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Lower Lead Costs by Disputing Unqualified Leads in Local Services Ads

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This article describes how you can save significant money by disputing unqualified leads you may receive from Google’s Local Services Ads (aka Google Guaranteed).

Why Is This Important?

Your business can receive high quality leads from Google Local Services Ads (LSA). Even better, you only pay for the leads when Google knows the lead is qualified (a qualified lead is a phone call from someone in your service area looking for a service you offer).

Sounds great! However, by default Google will charge you for nearly all leads because Google relies on you as the business owner (or one of your employees) to tell them when a lead is unqualified.  

When you tell Google a lead is unqualified this is called ‘disputing’ the lead. If your dispute is successful then Google will issue a credit so that you will not be charged for that lead.

You may frequently receive unqualified leads – especially if you work in an industry where Google’s system shows your ad to related services (e.g. for drywall contractors Google shows your ads for general handyman services). If you dispute these leads, your cost per lead can be affordable. If you don’t dispute them, you will lose money on unqualified leads and your cost per lead can be unsustainable.

This Article Has Two Sections

Follow the links based on your needs:

How Do I Dispute Unqualified Leads?

Appeal a Dispute Denial from Google (click here if you already disputed a lead but Google denied the dispute)

How Do I Dispute Unqualified Leads?

Local Services Ads help you receive calls from people who search on Google for your services.

Google ONLY charges you for qualified calls under this program; however, Google’s system is not perfect and Google sometimes charges for calls that are unqualified. Google relies on the business owner to review and dispute non-qualified calls within 30 days in order to be credited back charges for unqualified leads.

Step 1: Understand What Google Considers An Unqualified Lead

Google considers a qualified call to be a customer seeking information about a service you provide in an area you serve.

Here are the types of unqualified calls you can dispute, as shown in Google’s documentation:

Dispute categoryExamples
Location not servedThe customer communicated their location, the location wasn’t listed on your profile, and you declined the job.
Service not offeredThe customer communicated their service type, the service wasn’t listed on your profile, and you declined the job. Caller was looking for a physical store, or looking to buy something other than a service (for example, parts).
Duplicate leadThe customer called to follow up on an existing lead for the same job within 15 days, and both the leads were charged.
SolicitationCall was from a wrong number. Caller was trying to sell you a product or service. Call was from someone seeking employment at your business.
SpamCall was pre-recorded. Call was otherwise not from a live human.

Step 2 (Method 1): Use the App to Dispute Qualified Leads

Some business owners find it easy to use the Local Services Ads app to dispute unqualified calls immediately after they receive them.

  1. Install the app from the Google Play store or the Apple App store (links via Google here).
  2. Login with the Google account that has access to your Local Services Ads account.
  3. View calls (leads) in the app and select ‘Dispute’ to dispute an unqualified call.

Step 2 (Method 2): Use the Website

Some business owners find it easy to use the website to dispute unqualified calls within the first 30 days of receiving them.

  1. Sign in to your Local Services Ads lead inbox.
  2. Select the menu icon on the top left.
  3. Select Leads from the menu.
  4. Find and select the lead you’d like to dispute.
  5. Choose Dispute.
  6. Choose the reason why your lead is invalid.
  7. Add any additional details to the “Your notes” section on the lead.

Tips

  • In some regions your Local Services Ad may rank better if you are active within your Local Services Ads dashboard. Specifically, this means you dispute unqualified leads, and you mark leads as booked or not booked.
  • Google is strict about which lead disputes they approve, and the majority of the time they abide by their policies and issue credits readily. If a dispute is denied, there is a process to appeal the dispute, however it can be lengthy and is often not successful. We advise business owners to weigh the cost of the lead vs the effort required to appeal a dispute.
  • Google tracks how often you answer the phone when someone calls from your ad. We advise business owners to answer the phone as often as possible.

Final Note

If you’re in an industry where Local Services Ads creates many unqualified leads it can be frustrating to receive these leads as phone calls, much less to be charged for them. Unfortunately as of this writing, that’s the ‘cost of doing business’ for Local Service Ads in some industries: putting up with the hassle of answering the phone for unqualified leads and disputing those leads if you receive them.

For many business owners the quality leads they receive from Local Services Ads is worth the investment of time to dispute unqualified leads. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I receive unqualified calls?

In some industries, for example drywall repair services, we have discovered on average that approximately 30% of the leads coming in are qualified. The other 70% are for more general handyman services. We have configured Google’s settings to NOT include these other handyman services, but Google appears to be showing ads for them regardless.

Google’s location targeting is not perfect, and you may occasionally receive a call from someone who wants service outside of your service area.

Appeal a Dispute Denial from Google

If your dispute is denied, you can appeal to Google using these steps.

1. Go to: https://support.google.com/localservices/gethelp?sjid=2711278115967856061-NA

2. Sign in if you aren’t already.

3. Type ‘Dispute Charges’ in the “Tell us what we can help with” box. Click “Next”.

A number of boxes should open. Choose “Dispute charges” from the available options.

4. A “Resource” box will open. Ignore the contents and Click “Next step”.

5. On the next screen “Step 3—Contact options”, choose “Email”.

6. Double check if your lead is eligible for a lead credit. Double check this with the Troubleshooter here.

  • If not, then you cannot file the dispute appeal. Do not fill out the form. Unfortunately there is no further way to appeal the disputed charge.
  • If the troubleshooter says you are eligible for a lead credit, proceed to fill out the form.

Notes for above fields:

Be sure to choose the correct Local Services Ads ID. If you aren’t sure which ID to choose or multiple IDs show up, please contact your Local Search Appeal account manager for assistance.

For “Managed account number”,  leave blank.

Provide details on the lead you are disputing and the “Date the lead was received”.

Here are some examples of how to phrase your summary of the “relevant details” in the form text box:

Example 1
“This customer asked if we could do exterior wall repair. We do not have that service selected on our Local Services Ads job types. The lead was received at 4:10 PM. The phone number associated with the lead was  __________. We are asking for a review of this dispute.”

Example 2
“We would like to request a review of the dispute denial for calls that came in on 7/14/23, 7/15/23, and 7/16/23. These customers were out of our area. 

7/14/23 – from Glen Oaks area

7/15/23 – from Sacramento area

7/16/23 – from Yosemite area

Those areas are not under our Service areas. We are asking for a review of this dispute.”

7. Click “Submit”.

Google will review the dispute and get back to you via email with a decision (typically in 1-2 weeks). Be sure to check your email including your SPAM folder. Google will send a confirmation that you received the form.  Please be aware that Google may still deny your appeal based on their interpretation.