A Dentist's Guide to Getting Started With Local Service Ads (LSAs)
by Tyson Downs
You likely know that local advertising is incredibly important for dental practices. You may even be investing in Google Ads already.
But did you know that a newer Google Ad program called Local Service Ads can increase your reach, and you’ll only pay for qualified leads, AND Google will create the ads for you?
The good news is that there is! We’re talking about Google Local Service Ads or LSAs. At Titan Web Agency, we work with dentists to help them achieve their practice growth goals. LSAs are a powerful tool for dentists because they help increase your practice visibility by allowing you to appear at the top of Google’s search results. If done right, you’ll get qualified leads to grow your practice.
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We’ve created this guide to help you set up and optimize LSAs, enabling you to outperform your competitors and achieve your goals.
Understanding Local Service Ads for Dentists
Let’s start with an overview of Google Local Service Ads and how they work.
What Are Local Service Ads?
Local Service Ads are a form of online advertising with Google-generated ads. They’re available to certain types of businesses, including healthcare providers and dentists. There’s a fairly involved process to getting approved for Local Service Ads, which we will discuss shortly.
Here’s one way that Local Service Ads will show up in the search results of Google:
How Do LSAs Differ from Traditional PPC Ads?
Here is the most basic overview of pay-per-click ads:
When you run a pay-per-click (PPC) ad, you only pay for it when someone clicks on it. To run PPC ads on Google, you bid on your keywords. Your ads appear when someone searches your keyword and if your bid is high enough. There’s a ton of customization you can do with local service ads, including dynamic ads (having Google generate ads based on keywords), bid modifies (bid higher or lower based on the query, location, device, time, etc.), negative keywords (don’t show up if somebody types in a certain term even if they typed in your main term), etc.
LSAs are different. You don’t need to research keywords or bid on them. You’ll go through an approval process with Google. Once approved, Google will generate ads for you based on the conditions you treat, your area, your reviews, your feedback on the leads you receive, and your budget.
These ads appear only to people in your local area, and you pay only if you get a lead from the ad. A lead is a prospective patient who calls or messages you or books an appointment through the ad.
It’s important to note that you can dispute leads in certain cases, as mentioned below.
Location not served
Service not offered
Google also regularly reviews leads and credits any identified invalid leads. If you can’t find a lead that you want to dispute, it’s possible that it has already been credited or was never charged.
The Significance of LSAs for Local Dental Practices
Every small practice in the country has to find a way to compete with big national DSOs. They have a huge advantage in brand recognition and more money to spend than local practices.
With LSAs, you can get your name to the top of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for dentists in your area. When potential patients are looking for a dentist, your name will be one of the first they see.
You may be wondering, well, I already rank well in the Google local results, why do I need to do Google Local Service Ads.
Think about it this way:
If Google is going to show an LSA for somebody, wouldn’t you rather it be you than a competitor? There’s certainly nothing wrong with showing up for your Google business listing AND an LSA!
The Benefits of LSAs for Dentists
Local service ads offer distinct advantages that can help dentists increase brand awareness and attract potential patients. Here are the most important benefits demonstrating why you should start with LSAs.
- Increased visibility in local searches. If a potential patient doesn’t see your ad, they won’t know about your practice, and they won’t make an appointment. Because LSAs appear at the top of Google’s SERP, you can be sure that your ad will be seen.
- Building trust through Google’s screening process. Google requires dental practices to undergo a screening process to be featured in LSAs. The process provides legitimacy to your practice. People who see local service ads understand that Google verifies the featured businesses, making them more likely to book an appointment.
- You give Google more reasons to trust your business regarding local search. This is a theory, but if you have gone through the Google screening process and given Google all that information about your practice and doctors, that can only help with the organic search results. I’m not saying it will increase your rankings, but it certainly isn’t a bad thing that Google understands your business and trusts it more.
- Cost-effectiveness and ROI. LSAs differ from PPC ads in that you pay only if you get an actual lead due to your ad. That means someone has to call or message your office or book an appointment, which can make LSAs more cost-effective than traditional PPC ads and has the potential to increase your return on investment.
- Diversification of marketing spend. Yes, you are still spending money with Google, and yes, you are still paying for Ads. That said, they are much different, and at this point, they’ve shown to be less competitive. Should something change in your traditional Google Ad campaigns, you could shift marketing dollars to LSAs if needed.
Results may vary depending on your competition, your services, reviews, etc. Regardless of those factors, we’re confident that being featured in LSAs will help you attract new patients and increase your profits.
Approval Process for Local Service Ads for Dentists
When applying to run local service ads for dentists, you’ll be asked to submit a fair amount of information, and need to wait to be approved.
- Valid Business License: Your dental practice must hold a valid business license in the state you operate.
- Dental License: You’ll need to provide an active dental license and expiration for each dentist.
- General Liability Insurance: Having active general liability insurance is mandatory.
- Professional Liability Insurance (Malpractice): You must upload proof of malpractice insurance (minimum $250k in coverage).
- National Provider Identifier (NPI): All dentists require an active NPI for verification.
- Minimum Google Reviews: Depending on your location, you might be required to have a minimum number of Google reviews (a specific number not publicly disclosed).
- Google conducts background checks on businesses and their owners through a third-party service such as Evident ID.
- This verifies your criminal, legal, and professional history, demonstrating trustworthiness.
- Be prepared to submit other relevant details such as contact information, service areas, business hours, and other attributes.
- Ensure your Google Business Profile is complete, accurate, and optimized fully.
Approval Process Timeline:
- The approval process typically takes a few weeks but can vary depending on your location and any complexities arising during verification.
Tips for a Smooth Approval:
- Start early: Initiate the process well in advance, especially if you anticipate delays.
- Gather all necessary documents: Have all required licenses, insurance documents, and NPI information readily available.
- Maintain a positive online reputation: Encourage patients to leave positive reviews on your Google Business Profile.
- Consider professional help: Marketing agencies specializing in LSAs can offer valuable guidance and expertise.
Setting Up Your Local Service AdsGetting set up for Google Local Service Ads can be a bit tricky. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow, with a few tips to help you complete the Google screening and verification process.
- Claim your business on Google. If you haven’t already done so, look for your dental practice on Google Maps and claim it. You’ll need to provide Google with proof that you’re the business owner.
- Sign up for Local Service Ads. Click on this link to sign up for local service ads.
- Fill out the questionnaire. You’ll be asked for the doctors you want to appear in the ads, the radius within which to display them, the conditions treated, etc.
- Add license and insurance information. Google will require you to provide information about your business license and insurance.
- Complete a background check. Google requires any business featured in LSAs to pass a background check on the business, its owner, and any doctors. These checks are free and provided by one of two carriers, Pinkerton or Evident.
We suggest gathering all necessary information ahead of time to streamline the process. That means checking your license and insurance are up-to-date, gathering employee information for background checks, etc.
When you create your LSA profile, make sure to be thorough. Add pictures of the doctors and their schooling/education, and be sure to select all the conditions treated. Don’t skip any fields. The more information you add, the easier it will be for Google to create ads (and for prospective patients to choose you over your competitors.)
When you log in, this is what your dashboard will look like. (Keep that contact number handy; you will likely need it in the future.)
Optimizing Your LSA for Maximum Impact
While Google will create the actual ads for you, filling out your profile completely lets you ensure you give Google maximum flexibility in what and when to show your ads.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Choose the right service types for your practice. You have an opportunity to highlight your areas of expertise, the list of services (referred to as conditions treated) you can select for your dental local search ads includes:
- Bad breath, cavities, chipped tooth, cracked tooth, crowns, dental checkup, dental implants, dentures, dry mouth, fillings, gum bleeding, gum disease, missing teeth evaluation, mouth sores, other, root canal, sealants, teeth cleaning, tooth decay, tooth infection, tooth pain, tooth sensitivity, tooth extraction
- Set the right budget. Google allows businesses to set an average weekly budget and a monthly maximum. Google will never exceed your monthly maximum.
- Respond quickly to inquiries and requests. Make sure to respond quickly and be as helpful as possible when leads call or message you.
- Add photos. I’m not sure why, but Google seems inconsistent on when to show photos for LSAs. Add as many photos of your office as you have.
- Request and manage your reviews. Reviews play a role in Google’s calculation of your LSA Ad Rank. Encourage patients to leave reviews, and make sure you monitor and reply to them.
- Follow up on all leads. Remember, these people had a need and called and said - I WANT HELP. Follow up with them several times. You never know what’s going on in their life. If it is not a good time, they’ll let you know.
It can be a bit confusing, especially if you are waiting on a background check or verification of documents. In our experience, they didn’t always get back to us that something was complete or that they needed something else, and we had to manually call or ‘chat’ to keep things moving. At any point, you can log in to your dashboard, and on the left, click on the ‘hamburger menu’, then click ‘Profile and Budget’ and edit info, (add pics, add documents, etc).
Measuring the Success of Your LSAs
Google makes it easy for you to view analytics of your LSAs. To access analytics and create reports, click your Local Service Ads inbox, tap the menu button, and tap Reports. You’ll need to specify the period for your report, and then you’ll be able to see:
- The number of charged leads in the period
- The total amount you were charged
- A list of all leads you received
- The number of bookings and your booking rate
- The amount of disputed lead credits you received
For most dental practices, the biggest concern is the return on investment of your local ads. You want to know how much money you’re earning compared to how much you spend. One thing you will want to do is to have a call tracking number added so you can track all the calls to your ad, not just the mobile calls.
For this client, they show up 100% of the time that the LSAs are shown and are the top result 99.81% of the time. They’ve received 15 leads on a spend of $795. While this is a bit more per lead than they are paying with traditional Google Ads, the office will need to determine the types of cases it is bringing in vs the types of cases they are getting from PPC Google Ads. It’s imperative always to review your data and ROAS (return on ad spend) so you know what is working. The lead tracking that we provide to our clients allows them to see exactly where their leads are coming from and for our clients to determine if it is a good or bad lead (quotable or not quotable). See below:
You may need to tweak your LSA profile if you’re not getting the desired results. For example, it might be a clue that you need to list more services or highlight special things that set your practice apart from others in your area. (That’s the ‘bio’ section that I mentioned previously and that you can see below)
Common Challenges and Solutions When Setting Up LSA's for Dentists
LSAs aren’t difficult to use, the most difficult part is getting approved to run them and working with Google support if you run into an issue! 😀
However, there are still areas where dentists may need assistance. Here are some of the most common issues we see, along with some ideas for resolving them.
- Your budget is too low. You’ll need a budget high enough to generate the leads you want. You might need to add to your budget if your conversion rates are low. Google will suggest a budget and a minimum budget, along with the estimate of leads for your budget.
- Your profile is incomplete. Profiles that are missing information are unlikely to perform well in LSAs. Ensure your services and specialties are all included and that other information about your practice is up-to-date.
- You need to adjust your bid strategies. Google recommends choosing the Maximize Leads option, which will get you the most possible leads for your budget.
- Your area (radius) is too narrow). You will want to consider perhaps expanding the zip codes you are targeting. Look at your existing patients, see where they are coming from, and determine what additional zip codes make sense.
- You aren’t reporting back to Google good leads vs. bad leads. Reporting back each week allows Google to learn the characteristics of good leads and bad leads, plus it saves you money, as you don’t have to pay for bad leads!
If you need help with this, let us know. We’re experienced in setting and running Google Local Service Ads for dentists and can likely help you improve your results.
Make the Most of Your LSAs
Do you need a hand optimizing your Google Local Service Ads? Schedule a free consultation today by clicking the link below–and if you have experiences with LSAs, please share them in the comments!
About the Author
Tyson Downs is the founder of Titan Web Agency, a company specializing in marketing for dental professionals. With an impressive track record of working with over 100 dental practices, Tyson has a deep understanding of the unique marketing needs within the dental industry. His expertise has helped numerous dental practices flourish by meeting and surpassing their revenue goals and established him as a thought leader in healthcare marketing. His insights and strategies have been featured in esteemed dental publications, including the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Before dedicating his career to helping dental professionals thrive through effective marketing, Tyson honed his skills in SEO and web design as a freelancer, while also gaining valuable experience in the corporate sector. As an alumnus of Brigham Young University, he brings a strong educational background to his entrepreneurial endeavors. Outside of his professional life, Tyson is a devoted father of five, who cherishes time spent with his family, especially when they're all enjoying America's pastime on the baseball field.