For years, law firms have been investing a lot of time and money into appearing first in Google search results. Since 2019, the top spot in search results for high-value law firm keywords has been taken up by local service ads (LSAs).

LSAs offer numerous benefits besides the fact they appear above everything in search results. Firms that invest in these ads and pay attention to Google ranking factors for LSAs can get more of the leads they want.

PMP has helped law firms across the country get started with LSAs and ensure they get a strong return on their investment. If you are looking to get more from your digital or traditional marketing efforts, contact us to learn more about how we can assist you.

What Are the Benefits of Local Service Ads?

LSAs offer unique benefits compared to other forms of paid digital advertising. If your firm has not invested in LSAs, you should take some time to review the many benefits of these ads. When done right, LSAs can bring you more of the leads you are looking for without the large financial investment you need to make to get leads from pay-per-click advertising.

Prime Real Estate

As mentioned above, LSAs appear above everything else on search engine results pages (SERPs), including pay-per-click ads, maps and of course, organic search results. Users are more likely to click on the results that are higher on the page, particularly the results that are right at the top.

This is particularly true of the people who click on LSAs, as they are looking to engage with a business right away. For example, people who click on LSAs for personal injury lawyers have already been involved in an accident and they know they need legal assistance.

This is different from people who may have some legal questions, but they are not yet sure they need a lawyer. They may be more likely to scroll down a SERP to do more research on local law firms.

Pay Per Lead vs. Pay Per Click

LSAs are pay-per-lead advertisements – you only pay if someone clicks on your ad and contacts your firm, either by phone or through a contact form. If someone clicks on the ad but does not call your firm, it does not cost you anything. In fact, even if someone calls your firm by clicking on an LSA, it does not count as a lead unless the call lasts at least 30 seconds.

Proximity Matters

If someone who is close to your firm’s office searches for a personal injury lawyer, your LSA will get a boost in the rankings because your ad is more relevant to the user. That means you are more likely to be contacted by people who are close to your firm. The whole purpose of LSAs is to connect people with the services they need in their local area.

Google Background Check

Businesses must go through a Google background check before their LSAs will be displayed in search results. LSAs for lawyers and other professional services get a checkmark indicating these businesses have been Google screened. In other words, Google is vouching for your firm’s quality and expertise in providing the services users are searching for.

Giving Users More Information About Your Firm

LSAs also give users more information about your firm, which may help them decide which firm to contact. This information includes:

  • The area you serve
  • Your picture
  • How many years you have been in business
  • Your firm’s hours
  • The number of five-star Google reviews for your firm

How Much Does a Local Services Ad Cost?

You pay a flat fee per lead. This fee model means firms have a harder time improving their LSA rankings by simply pouring more money into them. The pay-per-lead model can help smaller firms that do not have the budget to compete with larger firms that can pour a lot more money into pay-per-click ads.

When Do Google Users See LSAs?

Google triggers LSAs when users search for specific services in their local area. If someone searches for “car accident lawyer” and adds a city to the search query, LSAs for firms in the local area will come up.

How Does Google Rank LSAs?

There are many factors that influence the ranking of LSAs. For example, the closer your firm is to the person searching, the more likely it is the person will see an ad for your firm. However, this is just one ranking factor, according to Google.

Other considerations include:

  • Your hours – if your firm is still open when someone searches, your firm may be more likely to come up; firms that can take calls 24/7 are likely to get more exposure when people search
  • Your Google review score
  • The number of reviews you have received
  • How quickly you respond to customer inquiries – if people call and no one picks up the phone, your ad will likely fall in the rankings
  • If there have been repeated complaints about your business

Can I Pick Keywords For LSAs?

You can select the categories of keywords where your ads may show up, but you cannot select specific keywords that can trigger your ads. It is up to Google to determine if your ad is relevant to the person searching.

Disputing Bad Leads

One of the unique aspects of LSAs is that you can dispute bad leads and get a refund from Google. Bad leads are ones that are not relevant for your firm. For example, you can dispute calls from people:

  • Trying to sell something
  • Seeking employment
  • Who dialed the wrong number

You can also dispute prerecorded calls or calls that are not from human beings.

However, law firms cannot dispute calls for a legal service your firm does not offer. You need to make sure to update your profile to remove services you no longer provide, because if someone calls about a service listed on your profile, you cannot dispute the lead.

Why LSAs Are Not a Replacement For Pay-Per-Click Ads and SEO

Google’s organic rankings are certainly less important than they used to be, as they appear much farther down the first page of results than they used to. But make no mistake, organic rankings and SEO are still important to your digital marketing efforts.

For example, some people are apprehensive about clicking on advertisements. They might scroll past the ads to look at the organic results.

There are also search engine results pages that do not contain ads, such as pages with law firm blogs. People who search for these kinds of blogs are looking for answers to legal questions, but they are unsure about contacting a lawyer.

If you write high-quality content on your website that answers common questions people have, you can rank high in search engine results and get traffic to your website. When people visit your website, they may click around to learn more about your firm. When they are ready to contact a lawyer, they may be more likely to think about your firm.

Process For Setting Up a Local Service Ad

There are numerous steps in the process of setting up LSAs. There are also numerous steps you may need to take to move up in the LSA rankings, such as getting more Google reviews, making sure phone calls are answered quickly, and responding to negative reviews of your law firm.

Given the importance of LSAs, you need to devote the time to get the most out of them. PMP has been helping firms get the most from their LSAs since they became an option for law firms. This includes disputing bad leads, helping law firms get more Google reviews and addressing problems with law firm’s intake processes.