Local Service Ads for
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Local Searvice Ads in a Nutshell
Imagine that SEO and Google ads had a baby...well they did and that baby is called Local Service Ads (LSA) or Google Screened. With the legal industry is incredibly competitive it's very hard for the average small solo law firm to get noticed online, let alone generate leads and convert them into clients. But there's a new way to get to the top of search engines and drive qualified leads: Google Local Service Ads (also known as "Google Guaranteed"). We've been closely involved with this program since its inception in the legal industry and it's really shaking up thesearch engine results page (SERPs) across all of legal. So let's set the groundwork on how to navigate this and frame some basics before you jump in:
- Why are LSAs important?
- How do LSAs differ from pay-per-click?
- How much do the leads cost?
- What are the advantages (or disadvantages) of this platform?
- What is involved with managing these myself or outsourcing this to an agency?
- My city doesn't have LSAs showing up for my practice area, now what?
Well, let's address these one by one...
How are LSAs important to your legal strategy?
Most law firms don't have an endless war chest of funds and need diversified strategies that can guarantee some type of lead flow without overextending their ability to pay. In a way, LSAs do just this by balancing performance and giving law firms a way to "dispute" leads should they not fit certain criteria.
How do they differ from pay-per-click (i.e. Google Ads?)
LSAs are incredibly important to have in your marketing arsenal because it's the first "performance-based" paid platform Google has ever done, meaning, you pay per LEAD not by click.
Local Service Ads are different from traditional law firm ads because they are prominently displayed at the top of search results, above the organic listings AND map results. When potential clients click on your ad, they're taken to a Google-verified page that includes your firm's contact information, reviews, and other important information. From there, if they contact you, you'll be charged for a lead.
How much do leads cost?
So, because you only pay when a potential client actually contacts you, you're probably wondering how much these leads actually cost, right? Well, Google has made estimating this easier andhas a tool you can use. Make sure you select 12 leads as a minimum qualification to participate in this program. This tool is hit or miss depending on your city, that said you can always contact our team and we can help get you a more accurate quote. Generally, the prices range dramatically based on the competitive landscape (how many law firms are using it) and their respective bids (i.e. how much are they willing to pay for a lead). We've found that lead can range from $30-40 for rural less competitive practice areas like estate planning to $150-200 for more competitive cities and practice areas (like personal injury and criminal defense).
What are the pros and cons of LSAs?
Bottom line: you have recourse if the lead isn't qualified, so refunds/credits are totally possible. For example, if someone calls you and they are asking for a service you don't provide...you can get a credit. If they call you and they're in another state and you can't help them...you can get a credit. However, if a lead calls you and they just don't have a case...you'll pay for a lead. That said, our team is 95% effective in processing leads and getting credits for our clients. 🙂 This is the main reason why law firms hire Nifty to begin with.
- Multi-location practices can rank for 2 or even 3 spots in LSAs (more visibility)
- Eliminate risks and exposure that other marketing options pose
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What are some other considerations or cons to this channel?
What is involved with managing these myself vs outsourcing this to an agency?
This is a big one...we've spoken with 1000s of law firm owners and a LOT of them have been burned by poorly executed paid campaigns. So you're not alone in being skeptical! Truth is - you may not need an agency's help at all. If you have in-house personnel dedicated to managing this channel, you MAY be in a place to have them handle the lead processing (refunds/credits) portion of this channel. There are other account considerations that should be taken into consideration before just taking this on yourself, here's a few:
- Setup: many have tried but some are successful because of the types of hoops Google wants you to hop through (i.e. business license verifications, identity background checks, proper photos, geographic selections, bids, etc.).
- Lead processing:We have a helpful sheet we can give you for free to help with the management. That said, this can be very time-consuming and not all employees are going to be effective at properly following the protocols to maximize refunds to your account. With each lead being potentially $150 - this can really not be a cost effective decision. So, you may find yourself in a "tripping over a dollar to pick up a dime" type situation.
Aren't local service ads set it and forget it? What is there to charge for?
You're right, local service ads are "set it and forget it" in the sense that you don't have to keep monitoring and adjusting your bids like you do with traditional online advertising. But there is still work to be done in terms of creating and maintaining your LSA campaign.
At the core of our LSA offering is our specialty in being able to manage the incoming leads and processing the refunds you're owed. This can be time-consuming and frankly, at $50-200 per call (depending on practice area) you'll need our help to ensure you're not paying for leads that are irrelevant to your practice.
So, what does your law firm need to do to be successful and give yourself the best chance for being successful in this budding advertising play? Three things:
LSA's are a new way of advertising, but potential clients will still look to reviews to make their decision. If you don't have any, we recommend getting started with Google. Nifty has review acquisition services that can be added to your LSA management. That said, "reviews" aren't really what we've seen move the dial - but - RECENCY of reviews is a big indicator to Google on who should and shouldn't be in these ad results.
Answer All Calls
You'll be charged for the lead when the potential client calls, so it's important to make sure you have someone available to answer the phone. Straight up - if you miss calls Google will demote your placement and your lead flow will dry up.
Keep Budget Consistent
This channel works with a certain amount of "momentum" so if you start-stop budget - you'll likely get less visibility. It's crucial that once lead flow begins, we lead it on and manage these leads by seeking disputes and refunds.
What if these ads aren't currently running or showing in my area, am I out of luck?NO! The good news is you really do have an opportunity on your hands because early adopters have a huge advantage in Google's algorithm on how these ads work. So, in most cities there needs to be 2-3 competitors participating in order to "trigger" these ads. If you have 2-3 offices, you can be all of them! What an opportunity in softer practice areas. However, LSAs are getting competitive, so if you're in PI or other large population areas, you'll frankly have to speak with us before we can be confident you can even get visibility. For example, if you search "Atlanta personal injury lawyer" you'll see 10s of 100s of law firms in the LSA component of that search. So how can you, a small/solo law firm breakthrough? The chances are you can't. However, there are other cities and practice areas that may not be as competitive. To sum it up, Google definitely favors first adoptors and the larger the market and more competitive the practice area, the smaller the opportunity you have to "win" in this channel.
Here are some other items we address on a monthly basis when you participate in our LSA management service:
- Ongoing Optimization
- Bid Management
- Credit/Refund Management
- Status and Policy Monitoring
- Call Quality Auditing (call recording and booking rate)
- New Feature Implementation
- Review Monitoring (volume, rating, recency)
- Weekly Lead Processing
- Intake Monitoring (Missed calls)
- Monthly Reporting
Get LSA for your law firm today, help: LSA's are different from traditional online advertising, which is why it's important to have a team that specializes in them. If you're interested in learning more about LSA's or how we can help your firm get started, please call us at 1-800-123-4567. We'd be happy to chat with you today!