Evan Ilgenfritz: “LSAs, can be seen as an extension of, and support, of your standard paid search efforts, but they do function very differently. It’s almost entirely based upon proximity, relevance, and your Google My Business profile.”
On this episode of ignite, Cardinal CEO, Alex Membrillo, and Director of Paid Media, Evan Ilgenfritz explore what Local Services Ads are and how they differ from traditional Google Ads. LSAs offer a unique opportunity for healthcare groups to secure prime real estate on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and stand out in a crowded digital landscape.
The two unravel the process of checking healthcare practice eligibility for LSAs and the verification process by Google and share valuable tips for building a robust strategy around Google Business Profile for LSAs. You’ll learn how healthcare marketers can harness the power of call analytics data to gain valuable insights and further optimize their LSAs. From enhancing online visibility to delivering a stellar patient experience, these tips are sure to help healthcare groups thrive in the digital realm.
Announcer: Welcome to The Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.
Alex Membrillo: What’s going on, everybody? This is going to be fun. You know I always say it’s going to be fun, but this is going to be different because it’s going to be innovative. We’ve never talked LSAs, and I’m learning new acronyms all the time. LSAs, these are new to healthcare. Let’s welcome Evan Ilgenfritz to Ignite.
Evan Ilgenfritz: How’s it going, everyone? Good to be here. Happy to talk about LSAs.
Alex: Did I pronounce it right? Ilgenfritz?
Evan: You did. That’s correct.
Alex: I fucking did it. All right, good. Very exciting. We’re off to a good start, guys. All right, what’s an LSA?
Evan: An LSA is an acronym for local service ads that Google offers, which is a pretty cool offering. Specifically for healthcare, it hasn’t been available. If we look back at the history of LSAs, they’ve been going five to eight years now, but it started with home service stuff. That would be HVAC, plumbing, house cleaning. Those are the kind of services where LSA started, and it’s been steadily expanding to do verticals and new services over time. Thankfully, now, in the past year or so, it’s been opening up to healthcare verticals.
Alex: Okay. It’s the picture ad at the top of Google, right?
Evan: Let’s talk about what it is. It shows up on the Google search results page. Just like a search ad, however, this shows up at the very top. If you’re familiar with shopping ads that populate at the top, LSAs will show up at the top as well. It’s the first thing. That’s kind of one of the benefits to LSAs is, for one thing, search ads will still show. They will show below the LSAs, but LSAs always have that top spot.
It looks like a service recommendation. It’ll say Google verified. It has business names and what services they offer and a Google My Business star rating. That’s the first thing you’ll see is at the top of the results page is this list of different vendors you can choose from. You scroll a little bit deeper, you’ll of course see the standard page search ads, but if you click on the LSA, that’s where things get interesting. It opens up kind of an entire experience.
It looks like an expanded Google My Business map pack situation where now you’ve got the ability to cycle through what are the services they offer, where are they located? There’s photos at the top. It takes up a lot of great real estate and it lets people kind of dive into the details of your business. The biggest benefit here is that you don’t pay for that engagement, right? The only thing you pay for with LSAs is a lead. In this instance, it’s going to be phone calls. That’s the primary backbone of LSAs is phone calls.
Alex: Okay. No way to submit a form or online booking?
Evan: There is. Not for healthcare. Google is wanting to be very HIPAA compliant. There’s a few distinctions about how it works within the healthcare space. Message components of it are a thing, not for healthcare for reasons they don’t want to collect that data, but phone calls are. Again, if someone types in a primary care physician near me, it can populate the LSAs at the top. They can click on it. There’s your ad. It shows a picture of the business. They can scroll through reviews, all this information, and then they can click to call. That is when the lead begins.
Alex: The keys here, and real quick, guys, if you’re listening in healthcare services, these are the following that have LSAs now. Allergy, chiropractors, dermatology, dieticians, ophthalmologists and optometry, orthodontists, physical therapists, podiatrists, and PCPs. Okay. That’s where it’s available now. The keys here are, I guess, to show up as close to position one, which is all the way to the left and have good reviews. Right? The picture ad, the LSA has reviews right underneath picture.
Evan: That’s right.
Alex: That’s pulling from GMB.
Evan: It is. That’s a great point. It’s interesting. LSAs, they can be seen as an extension of and support of your standard paid search efforts, but they do function very differently. It’s almost entirely based upon proximity, relevance, and your Google My Business profile. We’ve worked with several different groups. For example, a dental group, they can have a variety of locations, maybe dozens. Right?
If you want to test into LSAs, you tend to want to select and start with locations that have a substantial number of reviews and a good score, good engagement.
Alex: You can select the locations you want?
Evan: Within LSA?
Evan: You set up an account and then you would establish the LSAs running for each location. To get back to the main point about Google My Business, it is, that’s your bid. You can say how much you want to pay for a lead potentially, and you have a weekly budget. There aren’t optimizations to get you in better position outside of improving your Google My Business profile for that location.
Alex: If your reviews suck, you’re screwed. It is key to have a review solicitation program, so that’s step one here. Then it’s a bidding thing, I assume. Whoever bids higher and is closer to the searcher gets position one?
Evan: Yes. It’s an interesting thing. Google plays this close to the vest a bit. It is, there are a standard bid typically for different service lines and geographies. You might get fewer leads if you’re willing to pay less, but it doesn’t really get into a bid, if you kind of hit the right bid where the average falls for, say, Atlanta, Georgia PCP, you would be showing up just as often. It’ll be more so based on your Google My Business success.
Alex: How very interesting. Okay. Do you recommend, if this is available, this is a cost per lead situation, so you’re not paying CPCs every time someone clicks.
Evan: That’s right.
Alex: This is just on lead.
Evan: That’s right. It’s only on leads.
Alex: Have you seen with dental, is it cost efficient?
Evan: Yes. We’re testing it now. It just depends on what the expectation is and what the cost may be in your market for that vertical.
Alex: I’m wondering if the leads are cheaper through LSA, cheaper and better through LSAs or PPC, like straight up search.
Evan: That’s a great thing. I think we would broadly recommend testing. Let’s talk a bit, I guess, about the distinctions of LSA in healthcare. If we go back, roll back the clock again, originally, like I said, they did HVAC, plumbing, that kind of stuff. They would in the LSA platform, which is a separate platform where you set everything up, it would populate leads in there. You can listen to the calls and you could dispute them if they weren’t, in fact, leads.
That’s unfortunately not the case for healthcare because, again, of the HIPAA policy and privacy concerns that they do not, Google does not record the calls. The good benefit is that in this, for healthcare, we recommend you really shouldn’t do LSAs if you don’t have a call tracking solution. That would be Callbox is a good option. We use line as well. These are ones, so that way, Google might not record the lead for you, but you can absolutely record and listen to it in your call tracking solution and gauge how successful it is.
Alex: Don’t use Google’s whatever phone tracking thing that they assign.
Evan: That’s right.
Alex: Use your own platform.
Evan: Basically, the only thing Google will charge you for a lead and that lead will be to Google standards, 60 seconds call duration or longer.
Alex: Okay. Is that how you optimize the call analytics for LSAs? Is there any other levers to pull?
Evan: There really aren’t at this time. It’s all going to be about assessment of the quality on the backend using your call tracking solution to ensure that the lead quality and efficiency is meeting the standards that you’re requiring from your other channels.
Alex: You would recommend this in addition to, this is crazy because it’s really pushing down organic even further. Now you’ll have LSAs, PPC text ads, maps, and then SEO below it and getting any results below it.
Evan: That’s right.
Alex: Wow. Okay. The good thing is it makes reviews, solicitate reviews that much more important. JMB is now more important. That’s good for SEO guys and women out there, but yes, it is pushing things down. Okay. What else does the crew need to hear about LSAs? You have to get verified?
Evan: You do. Let’s talk about that. You do. To get stood up on LSA, you need to work with Google. They have a pretty standard authorization and verification process. They call it verified by Google. When you set this up, Google will take you through a process, typically includes getting a background check of the business owner or business manager and any required relevant licensing, it should be a quick check.
The good news is let’s, again, I’m going to use a dental group as an example. If there’s a group that has let’s say 50 locations and they’re all branded the same thing, you get grand, you get bulk approval. You just go through the approval process and then they can just, then you don’t have to do it again for every other location.
Alex: Got it. One time background check.
Evan: That’s right. Now, if there’s distinct locations that may be, if it’s a dental group that are all retaining their same brand names and they’re not quite the same, then you may have to go through individual approvals.
Alex: They’re individually LLC or something like that.
Evan: That’s right.
Alex: Okay. Well, good thing we don’t need background checks for me to be on LSA. All right. What else? Anything else they need to hear about? They say you’re excited about our caution tales.
Evan: I think it’s very exciting for the healthcare vertical. I think we all know that HIPAA policy and privacy are becoming more and more important. We’ve seen, in some instances, people are wary of using pixels on their website to collect or potentially expose a sensitive user healthcare information. The good news about this is that it avoids it, right? This is another solution to augment and support your existing search efforts and to collect leads through call tracking. It’s a good avenue. It kind of bolsters what you’re doing on the search engine results page and helps you get another thing up and running that is not in compliance issues with pixels or healthcare.
Alex: Got it. To get around all of the pixel situation that we’re dealing with, with all of our clients. That’s a nice thing. It’s bolting on a different model. It’s cost per lead instead of cost per click, which is nice. Guys, the neat thing here is this has been rolled out in other verticals outside of healthcare. It’s not like a whole new ad unit. We don’t know if it’s worth the time. Like it worked in those verticals well enough to roll out into healthcare. This is very cool. People want easy solutions. That’s why they go to Zocdoc.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to book an appointment. It’s easy to get an appointment, ’cause they have them all staggered there. Another tool for the toolbox. We love new ad units. This is fun. Evan, thanks for joining us on Ignite.
Evan: Thanks for having me.[music]
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