Law Firms Disrupted by Local Service Ads (LSAs)

2020 brought more than enough disruption – and Law Firms specifically saw their #1 lead generation channel (Google) introduce an entirely new ad format that sits above the Google Ads (PPC) & Organic rankings.

LSAs sit at the top of the Google search results page (SERP), above Google Ads, map pack, and organic results. Instead of charging per click, advertisers pay-per-lead, including calls and form submissions.

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To be featured in the top of LSA rankings, you need to pass Google’s screening process, which includes verification of your state bar number, business address, previous addresses, and a background check. Initially, Google launched with Pinkerton as their background check partner, but after mounting issues, delays, and hiccups, they switched to Evident in February 2020.

What are the implications of Law Firm Local Service Ads?

  • PPC & Organic are getting fewer clicks as a share of the pie. If you’re currently running Google Ads, you likely saw your click-through-rate (CTR) decrease.

  • Local Service Ads are more economically efficient compared to Google Ads PPC. For law firms who can consistently rank in the top 3 LSA spots, their cost-per-lead will likely reduce by 25% or greater.

  • Google Reviews just became significantly more valuable and important. They already played a big role in local map pack rankings and now they are a significant piece of the ranking equation for Local Service Ads. The quantity and quality of your reviews are now paramount. Google emphasizes this by building a new link to make it easy for past clients to leave you a review.

  • You may see a decline in web traffic. Searchers who interact with Local Service Ads don’t necessarily need to click through to your website.

  • Your lead generation team needs to be well-versed in Local Service Ads. While Google designed LSAs to be easier than PPC, they have already seen rapid changes. Business profile optimization, bidding, and lead disputes have been in flux since launch. Your marketing team should be on top of the latest opportunities so your competitors don’t hog all the new cases.

How Do You Rank at the Top of Local Service Ads?

Simplified, the LSA ranking formula is location x review score (quantity and quality) x bid.

Location is increasingly given greater weight in Google’s algorithm for determining rank for both Local Service Ads and Organic Map Pack. If your office is located in city center, it will be a strong ranking factor (still factoring in reviews & bid) that will help you rank in the top 3 (most visible) positions. All other things equal, a location at city center will outrank a competitor who is targeting your area, but has an office outside the city.

In a 2018 study conducted by BrightLocal, reviews were the primary motivating factor for clicking on Local Service Ads.

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What do LSAs mean for SEO & PPC?

While Google Ads/PPC and Organic/SEO have certainly been impacted by Local Service Ads, both retain a meaningful role in the SERP and a law firm’s lead generation strategy.

In a study published October 2018, Local Service Ads accounted for 13.8% of all SERP clicks. When LSAs were present, 25% of clicks were on paid results. When LSAs were not present, paid results only received 14% of clicks.

Organic results still receive most clicks on the search engine results page; however, since LSAs, that number has dropped from 50% of clicks to 44%. If your law firm isn’t getting significant leads and cases from SEO, get in touch for a free consultation to discuss your opportunities.

In a law firm specific example, some PPC campaigns saw both a cost/conversion increase of 50% and a decrease in conversion volume of 50%. These are fairly drastic numbers that may also coincide with other factors, both internal and external, including lockdowns, etc. We’ll be releasing our own study analyzing over $1 Million in PPC spend before and after LSAs launched.

LSAs are Available Nationwide in the Following Legal Practice Areas:

  • Personal Injury
  • Malpractice
  • Criminal Defense
  • DUI / DWI
  • Bankruptcy
  • Estate law
  • Family law
  • Immigration law
  • IP law
  • Labor law
  • Litigation law
  • Real Estate law
  • Tax law
  • Traffic law
  • Disability law

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