Google’s Local Services Ads have been around in some iteration since 2015, but for lawyers, they’re finally available in cities across the nation.
If you haven’t come across them yet, here’s an example of what Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) for law firms look like:
LSAs offer several benefits for law firms—but they aren’t without their drawbacks. That’s why your law firm should carefully consider whether Google’s LSAs are right for you before diving in.
Below, we’ll get into the pros and cons of each of the features Google Local Services Ads offer for law firms so you can decide if this new type of digital ad could be beneficial for your firm…or if it’s better to steer clear.
Rise to the Top
THE PRO: Being one of the first things a searcher sees can have a huge impact. And since LSAs appear above Google’s standard pay-per-click (PPC) ads, that prime real estate is even more valuable. A survey conducted by Market My Market found that 40% of respondents would click on the LSAs when given the choice between them and the other options below them. And whey they were asked why, the respondents explained that they felt that “they’re the best lawyers.”
THE CON: You don’t have too much control over whether you’ll be one of the three (or two, on mobile) lucky firms to show up. Why? The results are primarily based on proximity to the searcher. In other words, if you’re the 4th-furthest firm from the searcher, you don’t get to be one of the first to show up. Plus, while LSAs used to operate on a flat-fee model, they’re now bid-based, which makes it even tougher (and more expensive) to be one of the top three.
THE VERDICT: If your market is crowded, it may not be worth it to fight for these spots. If you’re in a smaller area or serve a more niche need, however, LSAs for your law firm could be a good investment to generate leads.
Pay Per Lead, Not Per Click
THE PRO: When you use Google Local Services Ads for law firms, you pay when the ad connects you to a lead—not just when they click on the ad. Google also allows you to manage your budget by selecting your desired number of leads per week, and there are currently two types of bid options: one that lets Google bid for you to get more leads and another to set the maximum amount you want to pay for a lead.
THE CON: The bidding function means it’s going to get expensive fast to be one of the top three legal LSAs shown—especially in crowded markets. And if your law firm is already investing in PPC through Google Ads, you have to decide whether it’s worth it to add another payment in the hopes of being seen first. That depends greatly on your location, the other firms in your area of law, your advertising budget, and much more, so it’s not an easy call to make.
THE VERDICT: We’re all about collecting data, so in our opinion, LSAs are at least worth a shot for a trial run. That way, you can find out the cost per lead (CPL) you’ll be getting from Google and compare that with the rest of your advertising data. It’s impossible to tell whether LSAs will work for your firm in this aspect until you test it.
THE PRO: Google Local Services Ads for law firms display information right up front in an effort to build trust as soon as a searcher sets eyes on them. That info includes:
- A headshot. Seeing a photo of the attorney a prospective client may end up working with can instill a sense of confidence, or even comfort, in someone who’s in a tough spot. Plus, they’re great for grabbing attention!
- Your firm’s rating (including number of reviews). There’s not a whole lot out there that’s more encouraging to a customer than 5 yellow stars and a large number of reviews.
- How long your firm has been in business. This is also good for instilling confidence. On its own it wouldn’t be much, but when it’s displayed alongside ratings and reviews, it can provide peace of mind to the prospect.
- Your firm’s hours. This is always helpful for a potential client, no matter the industry.
THE CON: All this info is there on your competitors’ LSAs, too. That means there’s a strong chance that the searcher will decide to stay on Google and keep browsing other firms that catch their eye…or, even worse, choose another law firm and forget about you entirely.
THE VERDICT: The value of the information provided in Google Local Services Ads for law firms is directly impacted—and defined—by the competition. Do some research on your market before jumping in: which firms already have LSAs, and how will they look compared to yours?
Prospects Get Direct Access
THE PRO: When you have an LSA, searchers can click the ad and be sent to a Google landing page that provides more info about your firm and provides a way for them to message or call you (with tracking provided by Google). This makes it nearly seamless for prospects—in particular, ones who are further down the sales funnel and already motivated to hire—to reach out to you.
THE CON: This nearly-instant access isn’t necessarily good for high-research services like law. Although LSAs are designed to make hiring a service provider effortless, choosing an attorney—especially for life-altering events—is a heavy process that takes time. What could be convenient for someone with a leaky toilet isn’t too beneficial for someone going through a messy divorce or seeking representation for a workers’ compensation claim.
THE VERDICT: Having an LSA for your law firm can reinforce to searchers that you’re trustworthy and reliable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be getting more traffic to your website. And while LSAs provide a way for prospects to contact you directly, that’s not necessarily a benefit when dealing with matters as complicated as legal issues.
The “Google Screened” Badge
THE PRO: Being designated as “Google Screened” looks impressive, and it gives the impression that Google trusts you enough to recommend your firm to its users.
THE CON: It’s not that difficult to be Google Screened: your featured employees have to pass background checks, you need to confirm to Google that you’re able to practice, and you’ll have to pay $50 a month. The problem here is that the average law consumer doesn’t know that Google Screened is basically just a badge you pay extra for. Investing in LSAs isn’t cheap, so if you don’t have the spare budget to pay Google for this privilege, it may have a negative impact on your firm. Another problem? The other lawyers showing up with you in the LSAs are also Google Screened, so it doesn’t do much to differentiate your firm from theirs.
THE VERDICT: If you have a spare $600 a year to give to Google (on top of paying for the leads your LSAs generate), you might as well go ahead and get Google Screened. If not, you should probably skip it and focus your budget on PPC or organic search.
Ratings & Reviews Matter
THE PRO: The Local Pack used to be the only place a searcher could see your star rating at a glance—before, if you weren’t one of the first three shown, they’d have to click into the map to see you. Google Local Services Ads for law firms now offer another place for your star rating (and number of reviews) to be noticed as soon as the search results pop up.
THE CON: The drawback to this is that firms that don’t appear to have as many reviews—especially smaller firms—may not look like they’re on par with the bigger firms that may have dozens or more. And for firms without tons of reviews, any bad review can have a harsher impact on those coveted stars.
THE VERDICT: It’s a nice feature, but depending who you’re shown next to, it can give an immediate good or bad impression. Doing some research on your specific market is key.
Are Google Local Services Ads Right for Your Law Firm?
Will Google’s Local Services Ads be beneficial to your law firm? It’s a hard call to make—but it’s easier with an experienced advertising agency on your side.
Kirkpatrick Creative has been running successful digital advertising campaigns for law firms for a long time, and our years of experience include testing the process, measuring the data, and figuring out what gets results for your firm. It’s what we call advertising engineered to work.
To find out which modes of advertising could benefit your law firm, give Kirkpatrick Creative a call today and put an insightful, analytical team to work for you.