Are You Using Paid Ads? If So, You Need Google Local Service Ads

What if your law firm’s information could show up at the top of every Google search results page, even above the Google My Business three-pack and the pay-per-click ads? You’d probably receive a substantial increase in traffic to your website, calls to your business, and number of new leads.

This has become possible in many markets with Google’s Local Service Ads (LSAs). For over a year, Google has been testing LSAs in various places across the country. This is a significant development for law firms that rely on local search, but there is plenty that you need to know about LSAs before you decide to put them in your marketing budget.

What Are Local Service Ads?

Being able to find businesses “near me” has revolutionized search over the past several years. Consumers love that they no longer need to enter their address, zip code, or city when searching for local businesses. Google just “knows.”

Going beyond giving consumers a map with business listings, the search engine now offers what is called Local Service Ads. This is the most prestigious real estate on a search engine page. Why? The LSAs appear at the very top of the search results. And instead of clicking through to a business’ website, the consumer can instantly call or message the business instead.

Local Service Ads are only available for certain industries. Some examples are plumbers, locksmiths, electricians, and painters. They are now available for some professional services such as financial planners, realtors, and yes – law firms.

Lawyers in just about any practice area can now purchase LSAs that target specific zip codes and communities. LSAs were once only available in a small number of U.S. markets, but these continue to expand as the program enjoys more success and helps consumers get the assistance they need.

How You Pay for Local Service Ads

If you’re accustomed to pay-per-click ads, these are different. LSAs are pay-per-lead ads, and you only pay for what Google calls “valid leads” for your business. Google will charge you for the ad if certain actions take place after it gets shown to a consumer:

  • You get a text message from a potential client.
  • You receive a call and speak with a potential client.
  • You receive a voicemail from a potential client.
  • You miss a call from a potential client but contact them back later via phone, text, or email.

If you are charged for an ad that you don’t believe was a valid lead, you can dispute the charge with Google.

What is the Benefit of Using LSAs for Law Firms?

The fact that Google keeps expanding access to LSAs is telling. Not only are these ads providing a better user experience but they are also giving businesses the results they want. If you’re on the fence, here are some of the benefits that your law firm can experience by adding LSAs to its digital marketing strategy:

  1. Better Conversions

If you’re pouring all of your marketing budget into PPC ads, you might be dismayed at your results. PPC ads are costly, and they sometimes don’t convert well. But you’ll get much more bang for your buck with LSAs, which promise to connect the right service provider with a searcher.

  1. Build More Trust

Searchers will notice the badge that appears next to your ad that says you’ve been “screened.” This not only catches the eye on a busy SERP page, but it also looks like an endorsement from the world’s biggest search engine. If Google has checked you out, it’s probably worth a closer look.

  1. Expand Your Reach

LSAs give you another way to reach consumers that are looking for your legal services. They aren’t meant to replace organic listings or even your traditional search ads. Consumers search in different ways and have varying preferences, so having your business positioned in multiple places is a benefit. LSAs also help you reach people who are using voice search, which is a growing type of search query for local businesses.

  1. Highlight Positive Feedback

Every LSA includes a link to the law firm’s ratings and reviews. This is one more way that you can highlight the positive feedback you’ve received from prior clients and use it to continue building your business.

What Will Your Firm’s Local Service Ad Look Like?

As a law firm, the number one question on your mind might be, “How do LSAs actually show up in search results?”

LSA ads appear at the very top of the search results. The ad will have your law firm’s name with its Google star rating and a link to its reviews underneath. Next, there will be a green checkmark, and the words “Google Screened,” followed by your years in practice, phone number, and office hours. In some cases, Google is even including your headshot with an LSA, which can increase the potential for clicks.

When you set up your ad, you don’t have to deal with those bothersome keywords. Instead, you choose from a list of categories within the legal industry. These might include things like:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Criminal Defense
  • DUI
  • Estate Planning
  • Family Law
  • Personal Injury Law

When a person’s local search matches the criteria you’ve selected for the services you offer, your ad will be eligible to show. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean your ad will appear or be first. Google still ranks ads using its own set of criteria.

How Google Ranks Law Firms in Local Service Ads

Similar to Google Ads and even organic search, your LSAs must meet certain criteria to rank in a decent position.

Your ranking is determined by several factors:

  • Your firm’s proximity to the searcher
  • The services you offer matching the searcher’s need
  • How many positive reviews you have
  • Being a “verified” business by Google
  • Your business hours

Google even tracks how responsive you are to customer inquiries. If searchers click on your ad to send you a message or call your law firm, and they don’t get a response, your LSA rankings are likely to suffer.

Even if you decline a lead or fail to generate positive reviews, Google will notice, and there’s a chance that your rankings will drop. But the opposite is also true. When your business is responsive to client inquiries and generates positive feedback, this can improve your rankings.

How to Get Started with Local Service Ads

If you want to use Google’s LSAs, you’ll need to jump through a few hoops to make them work the best for you. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make Sure You Qualify

Provided you’re a law firm with a local office in a participating market, you should qualify for LSAs. The program covers most practice areas. Google does require that you have a Google My Business profile with at least one review and a minimum average rating of three stars.

  1. Get Google Screened

Before your ads can go live, Google needs to vet your business. This is where you can set yourself apart from other firms that won’t take the time to go through this process. It involves:

  • Confirming you’re licensed to practice law
  • Providing proof of legal malpractice insurance
  • Undergoing a basic background check
  1. Set Up an Inbound Call Structure

Since Google uses your response time to determine your LSA rankings and decided whether to charge you for a lead, this last step is vital. Make sure you have a process in place to take calls, respond to messages, and qualify leads.

Should LSAs Replace Your Legal PPC Advertising or Other Strategies?

Many law firms would rather pay per lead than per click. You can stop stressing over Google’s confusing bidding system, and the flat fee per lead seems like a more effective model. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should completely abandon one program for the other.

Local service ads are a powerful digital marketing tool for law firms, but also a new one. In general, you’ll want LSAs to complement rather than replace other marketing channels like PPC, social media, SEO for organic search, and quality content.

Today’s legal consumers are savvy and likely to use a variety of tactics to find the best law firm to meet their needs. So, even if you rank well with LSA’s, a prospect is still likely to read your reviews, check out your social media profiles, and visit your website before making a choice.

If a prospect sees that your firm shows up in several places instead of just one, this will boost brand awareness and increase the chances that you’ll get the call instead of one of your competitors.

Sundown Marketing Group Helps Law Firms With Results-Driven Solutions

Local Service Ads are still somewhat new, and now is your firm’s best opportunity to take advantage of this digital marketing strategy. As more law firms sign up for LSAs, the expectation is that competition and prices will begin to rise.

Staying on top of changes to Google’s algorithm and ad network rules can be a full-time job. As a busy law firm, you shouldn’t have to shoulder this burden while you work to solve your client’s legal issues.

Sundown Marketing Group specializes in creating strategic digital marketing solutions that produce results for law firms. These include website design, SEO strategy, content and video engagement, and paid ad strategies. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Paid Advertising Is The Difference Maker

Getting people’s attention online is tough. Everyone has a website. Your best friend has a website. Your kids probably have one, too. And you can be sure that the law firm down the street has a website, telling prospective clients how they will help them resolve their legal issues, protect their rights or collect the most damages.

So how do you get people to visit your firm’s website and take the action you want? Effective digital marketing requires an SEO-optimized website and engaging content. But you need to get people to actually visit your site before you can hook them with your charms. One of the ways you can do this is through paid digital advertising.

What is Paid Digital Advertising?

Paid advertising online is also referred to as pay-per-click or PPC advertising. In this scenario, your firm pays a fee each time a user clicks on one of its ads. This is an additional way to generate leads for your business. The cost can vary depending on the competitiveness of the terms you choose to target as well as the platforms selected for your advertising campaign.

There is a common misconception that PPC advertising is expensive. Some keywords, like “attorney”, “injury” or “divorce” can be costly on certain networks. But using more strategic and targeted phrasing can generate quality leads and a positive return on your investment.

The Benefits of Using PPC Advertising

So, why are PPC ads a good idea? Here are a few reasons why your firm should consider integrating paid advertising into its digital marketing program.

  1. PPC Ads Produce Fast Results

There is nothing wrong with getting traffic from organic searches, in fact most SEO programs are designed to increase website traffic through organic searches. But it can take time to get results from a comprehensive SEO strategy. You can achieve fast and immediate results with paid ads, making it an excellent complementary tactic to your firm’s SEO efforts.

In 2019, Google was the world’s largest digital ad seller, with over 31% of the market or more than $103 billion in ad dollars. Facebook came in second at over $67 billion in ad spending and 65% of all social media ads.

  1. PPC Ads Helps You Generate Qualified Leads

Another benefit of paid ads is that they help small businesses bring in more qualified leads to their websites. A billboard, newspaper, or television ad aims to reach as large an audience as possible. But most people that are looking for a lawyer perform a targeted local search, such as “personal injury lawyer near me.”

With PPC ads, you are targeting geographically as well as towards the types of people who would be most interested in your services. This means that the traffic you drive to your website will be more likely to contact you for a consultation.

  1. PPC Ads Deliver Measurable Results

As with any type of digital marketing campaign, you need to be able to set benchmarks and measure your results. With PPC ad campaigns, you get in-depth analytics that enable you to measure every aspect of your campaign, including the number of clicks, your cost per click, and how many conversions you are getting from the clicks. This can help you optimize your marketing budget and improve your results over time.

  1. You Can Broadcast Your Message Across Multiple Platforms

It is not always easy to guess where your target audience is going to search for your services. Some are going to use Google, and others will turn to social media. Fortunately, you can advertise on both with PPC ads.

When you advertise with Google, you have the option of having your ads show up in search as well as in the Google Display Network on other websites. Further, nearly all social media platforms have some form of paid advertising that you can leverage:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Reddit

Types of PPC Campaigns for Law Firms

Not all legal PPC campaigns are the same. Depending on your specific goals and primary areas of practice, there are different ways to pay for advertising online:

Search Ads

This is one of the most common types of PPC advertising. Web searchers see paid ads with the label “Ad” at the top and bottom of the search engine results. The more you outbid others, the higher your ad will get placed. With this type of campaign, you log into Google AdWords or Bing Ads and set up your different campaigns to serve your ads for different phrases and target audiences.

Display Ads

Display ads are like purchasing space in the yellow pages, but a bit more fluid. With a display campaign, you can buy a spot on a website, or set up a campaign through AdWords. You can specify placement on websites that appeal to your market. These ads are useful for brand awareness, but the CTR is higher on other types of PPC ads.

Social Media Ads

Millions of Americans spend time on social media platforms. They connect with friends and family, network, and research businesses. You can create paid ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to target users based on demographics or specific interests.

For example, you might create a campaign on Facebook that targets women in your area between the ages of 25 and 45 that join “single mothers” groups. If your firm focuses on business law, you can run paid ads on LinkedIn targeting people that have joined small business or entrepreneur groups.

Retargeting (Remarketing)

When a person has a troubling legal issue, they might struggle with where to turn for help. Maybe they have visited several attorney’s websites and still cannot make a decision. Enter paid retargeting ads.

If you have ever shopped for a product, say kayaks, and then saw ads for kayaks on every site you visited afterward, you have experienced retargeting ads. This tactic uses browser cookies to determine what consumers have recently searched for and then serves relevant ads on search engines, web sites, and social media platforms.

Contact Sundown Legal Marketing Today

Sundown Legal Marketing specializes in helping law firms maximize their potential. We start with a thorough review of your current online presence and then develop a comprehensive digital marketing plan that includes website optimization, video engagement, paid advertising and a robust content strategy. Contact us today for a free evaluation and to learn more about how we can help you take your firm’s marketing to the next level. Call us at (800) 864-1764 or reach us online at your convenience.

Oftentimes, digital marketers have little control over the look and feel of the landing page they are given to serve prospective customers online. At Sundown Marketing we’re lucky enough to have complete control over the landing pages (with client consent of course), so we decided to test what works better for an AdWords campaign: the traditional “splash” landing page which usually consists of very few words, but tons of over-the-top calls to action, or a traditional optimized page, with SEO best practices in mind.

For this case study we used three ad groups:

  1. For ad group A, our strategy was to send users to an SEO optimized landing page, without making any changes to the page.
  2. For ad group B, our strategy was to send users to an SEO optimized landing page, but we added one call to action, a specialized contact form.
  3. For ad group C, our strategy was to send users to a unique “splash” page created specifically for this ad campaign.

As you can see from above, we utilized two SEO optimized landing pages and just one splash page, but we felt it was important to study the impact of a high value call to action on an existing SEO optimized landing page.

After two weeks here are the results we saw from our three ad groups:

Ad performance:

The first two ad groups were the SEO landing pages, and they did fairly well in the first two weeks of existence. The first one produced 50 clicks, with a click-through-rate of almost 9%, while the second one produced 124 clicks with a click-through rate of just over 4%. At first glance, you might say that ad group C did not do well in comparison to the first two. Only 9 clicks. However, it did produce a very high click-through-rate at almost 14%.

Now, none of this tells us how the landing page performed, only how the ads performed, right? However, there is something we can deduce here that might be telling, and that is the number of impressions. If the splash landing page contributed to a low-quality score for the keywords, then the ads might have been served less frequently. However, the keywords in ad group C had quality scores of “8”. That is high quality score. Meanwhile, the quality score of the other ad groups were 7, 8, and 9. That’s pretty good too, so it seems the landing page has not affected the quality score of the keywords. The fact that ad group C had fewer impressions must simply be because it was searched for less frequently than the other two ad groups.

Now, let’s get into how the landing pages performed once users were there. Below is the Analytics data for the AdWords campaign that tells us a little bit about that:

In this Analytics data we can see that while all the first two ad groups had much more traffic from the pay per click campaign, they had less time on site, which is quite shocking. However, there’s one column that stands out for ad group C, and that is the bounce rate is much lower than the first two ad groups. Still, there were only 11 visitors, so we can’t conclusively say much from that data sample, but it is an insightful start.

Looking at the impressions over time, there was an uptick a few weeks after we reverted the landing page from a splash page to the SEO friendly landing page. This indicates that the market was higher, but also likely that Google preferred to show this ad after we started sending it to an optimized landing page.

In the end, the two ad groups with the SEO landing pages had more clicks then the ad group utilizing the splash page. It could simply be that those keywords were searched for more often, or it could be that Google prefers to show ads with SEO friendly landing pages. When the splash page was reverted to an SEO page the ad was shown more frequently, so it is probably safer to go with an SEO page.

If you’re in a hurry to get a page up and start directing traffic to it, a splash page isn’t a bad idea, but you should really consider the drastic difference in clicks that we produced in our study and send your paid advertising campaigns to SEO optimized pages. It would also be a good idea to customize the page with a call to action and a specialized contact form. Besides it won’t hurt to optimize it for organic traffic too, and allow it to continue bringing organic traffic into your website.

If you need any assistance with your Google AdWords campaigns or any other paid advertising campaign or have questions about the most effective way to manage your Google Adwords program, give Sundown Legal Marketing a call at (800) 649-1764 or contact us through our online contact form.