Business Strategy, Digital Marketing, Paid Search (PPC)

By Katie Bradley

Local Service Ads (aka LSA) are HOT right now. They have been a paid advertising option for other industries such as home services, professional services, and creative services for years but are relatively new to the legal sector. They meet demand by populating for non-branded search terms, such as “personal injury lawyer near me,” for users who are searching for your services.

LSAs are a Game Changer

  • They appear AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE in search results, giving them the most prominent visibility on Google (higher than pay-per-click ads, local map listings, and organic results).
  • They include a “Google Screened” badge once your background check goes through, which shows users that Google has verified your business and can influence the probability of them contacting you.
  • There is no cost to get started and impressions on your ads are free. You only pay when someone clicks to call from the ad (a lead).
  • All calls are recorded in the LSA dashboard, giving you a chance to review them and ensure they are valid. If they aren’t, you can dispute them with Google so that you don’t get charged.

LSAs are Different from Search Ads

  • It’s a pay per lead model rather than pay per click.
  • They trigger based on services you select you want to take leads for, rather than having to choose keywords and match types.
  • You can’t create multiple ad groups, but you can choose subcategories of services. From an operations standpoint, this makes the ads easier to manage, as you do not have multiple ad groups, ad copy, keywords, or daily budgets to monitor.
  • You can select specific cities and zip codes you want to target, but since these are supposed to reach “local users,” every LSA is tied to a Google My Business (GMB) listing, which will be a determining factor for when Google chooses to show the ad.

How to Get Started

To get started, you’ll need a Google Ads account with payment information set up in order to submit the required business information. This can include proof of liability insurance, photos, tax information, license numbers, and more to submit your background check. You want to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, especially the “year founded,” as that will translate into how many years you have been in business, which is displayed on the LSA.

The entire process takes around three to five hours for set-up and two to four weeks for Google to conduct and finalize the screening. And while sometimes Google will let you turn the ad on without the background check being 100% complete, we don’t recommend doing this as Google likely won’t show your ad in the top three spots without it.

While you are waiting on that, you can begin setting up your profile by choosing your service area, categories, and more. There are currently 17 categories to choose from for the legal industry, but be careful when selecting these, as sometimes you’ll have to call Google to edit or add new categories after you’ve completed the initial set-up. In fact, changing even simple things like your website URL or phone number almost always requires a call to Google, with wait times averaging 45 minutes.

Ranking Factors for LSAs

Here at Postali, we encourage our clients to actively manage their leads through either the LSA dashboard or app, which can be downloaded via the Apple or Google Play store. Why? Because we care about getting valid leads for our clients and having them be engaged in this process, ensuring the quality and relevancy of leads measures up to their business objectives. We also help our clients stay engaged with managing their online reputation, explaining the importance of the volume of reviews and star-rating on their GMB listing, which is one of the top-ranking factors for LSAs. Other factors include:

  • Your proximity to where the search is coming from
  • Budget – Google will let you know if your budget is too low compared to your competitors in order to get noticeable results (how kind of them).
  • Responsiveness to leads
  • Business hours

Are Local Service Ads a Good Fit for Your Practice?

LSAs can impact your business in a big way, but you need to be positioned appropriately and actively be involved in managing your new leads. You will also need to ensure you can meet Google’s minimum cost per lead requirements, which depends on the location and competitors in your area. We see a range of $50-$200 cost-per-lead for legal LSAs, with an average cost of around $90 per lead.

It is also important to continue to ask for reviews. The more relevant & recent your reviews are, the more likely Google is to display your LSA in the top three spots. Reviews also impact local SEO, which means this will help boost your listing in the local map pack as well.

Contact Postali to Learn More

At our agency, we cover most of the LSA onboarding process for you. We submit background checks, set-up your Google Ads account and LSA profile, ensure your GMB reviews are connected and add photos and other relevant business information to your page. We create tracking numbers for the ads so that we can monitor and troubleshoot calls, checking for any potential issues that may be impacting leads.

Keep in mind that Local Service Ads are not a one-stop-shop for your advertising needs. Google search results are so diverse that it’s crucial you invest in both local and organic SEO as well, with paid ads serving to compliment your other online marketing efforts. Even if your LSAs ramp up and are ranking well, potential clients will most likely want to read your reviews, check out your website, research your social profiles, and more.

If your firm is killing it in these other areas, having LSAs and even traditional search ads will increase your visibility and help users develop trust – ultimately leading them to choose YOU over your competitors. Ready to get started? Contact us today!