Google is constantly experimenting with page one search results and adding new ways for users to engage with local businesses. Where law firms once only had to deal with paid advertisements and SEO rankings, Google My Business’s 3-Pack and map results added a new dimension to marketing.
Now, Google has gone a step further by adding another huge change – local service advertisements (LSAs).
What Are LSAs?
LSAs are a paid service that allows local businesses to appear at the top of search results – even above paid ads – with the added bonus of being “Google Screened” or “Google Guaranteed,” meaning Google is directly endorsing your firm above other competitors. Originally tested with services like plumbers and electricians, LSAs have been expanded to include legal services.
LSAs do not appear for every search result, unlike the broader results for Google Ads. Instead, LSAs will only appear for local-specific searches, such as “divorce attorney near me.” LSAs cut through a lot of the complex requirements for organic SEO or paid advertisements by zeroing in on a user’s zip code.
An LSA for a law firm will feature your firm’s:
- Google review score
- Years in the business
A user then has the option to click on one of the three law firms, or explore more attorneys. If users select a specific firm, then they will be sent to a dedicated LSA landing page with more information about the firm, including its contact information, practice areas, and attorney profiles. If users select “more options,” they receive a longer list of law firms in their area.
How Are LSAs Different From Google Ads?
It is important to know that LSAs are separate from traditional and local ads found in Google Ads. Some of the major differences include:
- LSAs are specifically for services that Google has verified and approved for advertisements, meaning you will not find traditional products in these results.
- LSAs are also pay-per-lead, as compared to AdWords’ pay-per-click model. This means that you will only pay when users contact your firm, rather than when they click on your listing.
- Because of the structure of LSAs, users never actually leave Google’s search engine, meaning you do not need a dedicated landing page like you do with Ads. The goal for Google is to keep users on their platform and limit the steps it takes to contact a law firm.
As Google has invested heavily in making the user experience as smooth as possible for smartphone and tablet users, LSAs are also better suited for mobile users. Rather than clicking through a paid ad into a law firm’s website and finding a contact form or phone number, users only have to click through the LSA to directly call an attorney. There are no mobile optimization requirements on your end to appear in LSAs, making this process more seamless for every party.
Can Any Law Firm Use LSAs?
LSAs are still in their infancy and it was only recently that law firms would appear in search results. Currently, there are only 17 practice areas that will appear in LSAs, including:
- Business law
- Contract law
- Criminal defense
- Disability law
- Estate planning
- Family law
- Immigration law
- Intellectual property
- Labor law
- Personal injury law
- Real estate
- Tax law
- Traffic law
There may be some nuance and overlap to these areas, such as DUIs falling into both criminal defense and personal injury, but as long as your firm serves one of these categories, you can begin using LSAs.
Should My Firm Invest in LSAs?
Diversifying your law firm’s marketing channels is always a smart decision, but we understand if you are apprehensive about using LSAs. You may have already spread your marketing budget through GMB, Google Ads, social media ads, and organic SEO, so what is the benefit to adding on LSAs?
LSAs offer a more direct approach to screening leads and landing new cases. You do not have to do work on your website or create dedicated landing pages; you just need to be certified by Google and have a budget to spare. Users, especially mobile users, will have an easier time contacting you as well, speeding up the conversion process. LSAs also cut out a lot of the noise around first page search results, homing in on local legal services. If you are already competing in SEO, social media ads, and Ads, LSAs may allow you to break new ground rather than going head-to-head with other attorneys.
But you should always remember that LSAs are going to become more competitive over time. Getting Google Screened and figuring out where LSAs fit into your marketing campaign early can put you one step ahead of your competition.
How Do I Become Google Screened?
To begin marketing with LSAs, you must first receive a Google Screened badge. You will need to sign up with Google and go through the eligibility process, which requires you to confirm your location and services. If LSAs are available in your area, then you will need to pass a background check and verify certain information about your firm, which varies based on business type. Google may check your business’s registration, your licensing with your state’s bar association, certifications, liability insurance for your local offices, and even do owner background checks.
Once you pass your background check and are verified, you can set your budget and advertise through LSAs. However, if you fail, you will need to wait another 30 days to submit a second background check. If you fail a second time, you will have to wait one year to apply again.
Speak to a Digital Marketing Expert About LSAs
For more than 20 years, SLS Consulting, Inc., has watched digital marketing grow and change rapidly. We paid close attention when LSAs were first implemented in general services, and now that the advertisements have been opened up to lawyers, we are working closely with our client firms. If you are interested in expanding your law firm’s marketing campaign into LSAs, reach out to us at (323) 254-1510 or toll-free at (877) 248-3529. We can discuss your goals in a free case evaluation.
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