your process nevertheless.
Options available range from technologies that specialize only in reviews to CRMs and estimating software that include automations for getting reviews. Google LSAs even has an option in the app to ask for reviews!
Also make sure your reviews are happening on the Google platform by using the “review” links that Google provides. It’s worth double checking periodically to ensure your reviews are showing up properly.
Keeping business information updated and accurate
Regularly check your information and for new features offered by Google LSAs. If you add a new service, update it. If you expand into a new territory, update it. Allocate time to research updates for categories or services. When “painter” was added to the categories, there was no big announcement. The people who cashed in on that opportunity fastest were the ones paying close attention, so make sure that either your company or your marketing agency stays on top of everything!
Analyzing and Optimizing LSA Performance
LSAs don’t offer a ton of data — just basic information about the leads you get. However, you should still calculate your cost per conversion and compare that to the other marketing strategies you are using to maximize your overall marketing spend.
If you find that your leads are dropping, that’s a good indicator that you need to look at your management process for leads. This is a competition. That means that you can keep everything the same and still see a decline. It might mean that other painting companies in your area have leveled up and now you need to do even better.
Sometimes the speed of evolution in digital marketing can feel overwhelming, but it’s an extremely important piece of managing and growing your painting business. Your team is counting on you to keep the business coming in.
Want to grow your painting business?
If marketing is overwhelming you or you haven’t found a formula that works, you have a partner in Painter Marketing Pros. We specialize in marketing for painting companies and can help you get more leads, boost your revenue and grow your bottom line.
As the painting industry’s marketing leader, we would be happy to review your marketing plan in a complimentary strategy session. Feel free to BOOK YOUR STRATEGY SESSION HERE
We look forward to massive growth for your painting company in 2024 and beyond!
About The Author
Brandon Pierpont is the Founder of Painter Marketing Pros and Host of the popular podcast series “The Painter Marketing Mastermind”. He is also a two-time published author, having written “The Sales System Playbook for Painting Contractors” as well as “Painting Millions”, a #1 Amazon Best Seller. Brandon is a regular contributor to inPAINT Magazine, appearing in their “Ask A Pro” section.
Brandon has helped well over 100 painting companies across North America professionalize their sales and marketing and scale their business. Prior to founding Painter Marketing Pros, Brandon built and successfully sold a mobile auto detailing business. In addition to marketing expertise, Brandon has extensive financial and operational experience, having previously worked in investment banking, private equity, and as CFO of a software company. He utilizes that experience to ensure painting contractors achieve high ROI on their marketing and scale profitably.
Brandon proudly serves on the Painting Contractor Association’s Marketing Committee, Education Committee, and Bureau of Speakers, and he is an active contributor to many of the PCA’s Live Events. He is also a proud member of the FL Army National Guard.