When people in your area search for “lawyer near me,” does your law firm appear at the very top of the search results? Getting approved and optimized for Google Screened – Local Service Ads (LSAs)for lawyers will send your business to the top of the search results page.
Local Service Ads (LSAs) are an excellent marketing tool that can help your law firm reach more potential clients and establish your credibility. Combining LSAs with a Google Screened badge can further promote your law firm as the right choice for prospective clients.
At Ten Golden Rules, we’re experts in Google Local Service Ads for lawyers. Google uses a complex, secret algorithm to determine LSA rankings, but we’ve been doing extensive testing and sleuthing to develop strategies that cracks the code and sends our clients to the top of search results.
We’ll put our in-depth LSA skills to work to reach more clients and grow your legal practice. Contact us today for your FREE internet marketing audit and to learn more about our cutting-edge marketing services for lawyers.
What Are Local Service Ads?
Local Service Ads (LSAs) are a new type of search engine ad that Google offers exclusively for local businesses. They appear at the very top of search results, even above the Google Maps section and the pay-per-click ads. As a result, they are highly visible to potential clients. Many users are familiar with the Google Guaranteed badge available to home service companies such as plumbers and air conditioning and HVAC services, they see the Google Screened Check mark and they know your law firm has been vetted and approved by Google..
LSAs are viewable on desktop and mobile devices and are available for certain types of local businesses — including law firms. They use a pay-per-lead pricing model rather than pay-per-click. This means you won’t pay for an ad unless you get a lead from it.
But simply paying for Local Service Ads isn’t enough to maximize their benefits for your law firm’s leads and conversions. You need to carefully curate these ads to increase their rankings and engage your potential customer base. You also need to go through a background check and provide proof of licensing and insurance just to qualify for these ads.
Our LSA experts will take care of the entire ad creation and management process for you, ensuring that your LSAs provide an exceptional return on investment (ROI).
What Is Google Screened?
Google Screened is a program that boosts your law firm’s credibility within Local Service Ads. Through this program, Google will put a green checkmark next to your law firm’s name in LSAs to indicate that it has screened and vetted your business. When potential clients see this badge, they will instantly know that your law firm is a reliable choice, giving them more confidence in your services.
Google offers the Google Screened program primarily for professional services, including law, financial planning, and real estate. Your law firm will need to meet these basic qualifications to become “Google Screened”:
- Go through a background check
- Verify your legal licenses
- Maintain a certain star rating on Google
- Have a certain volume of good reviews
The Google Screened badge can give your law firm a competitive advantage and help you stand out in an oversaturated legal market. With so many options available to potential clients, having a Google Screened badge can give you a leg up that encourages prospects to choose you.
The screening process for the Google Screened badge is free, but you must pair it with Local Service Ads.
Google Screened ads could be an incredibly valuable asset for your law firm. Our digital marketing experts will help you meet the qualifications to become Google Screened and guide you through the verification process.
Our Expert Strategies to Boost Your Local Service Ad Rankings
Google uses a “secret algorithm” to determine how to rank businesses in Local Service Ads and the Google Screened program. This algorithm encompasses many factors, such as the:
- Number and recency of reviews
- Business’s responsiveness to communications
- Business’s operating hours
- Proximity of the business to the searcher
- Number of complaints about the business
- Business’s bid amount
Ranking at the top of Google Local Service Ads for lawyers can be tricky, but our business can help you optimize every facet of your Google Business Profile and ad content to boost your rankings. We’ve narrowed down a list of strategies that provide the most benefits for LSA rankings, and we’ll guide you through each of them as part of our LSA services.
Apply For a Google Screened Badge
These days, having a Google Screened badge is almost synonymous with having Local Service Ads. Complete a quick search for “personal injury lawyer near me” or “realtor near me,” and you’ll see that almost all of the businesses with Local Service Ads have that green checkmark. Getting Google Screened is the first step in optimizing your LSA rankings.
Google has a slightly different verification process for each type of business eligible for Google Screened. For lawyers, Google verifies all active law licenses, but it may not conduct a separate background check, as each U.S. state requires lawyers to undergo background checks as part of the licensing process.
Our team can help you complete the verification process for Google Screened. If you don’t quite meet all of the qualifications — such as having enough reviews — we can help you improve your eligibility.
After your law firm earns a Google Screened badge, we can ensure that your business continually meets Google’s standards for this program. Google rechecks businesses periodically to ensure that they continue meeting the criteria.
Answer Phone Calls Promptly
Google’s algorithm appears to favor LSAs from businesses that answer phone calls quickly — ideally within 15 seconds. Meanwhile, missed calls can negatively affect your LSA rankings.
Google wants to ensure that users have a positive experience when they contact businesses through LSAs. Not answering phone calls could indicate that a business is not available when potential clients need it and is perhaps not worthy of the Google Screened badge.
But how does Google know how quickly your law firm answers calls? It uses artificial intelligence to monitor call interactions, distinguishing between hold music and actual conversations. If a law firm answers a call but places the caller on hold for an extended amount of time, this could negatively affect their LSA rankings.
If your law firm struggles to answer phone calls within 15 seconds, consider making operational adjustments to improve your responsiveness. You may need to:
- Train your staff on the importance of Local Service Ads to encourage them to answer calls promptly
- Hire additional staff during peak call times
- Set up or improve your call routing system to better manage influxes of calls
The more reliably your business answers phone calls, the higher your LSAs will be, ultimately bringing more leads to your law firm. Those leads will turn into more phone calls, creating a positive feedback loop that steadily grows your business.
Get New Reviews Regularly
Google requires businesses to have at least five reviews to qualify for Local Service Ads. But the more reviews your business has — and the higher quality those reviews are — the more visible your LSAs will be. Having positive reviews also poses a range of other benefits for your law firm:
- Boosts your credibility
- Encourages potential clients to choose your law firm over others
- Builds trust with prospective clients
Google’s algorithm prefers law firms that have a consistent flow of new reviews. To optimize this algorithm factor, your business should see at least one or two new reviews each week.
Reviews on the LSA platform and on Google Maps can both contribute to your LSA rankings, but LSA reviews may carry more weight within the algorithm. These reviews come from verified customers who have engaged with your business by clicking on the Local Service Ad.
Strategies to Increase Positive Reviews
Encouraging clients to leave thoughtful, positive reviews isn’t always easy. But at Ten Golden Rules, we have developed powerful strategies to help law firms gain high-quality reviews from clients.
First, we’ll set up the review request feature in the Local Service Ad platform. This feature allows us to request reviews directly from past clients who have engaged with your LSAs.
We often use software like Birdeye and Podium to facilitate the review collection process as well.
- Birdeye is a reputation management tool that automates review requests and lets us monitor your law firm’s reviews across over 200 platforms
- Podium makes leaving reviews effortless for your client base by sending them an automated text
Next, we’ll help you set up strategies to incentivize reviews from clients. For example, if your law firm sponsored a local softball team, you could request for team members to leave reviews of your practice in exchange.
Collecting reviews is part of a greater reputation management strategy. Clients are more likely to leave positive reviews of your law firm when you provide them with personalized, exceptional services. We can help your law firm change your business approach to adopt a more client-forward concierge service that garners positive feedback.
Google also prioritizes businesses that actively engage with client reviews. We’ll respond to positive reviews with gratitude and handle negative reviews strategically.
Mitigating Negative Reviews
Negative reviews can hurt your LSA rankings, but you can’t always prevent clients from leaving them. What you can do is have strategies in place to mitigate negative reviews.
Responding to reviews promptly and professionally shows that your law firm cares about its reputation and takes measures to right wrongs. You can also provide clarification that may help readers understand that the reviewer’s claims were unfounded.
We’ll continuously monitor your Google Business Profile and Local Service Ads for both positive and negative reviews. When negative ones occasionally arise, we’ll respond to them tastefully and mitigate the damage.
Turn on Message Leads
Local Service Ads encourage the people who see your ads to click on them and reach out to your business in some way. While many Google Ads have the option for phone call leads, which open up your phone number in the user’s mobile device, Local Service Ads also have an option called “message leads.”
Message leads allow potential clients to send an instant message to your business instead of making a phone call. You’ll receive this message in your business email, and Google will log it as a lead in your data and analytics. In the message, the potential client will have the opportunity to provide contact information and share any inquiries, such as questions about a potential legal case.
We highly recommend activating message leads in your LSAs and Google Screened Ads. Turning on this setting is as simple as clicking a button in the LSA platform.
Activating message leads can:
- Increase the overall number of leads your law firm receives
- Provide an alternative way for potential clients to reach you
- Remove communication barriers
Our marketing team will turn on this setting as soon as we create your Local Service Ads, allowing you to begin instantly capitalizing on both phone call and message leads.
Set a Competitive Bid
When you purchase Local Service Ads, you must set a bid amount, which is the maximum you would pay for each lead. Then, when multiple law firms bid on the same lead, their bids determine how much the lead is worth. If the lead is outside your maximum bid, Google won’t show that person your LSA.
Your bidding strategy plays a crucial role in the visibility of your Local Service Ads and the ROI you receive. At Ten Golden Rules, we’ve carefully analyzed the impact of different bid strategies on LSA rankings and developed a few data-driven tips to optimize this facet of the LSA algorithm.
- Set the maximum bid whenever possible. Google offers two bidding options for LSAs: “Maximize leads” and “Set max per lead.” Choosing the former option can help you stay competitive, especially within high-demand markets like the legal industry.
- Adjust bids periodically. We will review your bids every few weeks and make adjustments based on market dynamics and ad performance. At the same time, we’ll avoid making changes more than once every 46 to 60 days, as the LSA algorithm takes time to adjust to changes.
- Consider your overall budget. We will only maximize your bids if doing so fits within your ad budget. Striking a balance between bidding competitively and monitoring your budget can ensure that you do not deplete it too quickly and lose future leads.
We’ll put our experience with Google Local Service Ads for lawyers and Google Screened Ads to work to help you develop a customized bidding strategy that maximizes the performance and ROI of your Local Service Ads.
Track Data and Analytics
A successful Local Service Ad strategy requires some trial and error to perfect your ad content and precisely target your audience. Tracking data and analytics for your LSAs can help us approach this trial-and-error process strategically and efficiently for your law firm.
Through data tracking, we can better understand where your law firm is gaining the most value through your Local Service Ads and where you may be losing money, allowing us to make changes to your LSA strategy accordingly. We monitor three key metrics when analyzing LSA performance:
- Budget spent: The percentage of your total budget that you allocated to a specific ad
- Number of leads: The total number of potential clients the ad generated
- Cost per lead: The average amount spent on each lead
Part of this LSA monitoring process involves giving feedback to Google about the leads you received through your Local Service Ads. We’ll analyze the types of people Google showed your ad to and dispute any incorrect leads. This helps refine Google’s display algorithm for your ads and ensures that your business only pays for qualified leads.
The way that you respond to and act upon leads also influences your LSA rankings. We’ll help you create systems to properly archive and book any leads you receive through your Local Service Ads. Reaching out to leads quickly and disputing irrelevant leads is another important step in refining your ad strategy.
Making data-driven decisions about your Local Service Ads can take their performance to the next level. Trust our digital marketing experts to track your ads closely and adjust them according to the data.
Enhance SEO and Google Maps
While some parts of Google’s LSA ranking algorithm are a mystery, we’ve spent years piecing together the factors that seem to influence ad visibility.
Through our research, we found that Google’s algorithms for several different products, including LSAs, Google Maps, and search engine optimization (SEO), seem to be interconnected. Optimizing one of these products could benefit the others.
As a result, you need to consider your search engine optimization and Google Maps performance when trying to enhance your Local Service Ad performance. Thankfully, our team has expertise in all three areas and can curate an LSA strategy that also optimizes SEO and Google Maps for your law firm.
LSAs and Google Maps
Even though Local Service Ads and Google Maps are two different sections in Google search results, the reviews you receive on one platform could enhance your rankings on the other. Encouraging positive reviews on both platforms can create a feedback loop that boosts your visibility on both.
Additionally, the LSA algorithm prioritizes businesses with accurate information, including NAP data, which we will explain further in the next section. Having inaccurate NAP data on your Google Maps listing could negatively influence your LSA performance.
Fleshing out the content in your Google Maps profile could also benefit your LSA performance. Adding pictures of your law firm’s location, staff, and logo is a great first step.
LSAs and SEO
Your search engine optimization strategies may also impact your LSA rankings, and vice versa.
Having a high ranking within Google search results for relevant keywords could serve as a trust signal to the LSA platform. Google will see your law firm as a reliable option that has satisfied the needs of prospective clients in the past and could serve as a viable option for users looking for law firms in your area.
Your user engagement metrics on your website may influence both your SEO and your LSA rankings. When users spend more time on your site, your search engine rankings may increase, which may also influence your LSA performance.
Provide Consistent NAP Data
Google’s ranking algorithm prioritizes businesses that provide consistent, factual information about their contact methods and offerings. One element your law firm should always keep consistent is your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone) data.
Having consistent NAP data creates a foundation of trust and builds confidence in your law firm even outside of Google’s algorithms. You want potential clients to have no doubts about how to contact or locate your law firm. If they see two different phone numbers on your website or slight variations in your law firm name on your Google profile, they may have questions about your professionalism.
However, Google’s LSA algorithms seem to favor businesses with consistent NAP data. These three pieces of information need to be the exact same across all your Google products and listings, including:
- Google Maps
- Google Business Profile
- Local Service Ads
Our team will work with you to establish the correct, exact spellings and contact information your law firm wants to use. For example, do you want to use “Esq.” at the end of your law firm name? Will it start with “The Law Offices of” or just contain your name? Finalizing these decisions can prevent discrepancies and inaccuracies in the future.
Then, we will review your NAP data across all relevant platforms and correct any inconsistencies. We’ll also monitor your information long-term to correct any lingering mistakes that may arise.
Google values honesty and transparency. If your law firm tries to trick the system — intentionally or unintentionally — it could backfire within your LSA performance.
Maintain the Backend of LSAs
Local Service Ads aren’t really set-it-and-forget-it types of marketing strategies. Instead, they require ongoing updates and maintenance to ensure that they continue performing at their best for your law firm.
As part of your Local Service Ads strategy, we’ll perform regular backend checks of your ads to ensure that Google hasn’t flagged any issues or notified you of anything we need to change. Checking for issues regularly can allow us to fix any problems before they start affecting your ad performance.
Along with checking for errors, we’ll complete a few maintenance tasks on a routine basis to keep your LSAs and Google Screened Ads as effective as possible. These may include:
- License and certification updates: Law firms sometimes fall out of the top listings on LSA because their licenses and certifications have expired and they have not re-verified their information with Google. We’ll make sure your professional licenses and certifications stay up to date in your Google LSA account to avoid any issues.
- Profile updates: Any time your law firm experiences changes, such as hiring new attorneys, updating attorney bios, or taking new headshots, we will update your LSAs to reflect these adjustments. Google sometimes rejects assets like headshots for minor reasons, so we’ll check them often to make sure they stay compliant.
- Geographical adjustments: We’ll also make adjustments to your geographical targeting as needed, which we will touch on more in the next section.
- Budget adjustments: Updating your budget is a strategic way to bring in more leads when your LSA performance declines. If necessary, we’ll make changes to the bids for each ad, then wait at least six weeks before making other adjustments to adhere to Google’s algorithm preferences.
Maintaining the backend of your Local Service Ads is an important and often overlooked step in keeping them visible and competitive in search results. Our strategic adjustments will ensure that your law firm’s LSAs continue performing at their best long-term.
Consider Geographical Targeting
Local Service Ads generally target people in your local area. They show up when users search for phrases like “lawyer near me.” But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any control over which geographical locations see your ads.
Refining and optimizing your ad strategy involves careful geographical targeting. This practice makes sure that your ads reach the most relevant audience, showing up for people who are interested in your services and not appearing for those who aren’t.
You can go in two different directions with geographical targeting: specific counties vs. entire states. The approach we’ll use for your law firm depends on your goals, service area, types of legal services, and geographical spread of potential clients.
- Specific counties: We may target the specific counties that make up your service area if your law firm has a stronger presence in some areas than others, avoiding wasting ad spend on irrelevant locations.
- Whole state: If your business is looking to expand your service areas and break into a broader market, we may set your geographical targeting to the whole state instead of certain counties.
Although not as common, some law firms serve clients nationally. For this type of law firm, we may set the geographic parameters to “national” to broaden the target audience. Alternatively, we may create separate Local Service Ads and Google Screened Ads for different geographical areas, refining the audience.
If your law firm operates in multiple locations, Google Screened will need to verify each of these locations. We’ll take care of the application and verification process for you to ensure that your ads are visible in all of the correct areas.
Once we’ve determined the geographical targeting settings that are appropriate for your law firm, we’ll monitor them over time and may make adjustments based on performance. For example, if we try a whole-state approach with your law firm and it doesn’t produce the desired results, we may then narrow your target to certain counties.
Ten Golden Rules: Your Go-To Experts in Google Local Service Ads for Lawyers
Google Local Service Ads and Google Screened Ads can be valuable tools that bring more local clients to your law firm and ultimately grow your profitability. But from the information above, you may have also gleaned that they can be intricate, complex, finicky assets that require careful strategizing and ongoing adjustments.
When you work with Ten Golden Rules, you never need to worry about Local Service ads again. Our team will handle the entire process for you, from applying for Google Screened verification and creating your ad profile to optimizing all your ad settings and monitoring them long-term. We’ll use all of the strategies above to maximize your ROI and keep you at the top of Google search results, positioning your law firm as the best in your area.
Schedule your free session now for more about our digital marketing services for law firms.