Google Answers Some Local Listing Ad Questions

Picture 19The newly announced Local listing ads are starting to appear on a limited basis in the wilds of San Francisco. David Mihm, the talented Local Search Expert, and I submitted a number of questions about this new trial to Google.

What will the range of prices be for a given market and category?
Will the pricing be transparent to all, across all markets?

Regarding your pricing questions:
Since various industries have different levels of saturation and search popularity by business category and location, those are the factors upon which we decided to base our variable flat fees. Part of this beta is testing the pricing structure and trying to find a good balance between advertiser ROI and flat fees. That being the case, please understand that we’re not able to share the range of flat fees.

Will the business be allowed to advertise in more than 1 category?

Picture 20Regarding your category questions:
We’re only announcing an initial version of the beta at this time, so advertisers are currently only able to choose one category. As we continue to develop this product, this may change. Ad placement per category is currently determined on a rotating basis. However, we’re constantly testing new ad formats and placements, and we may make changes and refinements to our current experiment in the future.

How long is the test period?

Regarding your rollout questions:
As you know, Local Listing Ads are currently only available to businesses located in San Francisco and San Diego. There is no set testing period for gathering feedback and data, but we can’t speculate on future product development or roll out.

Will these ads get a set amount of “square footage” on the screen, or will they push national advertisers’ standard Adwords largely off the page for geo?
Will the price have a relationship to the adwords pricing and will that relationship be transparent?

Picture 21Regarding your placement questions:
Local Listing Ads may appear either above the organic search results or on the right hand side of, or in the left panel of Google Maps. When they appear above the organic search results on, up to 4 ads may be shown. When they appear on the right hand side on, up to 4 ads may be shown. And on Google Maps, one ad may be shown for any given query. Please keep in mind, however, that we’re constantly testing new placements, and we may choose to make changes to the current experiment in the future. Also, Local Listing Ads do not compete in the auction and instead are slotted in new ad inventory spots that have been created on Google search results pages and Google Maps.

What type of support structure will be in place for businesses who have trouble setting this up? Will it be managed through the LBC Help Forums or will there be a dedicated person or team to handle inquiries?

Regarding your support questions:
Advertisers who sign up for Local Listing Ads will be able to contact us, and Help Center content is also available here:

Below are a list of the questions that were asked but not answered directly and some additional questions that have cropped up:

– How many businesses in each category will be allowed to use this service at the same time? For instance, what if 50 plumbing contractors all want to advertise on “san francisco plumbers”?

-How long will the price remain fixed and when it does change what will the procedure be?

-How will placement be determined in competitive markets?

-Will categorization be limited to the existing categories or will it allow for long tail catogorizaton?

And as you know all well know for every answer more questions propagate like rabbits:

-It appears that pricing is independent of Adwords, does that mean that their could be a significant differential either above or below the Adwords bidding range?

-Is it conceivable or possible that an advertiser might participate in both programs?

-Are the changes that are being seen in the Local Universal results and local Adwords being done in preparation for this new product?

I am sure that you have questions as well. Please send them along.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Answers Some Local Listing Ad Questions by

15 thoughts on “Google Answers Some Local Listing Ad Questions”

  1. Hey Mike,

    I don’t see the answer to my biggest question which is why doesn’t the “Ads” tab appear in the LBC for certain categories (Plastic Surgery) for one.


  2. It is not clear to me that the ads that we are seeing are being created with a public interface in the LBC. I am inquiring but have yet to get an answer.

  3. Mike,

    How about this for a question….is it worth it to change your LBL to show one of Google’s predetermined categories (far more generic and broad) rather than keeping your own keyword driven category. For instance….does it make sense that I would ditch out categories for say a roof contractor with the following 5 category setup:
    1.) Roof Repair
    2.) Roof Leak
    3.) Roofing Company
    4.) Roofing Companies
    5.) Roofing

    when Google only recognizes: “Roofing Contractor” as a category within their own taxonomy? From what I saw when I was toying with the eligibility of some of my San Diego clients I noticed that it was requesting that you change your categories within your LBL itself in order to accommodate the stipulations in creating an ad. My question is this…since Google will only allow you to use an ad in one category (i.e. Roofing Contractors) would you be allowed to keep your other categories within your LBL for the benefit of showing up on the map? Or…would Google ask that you change your LBL to just one category so that you can proceed with the ad being placed on SERP? I apologize about the length of this question. Thanks for all you do Mike!


    1. @J
      I believe that it is. I think that it is important that Google understands the taxonomy of your business. Fitting yourself into one very broad category gives them finite clues as to where you belong in general. They would allow you to keep the other categories and you could continue to show on those searches in so far as your ranking allows.

  4. I am saying that it is possible that it is an experiment that is not yet open to everyone in San Fran and San Diego. It may be open by invitation or perhaps Google is just testing layouts to see what actually works then will open the test.

    Nobody to the best of my knowledge has seen the tab in the LBC.

  5. If there is a limited amount of businesses per category, per location allowed to participate, I have to see Google moving the pricing back towards an auction style of bidding. Our clients are already asking how to lock down those ad spots and are willing to pay a premium to make sure they are included in the program. This attitude from them makes me believe we are going to see more saturation of the top of Google’s results by the businesses with the best search marketing teams. If you can have four listings on Google’s first page instead of three, that makes your business appear even more authoritative than before.

    1. In conversations Google is concerned with a reasonable return per lister and not exclusivity. It sounded as if they would rotate displays. Even so, you are right that some will get plenty crowded and what then? Perhaps Google will force a choice between Adwords and Local Listing Ads?

      Where small business fears to tread, SEO’s jump in?

  6. I was wondering if one of you could give me some information with regards to Google Maps. Currently when I do Google search for our business “Merrill, WI Chevy Dealerships” our location shows up just fine under google maps as well as one of our competitors in Wausau, WI . This is great, but our business also serves Wausau, WI and when I do a search for Wausau Chevy dealerships in Wausau, WI only the the competitors site shows up in Google Maps. I want our business to show up as well when performing a search on Google when searching Wausau, WI Chevrolet Dealerships. I have looked all over and I can’t seem to find out how to do this. Any ideas

    1. Google has recently implemented service area radius as a setting in the Local Business Center. You need to first set the correct radius there. If it still does not show up then you need to improve the standing of your listing by improving its on-line presence

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