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Law firms want to know how to best spend their money when it comes to advertising. Which marketing strategy will result in the highest return on investment (ROI), and how can you get started? Or, if you’re already running advertisements, such as Google Ads, you may wonder if your campaigns are fully optimized to get the best results possible. We want to give you an honest take on Google’s latest offering for law firms, Local Services Ads (LSAs), as well as Google Ads.
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In today’s world, internet marketing is one of the best ways for your law firm to reach new clients. The technology in our fast-paced world allows us to be constantly connected and gives us access to a wealth of information at our fingertips. As a result, the digital landscape is continuously evolving.
Google Search Results, Ads, and the Rise of Mobile
Google search and ads have changed considerably over the last few years. It’s important to understand these changes to make informed decisions about your internet marketing strategy.
MORE ABOVE-THE-FOLD ADS. The look of Google’s search results page has evolved, giving much more prominence to paid Google advertisements and increasing the number of advertising sections at the top of the search page. The newest addition of Google Local Services Ads (LSAs) stands at the absolute top of the page, followed by the normal Google Ads placements and sometimes a Google Maps placement in the Map Pack.
THE RISE OF MOBILE. The number of Google searches done via a mobile device has nearly doubled over the past five years. Over 60% of Google searches are currently done via mobile devices, where above-the-fold space is considerably more limited than on desktop, and you may only see two ads at the top of the page before scrolling to see more results.
In addition, on mobile devices, Google Ads has made their placements look more like organic search results, and the organic search results look more like ads (with the added favicon), making it difficult for users to determine the difference.
The prominence of advertisements at the very top of the search results page, coupled with the growing number of mobile searches, explains the increased appeal of Google LSAs and Google Ads for firms trying to reach potential clients on the internet.
DESKTOP V. MOBILE. As most people know, the same search looks different on mobile compared to desktop. Showing above the fold, especially on mobile, where space is limited, gives you an important advantage over competitors.
- DESKTOP: As an example, here is a screenshot for the search query “Boston personal injury lawyer” on desktop:
On the desktop search results page, you will often see first the LSAs, then the Google Ads, and finally the beginning of the Maps without scrolling. Google will sometimes show up to four Google Ads, in which case all you’ll see are the LSAs and Google Ads.
- MOBILE: Here is a screenshot of the mobile view for the search query “Boston personal injury lawyer” for comparison:
On mobile for the same search, you only see the top two LSAs and part of the first Google Ad without scrolling.
BEING ON TOP ADVANTAGE. For all screen sizes, it’s extremely valuable to show at the top of the search results page. That said, the ads and organic results reinforce each other and showing up numerous times on page 1 — such as in the LSAs and the Google Ads at the top, the Maps, and the organic section — increases your chance of being contacted more than you would expect. For instance, someone could see your LSA up top but decide to call you after seeing your Maps listing. The appearance of both paid and organic listings at the top of the search results page can increase your click-through-rates (CTR) for both mediums.
1+1=3. A degree of incrementality comes from SEM (like Google LSAs and Google Ads) and SEO (organic results) together that cannot be replicated by organic alone. The addition of a paid Search ad alongside an organic listing can drive up to 89% incremental volume. In other words, 89% of the traffic produced by search ads is not replaced by organic when the ads are paused.
Keeping this information in mind, we will now look at the different types of Google advertising products.
Google opened LSAs nationwide for law firms for a variety of practice areas in July 2020. In our experience, this is a good product for lead generation, although it is not perfect, and it should be used as part of a more complete marketing strategy. Compared to Google Ads, the Google LSA product is still in its infancy, and Google is continuing to make adjustments. That said, there are still several benefits that make Google LSAs valuable:
1. LSA placement at the very top of Google’s SERP
Google’s LSA “trust pack” shows as a strip of three lawyers with prominent attorney headshots at the very top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP) on desktop, and two LSA placements at the top of the search results on mobile devices. The LSAs are above the Pay Per Click (PPC) ads, the Maps, and the organic results.
2. LSAs include Google Screened status
To run LSAs, a law firm will need to pass a background check. Google gives the “Google Screened” status to law firms that pass business-level and business-owner background checks via Evident ID, Inc. (Previously, the background checks were conducted by Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, Inc.) Google Screened status helps to establish trust and credibility with potential clients.
You should have at least one featured attorney on your profile, ideally an attorney licensed to practice in the state for which you are advertising, although it is not a requirement. While you need a lawyer photo for the LSA ad, you do not need to feature any lawyers on your LSA profile. That said, we recommend using a lawyer who is licensed in the state for which the LSA ad is running. You should also feature this lawyer on the law firm’s LSA profile, as shown in the screenshot below.
3. The LSAs stand out with a headshot
Displaying headshot photos on the LSAs helps to capture the user’s attention on the SERP and helps to provide a sense of professionalism and credibility. The headshot can consist of only one attorney, and group images and logos are not allowed. That said, firms can show the owner or main attorney in the headshot and feature additional attorneys on the LSA profile. In addition, you may add group photos, logos, office photos, etc. to the photo section on the profile page.
4. The LSA includes your Google reviews star rating
The LSA showcases your Google reviews star rating (maximum of 5 stars) and the number of reviews that your law firm has received on your ad. While it is not required to have a Google My Business (GMB) listing to have an LSA, you can link your GMB reviews if you would like to do so. As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, LSA-specific reviews are very important. Verified LSA reviews are from real clients who signed up for your services via the LSAs, which helps to cut down on fake reviews, although they still exist on GMB. The reviews help your ad stand out on the SERP and further aid in establishing trust and credibility with potential clients. About 90% of consumers have a tendency to trust companies with good online reviews.
5. You get “call tracking” built in
You can easily track your calls, correspond with leads, and listen to recordings via the LSA Leads dashboard. Per Google’s support page, recordings for legal verticals are retained for two months and then destroyed. In addition, there are several organizational tools to help you manage your leads (e.g., you can indicate when a lead is booked, completed, or archived). While LSAs don’t yet have the same tools available as Google Ads to analyze performance and how you’re doing relative to the competition, Google could release updates in the future. Currently, you can see some metrics for the LSAs in Google Ads, such as impressions and total daily budget.
6. You pay-per-lead
Unlike traditional Pay Per Click campaigns, with LSAs you pay-per-lead (e.g., you pay for each phone call or message that you receive from the ad). In our experience, the pay-per-lead program is good for lead generation as part of a more complete marketing strategy, as opposed to an LSAs-only approach. In many instances, our clients tend to spend well below their monthly budget and may not get as many leads as projected in the dashboard.
You can dispute charged leads and may receive a credit if they meet certain criteria. The following are considered invalid leads that are eligible to receive a credit: (1) Solicitations, (2) Spam, (3) Calls for services that you don’t offer, (4) Calls from outside your service area, or (5) A second charge for the same customer within 15 days.
7. You can set up an LSA for each office location
You should take advantage of the opportunity to create an LSA for each of your office locations to help maximize your potential to reach new clients.
You’ve probably heard of Google Ads before, since they have been around for 20+ years. The Google Ads platform offers several benefits for advertisers:
1. Ad placement on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
These advertisements show above and below the Google organic search results. Over the years, Google has made tweaks to the look of their results page that further blur the line between advertisements and organic results. People are 52% more likely to click on a paid advertisement at the top of Google’s search results.
2. You can use landing pages to help improve your conversion rate
You should create landing pages for your campaigns. In our experience, having separate landing pages for each ad group is very beneficial. We also recommend call tracking to gather data on phone call conversions.
3. There are a variety of tools available to measure performance
Google Ads is an established platform that offers advertisers the ability to track their performance over time through methods such as impressions, clicks, and conversions. There is additional information available via Auction Insights that can show you how you are performing relative to your competitors.
4. You can be specific with keywords and control your messaging with branding campaigns
Unlike Google LSAs, where you select practice areas (such as Auto Accidents) within a particular vertical (Injury Law, for example), with Google Ads you can target specific keywords for your practice, including long-tail searches and niche practice areas. You can also set up branding campaigns for the names of your law firm and partners.
5. Proven track record
Google Ads are a tried-and-true way to advertise your firm’s services and generate consistent revenue. With proper setup and management, Google Ads could be a very profitable investment for your firm.
How Do Google LSAs & Google Ads Work Together?
Google LSAs and Google Ads complement each other. Lawyers can advertise through LSAs, Google Ads, or both. When both LSAs and Google Ads show up, Google sometimes lowers the number of Google Ads that they show (typically, they show four placements). There are certain searches where the LSAs may show and the Google Ads do not, and vice versa, which could result from a variety of factors. Thus, to cover all permutations, a law firm would need to do both.
If you utilize both platforms, you could potentially dominate the entire top of the Google results page for some searches, which would be extremely valuable for your firm. Here is an example below:
Let Us Take Your Firm to the Next Level
Now that you are familiar with the benefits of Google’s LSAs and Google Ads, let us help you. At Justia, we focus exclusively on law firms, and through our decades of experience, we have developed a very strong understanding of how people search for lawyers, the tools that they use, and how they evaluate the lawyers whom they find. Simply put, we know what works.
We believe that a well-developed marketing strategy is diversified and delivers measurable results, whether it be through Google advertisements like LSAs and Google Ads, organic visibility (SEO), or local/maps visibility. We can develop, implement, and manage a marketing strategy that uses the latest tools available to grow your law firm and improve your bottom line.
Final Thoughts: Why Do You Care?
Investing in both Google LSAs and Google Ads is a fast and effective way to advertise your law firm’s services and generate more revenue. With proper setup and management, the more you invest, the greater your return will be. We strongly recommend investing in both as part of a complete marketing strategy.
Contact us today or call 888-587-8421 for a free consultation to review your current marketing campaign and discuss how Justia can improve your marketing ROI by strengthening your branding and online visibility.