(Updated August 2020) Google Local Services Ads are now available for nearly all law firm practice areas, nationwide.
And so it begins…
Arguably the biggest legal marketing announcement in years has officially landed. It’s true, Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) are now available for law firms nationwide in nearly every legal practice area:
- Bankruptcy law
- Business law
- Contract law
- Criminal law
- Disability law
- DUI law
- Estate law
- Family law
- Immigration law
- IP law
- Labor law
- Litigation law
- Malpractice law
- Personal injury law
- Real estate law
- Tax law
- Traffic law
Chances are, your firm is on the list, and if not it’s likely your services are under the umbrella of one of these primary categories (medical malpractice is under personal injury, for example).
Why LSAs are an absolute game changer:
- Allows attorneys to place ads directly at the top of Google
- Only pay when a call is generated (pay per CALL, not per click)
- Receive refunds on bad calls, like sales, spam, competitors, outside of your service area, etc
LSAs are located above all search results including Google ads, organic and map results. What’s more, these ads include a ‘Google Screened’ badge indicating to prospective clients that your firm has been vetted by Google and verified to be reputable. (We’ll discuss what this process entails in this post).
To be clear, these ads are a completely separate platform from Google ads, meaning the setup is entirely different and allows you to capture additional real estate in the SERPs beyond your existing ad placements. They are also a pay per lead structure, meaning instead of paying per click – you now pay for phone calls. There is a flat fee for these leads, and the price varies by metro and service type. What’s more, if these leads are irrelevant (for example – wrong number, wrong practice area, calling for a competitor, etc) the lead can be disputed with Google and refunded.
Here is an example of what these ads look like currently:
Get Started with Local Service AdsContact Us
How do I get started?
Google has made the screening process a bit more involved compared to their other platforms. This is partly to help improve the quality of the ad space and resulting leads, as well as to meet the criteria required to earn the ‘Google Screened’’ badge. Essentially this screening process helps immediately establish trust between you and your potential clients. Here is what’s needed as part of the on-boarding process:
- A law firm’s founder and the firm entity itself must undergo a background check through a third party (usually Pinkerton).
- The process can take 2 to 5 weeks
- Each attorney at the firm must provide proof of active bar membership
- Firms must provide a Certificate of Liability Insurance (COI). This must be valid within 30 days of application.
Google My Business & Reviews
- LSAs will utilize reviews from your Google My Business listing
- Each location must have a review score of 3.0 or better
How does this affect the search results page?
As you can see in the image above, these local service ads are at the top of the page. That means Google Ad placements, local map pack ads, map pack listings, and organic all fall below. While these ads only show for very specific types of queries at the moment (strong local service intent), it’s likely their impact and offering will continue to grow.
The SERP has become extremely diverse, and you can no longer afford to focus your strategy on only one aspect (be it Google Ads, Google My Business, or organic rankings for example). Instead, the best strategy is to diversify your marketing channels within Google, thereby increasing your footprint and visibility to a potential search.
We are in constant communication with Google and working side by side with them to build out this product for lawyers. Let us know if you have any questions, or if you’d like to get the ball rolling, please message [email protected]
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is included in the background check process?
A: The check searches for felony charges up to 7 years back.
- Are the details or results of this background check visible on the listing?
A: No. If for any reason you don’t pass, the listing doesn’t go live. If you do pass, no details are shown other than the fact that your listing will display “Google Screened”.
- My firm has multiple owners and partners. Do we all need to do background checks?
A: At this time only 1 owner must perform the background check. All other attorneys will simply provide their bar license information.
- Does Local Services Ads make Google Ads or SEO obsolete?
A: Definitely not. LSAs only show for select keyword searches, meaning your other marketing efforts are still needed for full market reach. Also, our client data shows that the addition of Local Services Ads increased overall call volume without any decrease in call volume from existing efforts like SEO/organic, or Google Ads.
- How can I be more competitive with these ads? How is ad position determined?
A: Currently there are a few factors, but this is likely to evolve. Proximity of the searcher to your address, overall review volume and rating, and your responsiveness to incoming calls are all current influences. However, Google recently rolled out a bidding ‘option’ on the platform which is likely to become standard in the future.
- What happens if someone clicks on my ad? Does it take them to my website?
A: Clicking on an LSA takes prospects to a detail page with business information, photos, and contact number. Remember, Google’s goal (and revenue model) for this ad type is to drive individuals to pick up the phone. Below is an example of what this looks like: