Google rolled out a new advertising product that recently appeared in markets around the United States for law firms. These ads appear at the very top of the search results and will impact any law firm that uses Google to market their services. Of course, a new product comes with questions: What are these ads? How will it change what you do in your marketing? Why does this matter? What does it cost?
The very first ads you see in these images are called LSA or Google Local Service Ads.
This started in 2017 as Google Home Service ads and were rolled out for home service providers like HVAC companies, plumbers, electricians, etc.
They appear as the very first results in Google searches for specific businesses.
They are different because rather than paying for the click as in a Google Search ad, you pay for the actual lead which is a phone call, text message, or email.
Why does this matter to law firms?
This is the very first result a user that is actively searching for a legal service will see. The higher up an ad is in Google search results of Google, the more likely it is to get clicked.
The addition of this tactic changes the landscape of search in significant ways. Approximately 14% of users searching for a service will click an LSA. The clicks to LSAs will come from the other types of SERPS that would have been clicked if LSAs were not present. For example, Google Search Advertising (the top four positions before the rollout of LSAs) go from a 15% click through rate (without LSAs) to a 12% CTR (with LSAs). The Local Pack goes from 33% to 28%. Organic results shift most significantly from 51% to 43%.
SEO for lawyers and Google My Business optimization could be more important than ever before since some of those clicks are diverted to competing LSAs as well as Google PPC advertising for lawyers. Of course, a website designed for lawyers that can convert the lead is still a must.
The bottom line is that the first position in search is highly sought after by legal firms and if you’re not there to get that business, your competitor surely will.
What are the main benefits of LSAs?
- Top of Google results for your service.
- Connect with customers when they need you.
- Only pay for qualified leads for your service.
- Only connect with customers who have chosen you.
How do these ads differ from Traditional Search Ads?
They show up first in Google Search Results.
Google charges per lead. Lead price varies depending on the practice area promoted and the area of the country. A weekly budget is set that limits the total spend and leads. You only pay for qualified leads.
Google performs background checks on the business that have to be passed before you can run LSA ads. You have to complete a business background check for previous litigation. Owners and staff have to complete background checks for litigation and criminal history. Google also requires proof of proper licensing and insurance coverage. For details click here: https://support.google.com/localservices/answer/6230381
PLACEMENT OR RANK
The placement of your LSA ad largely depends on the proximity of your address to the user, the number of reviews, the overall review rating and how your Google My Business is optimized. Google also takes into consideration your responsiveness to users that contact you via an LSA. A better GMB with more reviews equals better placement.
LSA ads are designed to make a direct connection with a person that has a need for a legal service and the company that can provide that service. Leads are delivered directly to you by a tracking phone number or an email form. Google will charge you for sending you the lead which can be a call, text, email, or voicemail.
When a user clicks the LSA ad, it takes them to a business profile page that gives the potential client more information about the company, the review information and compels them to call or send an email. The potential customer does not visit your website; it all happens directly in Google and a charge to the business occurs only when there is contact made with you.
When do I start using LSAs?
Immediately. It has already been rolled out in many markets. We do not know what the future holds, but based on Google’s track record and the history of LSAs for other industries, we suggest starting the vetting process immediately and to allocate budget for this even if it has not appeared in your market yet. Legal service searches are one of Google’s most profitable areas for legal marketers and these ads have proved to produce huge ROIs in all the other industries that they are served for.
What can you do to make this more effective?
The LSA will have a business bio section section that you can use to highlight the issues you solve and the reasons to choose your firm. Go further than just stating the usual like a free case evaluation. What makes you the better choice? What do you do that other practices do not? What challenges do you solve? What are your competitive advantages?
REVIEWS REVIEWS REVIEWS
It is very likely that the best positions will be rewarded to the practice that has more and better reviews. This will help with numerous other aspects of your digital marketing as well. More reviews and a better rating will mean more leads for you.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS OPTIMIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
The LSAs pull vital information, reviews, and pictures from your GMB listings, so invest in professional management or be sure you know how to do this yourself. Keep the photos fresh and add new ones; make sure all the attributes are complete, populate the Q&A, use the description, and make sure that all content is keyword optimized for your practice area. Pictures become a higher priority since the LSA pulls them from the GMB.
LSAs give you the ability to determine what the exact cost is for a lead. This will also prove invaluable in your legal marketing efforts. With clicks sometimes costing in excess of $100, a phone call at twice the cost will prove worthwhile and give you a very strong ROI. What is your current conversion rate on paid search ads and what is your sign up rate from that? Then take into consideration what the average case is worth to you in that practice area. Take the cost per lead and multiply by the signup rate to calculate the client conversion costs. The math is simple but should always add up to big profits.
It is critical to carefully track incoming leads. Know what sources they are coming from (organic, GMB, paid search, LSA). This will be invaluable data. Track the leads straight through to signing the new client so you can be sure to know what gives you the best ROIs. Great information about your clients’ needs and why they picked you can be gained as well.
Remember, you are paying for the lead. Be 100% sure that the person answering the calls from leads that come in knows how to handle the call. They will need to qualify the lead, schedule an appointment and talk intelligently about the intake process all the while selling the lead on your practice. And of course, be absolutely sure that the call is answered 100% of the time.
What’s the long term impact on search advertising and legal marketing?
The LSA ads will become competitive for legal practices immediately. The LSA ads themselves should bring in higher quality leads and more leads if deployed correctly. As the LSAs gain traction in the market and less clicks occur in the other spaces including paid search, the cost per click of search ads for legal ads should decrease slightly. It’s simple supply and demand.
The search volumes of users looking for specific legal services will remain stable based on the usual conditions but more of the clicks from these searches will go to the LSAs. While we predict a decrease in demand and cost for the long term, you should not reduce budgets. This should be viewed as a very profitable addition to your current law firm’s SEO, Google My Business and lawyer search advertising efforts. This has proven to be the case for the other industries that LSAs have been rolled out for and should prove true for legal marketers as well.