Learning Center: Lawyer SEO, SEO for Lawyers

The Ultimate Guide to Google Local Service Ads for Lawyers

Using Google to find legal clients is a reliable strategy – but adding the right keywords to your online content isn’t enough to set your phones alight. You need to support your SEO marketing strategy with paid ads to push regular calls into your business. After all, 58% of legal…

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    Using Google to find legal clients is a reliable strategy – but adding the right keywords to your online content isn’t enough to set your phones alight.

    You need to support your SEO marketing strategy with paid ads to push regular calls into your business. After all, 58% of legal web traffic comes via paid search marketing.

    To do so, we recommend running local service advertising alongside traditional pay-per-click (PPC) ads; why?

    Local service ads drive an impressive 13.8% of all clicks from search engine result pages (SERPs), and in the legal niche, this number rockets to 33% of all clicks.[1] [2]

    On top of securing clicks, with optimized local service ads, you:

    • Only ever pay for legitimate leads
    • Get officially screened by Google
    • Drive warm leads into your firm without the hard sell


    Source

    Keep reading to learn more about why these ads are game-changers for lawyers, and feel free to use our table of contents to jump ahead.

    What Are Google Local Service Ads?

    Google local service ads, commonly known as LSAs, are paid advertisements that appear at the top of local Google search results.

    For example, when searching for "personal injury lawyer Chicago," Google presents a series of quick ads for local law firms in that area:

    These firms have set up Google local service ads for personal injury lawyers by submitting licensing and trading information to the search provider.

    LSAs have been around since 2015 as “Home Service Ads,” but they rebranded in 2019 and opened up to more businesses and areas across the USA.

    Important: Please note that local service ads for lawyers are only available in the USA as of November 2023. We will update this message as soon as Google introduces this service to other territories.

    Understanding Local Service Ads for Lawyers

    Local service ads differ from generic pay-per-click ads as they offer very specific details about your firm.

    Let's explore how they work in practice.

    How local service ads work

    LSAs appear when people search for a specific type of business and a location.

    They target people at the bottom of the sales funnel who already know what they're looking for and are close to choosing a law firm.

    LSAs give searchers the following information:

    1. Names of recommended local businesses
    2. Where they’re based
    3. Star ratings based on Google reviews
    4. Hours of operation

    They also offer a direct communication link, such as a “call” or “message” button when searching via mobile.

    Eligibility criteria for Google local services ads

    To qualify for LSA ads, you must pass a few credibility checks with Google.

    The quickest way to get started is to launch Google’s local service ads eligibility check tool, but it’s wise to know your options before you start the process.

    Google requires you to pass checks to ensure your business is legitimate and that you have a connecting, verified Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business account).

    Once you upload the information it requests, Google checks your details to verify you’re the owner of your business via its risk management partners.


    Source

    Remember, you must also hold applicable business insurance and any licenses your state requires. Moreover, Google reserves the right to restrict access to LSA services if your firm receives increasingly negative reviews.

    You can start the screening process if you specialize in:

    • 01
      Bankruptcy
    • 02
      Businesses
    • 03
      Contracts
    • 04
      Criminal Cases
    • 05
      Disability Cases
    • 06
      Estates
    • 07
      Family Law
    • 08
      Immigration
    • 09
      IP (Intellectual Properties)
    • 10
      Labor
    • 11
      Litigation
    • 12
      Malpractice
    • 13
      Personal Injury Claims
    • 14
      Real Estate And Housing
    • 15
      Taxation
    • 16
      Traffic

    The difference between local service ads and Google search ads

    The main difference between LSAs and Google Ads is how they appear at the top of a search engine results page (SERP).

    Here’s another example of how LSAs appear in search results:

    Google Ads for lawyers appear further down and provide a short blurb about a business to help convert searchers to click through or call:

    Both ads appear above Google Business Profiles and organic search results, the latter of which you can influence through search engine optimization (SEO).

    The Role of Google Local Services Ads in Legal Marketing

    LSAs are great for capturing 13.8% of SERP clicks, but you shouldn't rely on them solely to attract leads to your firm.

    They're ideally used as complementary marketing tools to attract people at the bottom of the sales funnel.

    LSAs trigger when people look for a specific type of service and a location. They don’t trigger easily when people look for solutions to problems.

    Instead, use SEO to target persuasive content toward people asking questions through search engines so you can warm them up and convert them later via your local services ads or your website. Local SEO for lawyers helps you focus on nearby prospects, too.

    You don’t get to choose keywords for LSAs either – Google decides which searches are most relevant to you.

    LSAs, although highly beneficial for an overall digital marketing strategy, can also be costly compared to other ad and optimization choices. It’s definitely not cost-effective to rely on them wholesale.

    Therefore, we recommend you verify your eligibility for LSAs with Google while running an SEO campaign and bidding for PPC ads. Doing so ensures you get triple the exposure.

    The Benefits of Using Local Services Ads for Lawyers

    LSAs are great additions to lawyer marketing campaigns, so let’s break down why.

    You only ever pay for warm leads

    Warmed-up leads are prospects who legitimately want to work with you. When they interact with a Google LSA, you only need to make the sale.

    You save costs on lead generation through LSAs compared to PPC because you only pay when someone calls or connects with you.

    In fact, compared to traditional lead flow in general, LSAs offer a far greater return on investment:

    Source

    You share lots of information in small spaces

    The average human attention span is just over eight seconds. You need to catch it in a flash.

    LSAs let you condense crucial information that prospects need to decide whether or not to call you. They're concise but easy on the eye; they catch attention and tell people what they need to know:

    Local service ads share crucial data for your searchers, including:

    • Star ratings
    • Opening hours
    • Service area
    • Contact details
    • How long you’ve been operating

    You can also describe your specialism in your business name to avoid all doubt that you’re relevant to the search. For instance, our client GDH adds “Family Law” to its full title.

    You can verify your ad as Google Screened

    Getting "Google Screened" means you get a badge to show that Google runs background checks on your firm.

    Google Screened verification reassures search engine users your firm carries a full lawyer license. There’s no need for Google to run separate background checks if you have Screened status.

    To top it all, getting Google Screened can improve your visibility in SERPs, meaning searchers see you before competing law firms.

    You compete equally with larger firms

    LSAs are beneficial for smaller and growing law firms since your budget has zero bearing on how you rank.

    Google lets you set weekly budgets based on the valid leads you can afford, and you don’t pay more than a monthly max rate.

    This system enables smaller firms to compete alongside larger companies. Google places companies on the same pedestal and never prioritizes ranking based on how much you pay.

    There’s also a good chance of you ranking higher than larger companies who don’t verify themselves for LSAs and rely on PPCs and SEO, giving you a competitive edge.

    LSAs are easy to maintain and budget for

    Unlike PPC campaigns, where you need to regularly tweak and bid for keywords, LSAs are much easier to manage. All you have to do is continue providing a good service to boost your star ratings.

    LSA budgeting is simple, too. As mentioned, you only pay for the leads (and not the clicks) you want, and Google stops serving ads once you exhaust your monthly cap.

    Setting Up Local Service Ads for Law Firms: A 12-Step Guide

    Let's take you through how to create local service ads step by step.

    Google local service ads for attorneys: Essential steps

    Step Main points
    1. Check your eligibility Fill out your law practice details so Google can check your authenticity
    2. Create a Google LSA profile Choose whether or not to associate your new LSA account with an existing Google profile
    3. Fill out your business details Confirm details like your company address, years of trading, number of employees, and languages spoken – Google uses these details in your ads
    4. Mark your service area and set your service types Set ZIP codes where your law firm practices so Google can deliver ads to local searchers
    5. Specify your business hours Decide when you can receive calls and messages, and people know when you are likely to respond
    6. Preview your LSA Check how your ad looks and decide if you want to make changes
    7. Add your headshot Edit and submit a clear photo of you or the lead lawyer to give your business a human touch
    8. Add your lawyer license Offer full license details to Google so it can check and verify your right to practice
    9. Start porting customer reviews Encourage happy clients to submit star ratings because Google ports reviews for you if you have a Google Business Profile
    10. Determine your bidding mode and budget Decide your maximum spend for ads to see how many leads Google generates for your budget
    11. Enter billing information Enter a valid payment card and read Google’s automatic payments policy so you know when billing occurs
    12. Add more lawyers Upload details on all other lawyers in your firm to add legitimacy and create a team profile alongside your LSA

    1. Check your eligibility

    Start by heading to the Google local services ads eligibility checker and start filling out the details requested:

    Then enter the following information:

    • Your country
    • Your state and ZIP code
    • Your job category from the drop-down box

    Next, check the “Get leads looking for general law help” box if it’s applicable to your firm. It means you’re willing to waive lead disputes with Google based on job or service type.

    For example, if you specialize in personal injuries but check the box and receive queries about family law, you can't get money back from Google for a "bad" lead.

    From here, check all the relevant practice boxes that apply to your law firm:

    Finally, click “Check Eligibility” and move to the next step.

    2. Create a Google LSA profile

    If you already have a Gmail address or an official company address associated with a Google account, you need to decide whether you’d like to associate it with your LSA profile or create a new one. Select the option that best suits your needs:

    Enter your desired Gmail address, choose the option that’s relevant to you, and click "Next."

    Note: If you are already logged into your Google account, you might skip this step and jump straight to step 3.

    3. Fill out your business details

    In the next stage, you need to fill out a full business profile to tell Google who you are and where you’re based:

    This is a separate form from your Google Business Profile, which we recommend you fill out and complete before starting this process.

    Google wants to know:

    • Your law firm name
    • Your contact number
    • Your website address (optional but recommended)
    • The first and last name of the owner
    • How many employees work in the firm
    • The year the company started
    • The business address and ZIP code
    • Languages spoken at the firm

    Google also asks if customers can visit your firm in person:

    Check “Yes” to tie your LSA to Google Maps, making it more visible across search services.

    If customers can’t visit or you decide not to disclose this information, Google keeps your ads visible but not prioritized within Google Maps.

    4. Mark your service area and set your service types

    The "Setup your service area" page lets you determine which ZIP codes you cater to

    Add as many ZIP codes as you want, and exclude service areas where appropriate. We recommend adding as many local ZIP codes as possible to maximize reach.

    When you’re ready, click “Next.”

    The “Select services you offer” screen that appears next lets you narrow down the specialized cases you work on within your practice.

    For instance, for a family law firm, you might see the following legal services, which include “Adoption,” “Paternity,” and “Property division”:

    Select all the service types that legitimately apply to your business. Then read the “Professional license verification” declaration and agree to the terms.

    By doing so, you confirm that you carry legal licenses to perform any work you promise through your local service ads. It’s down to you to maintain compliance.

    Agreeing to this also confirms with Google that you can provide proof of license or face ad suspension. We cover this in more detail in step eight.

    5. Specify your business hours

    On the next page, you need to tell Google when you're open for business or at least available to answer potential clients’ calls:

    Use the sliders to switch days on and off for when you can take calls. Don’t leave them all on by default, or you risk missing leads.

    Enter your opening hours using the boxes adjacent to the sliders. You can set 24-hour availability if you outsource call handling , for example. Once these details are correct, click “Next.”

    6. Preview your LSA

    Google now shows you what your ad looks like based on your details:

    Before you continue, check and agree to the terms listed below your preview ad. Always read Google's terms before clicking ahead and save a copy for your records. If you agree to Google’s terms, click “Next.”

    7. Add your headshot

    On the next screen, there is a list of additional options you can use to finish optimizing your LSA profile.

    Use "Headshot for your ad" to start the headshot process. At this stage, you submit a clear photo of the lead at your firm to help your company appear more human and relatable.

    Source[3]

    Click “Choose file” to search for a photo on your device or cloud drive.

    From here, Google lets you edit your photo to center and crop it as you wish. However, it must be a shot of one person's head and shoulders, and you can't add text.

    Source[3]

    Then allow Google to run a few checks to ensure your photo meets its guidelines before your LSA updates.

    8. Add your lawyer license

    It's important to add your lawyer license so Google can verify you're a legitimate practice and you can earn your Google Screened badge. More on that later.

    Click “Add details” in the “Lawyer License” box and supply the following information:

    • Your license registration status – set this to “Active” member and status with the State bar
    • Your first and last names
    • Your full license number
    • The date of expiry

    It can take a little time for Google to fully verify licenses to practice law, so allow for two to three business days before following up.

    Remember, this is just one license. If there’s more than one lawyer at your firm, you can add additional details. We cover this in step 12.

    Source[4]

    Click "Save" and wait for Google to respond for full verification.

    9. Start porting customer reviews

    The good news is if you enter your firm's details correctly and already have a Google Business Profile and Maps account associated, Google should start porting reviews and star ratings over from your customers in a few hours.

    Keep in mind, however, that you need at least one legitimate review for Google to start processing your LSAs.

    Be sure to share a direct link for customers to follow and leave you a rating. There’s a button that provides you with link options to share:

    Source[3]

    10. Determine your bidding mode and budget

    Bidding with LSA ads differs from bidding with PPC campaigns. You don’t place financial bids for specific keywords but simply agree to the maximum amount you can pay per lead.

    Under “Bidding and Budget,” you can choose between “Maximize Leads” and “Set Max Per Lead.”

    "Maximize Leads" gives Google control over how much you pay per lead within your budget. The idea is that Google sets what it believes is fair per lead, but many lawyers prefer to set max rates to retain control.

    To start, choose "Set Max Per Lead" and pick between a Google preset amount or set your own. When set to "0," Google advises the minimum you need to set your bids at.

    Source[3]

    Then click “Set your weekly budget” to decide the maximum amount of money you’re willing to spend each week on LSAs.

    Enter a number you can afford, and Google will advise how many leads you can roughly expect from that budget. Again, when set to "0," Google recommends a minimum.

    Err on the lower side when you're starting out. You can tweak this later to increase the number of guaranteed leads Google drives your way.

    Source[3]

    11. Enter billing information

    Before entering billing details, ensure you understand Google's payment thresholds policy. You set this threshold if you use automatic payments in your Google Ads console.

    Automatic payments take the amount you owe for LSAs whenever you breach the threshold. If you don’t meet this limit in a given month, Google charges you on the first of the next calendar month. Before selecting a threshold, please take a few minutes to read Google’s official advice on automatic payments.

    Continuing with your LSA, choose a valid payment card and add details in the appropriate screen (over a secure internet connection).

    Source[3]

    12. Add more lawyers

    If there’s more than one lawyer in your company, use the “Lawyers” tab and fill out each attorney’s:

    • Name
    • Email address
    • Active status with the State Bar
    • License number
    • License expiry date
    • Photo for headshot
    • Additional details (such as education and graduation year)

    Source[3]

    You can also toggle the “Feature this lawyer” option, which lets you present attorneys on your business profile, as seen here:

    Source[3]

    Click "Save" and wait for Google to verify your profile over the next two days.

    5 Tips for Maximizing LSA Performance

    Now that you know how to set up local service ads for law firms, here are some tips on making the most of them to drive warm leads into your business.

    Making the most of legal service ads for lawyers

    Tip to follow Quick summary
    Encourage positive reviews Ask satisfied clients to leave star ratings and reviews to improve your LSA’s score and appear more appealing to future searchers
    Become Google Screened Complete Google’s requests during the sign-up process and agree to license checks to gain an authoritative Google Screened badge
    Prioritize responsiveness Offer attentive client service to improve your star ratings and potentially boost LSA visibility
    Monitor and adjust your local service ad campaign Track and sort leads and adjust your LSA campaign (i.e., increase bidding for more leads) to appeal to more clients and get more value from your ads
    Dispute irrelevant leads Report time wasters and leads through ads that don’t relate to your business; Google could refund you for your ad spend

    1. Encourage positive reviews

    Positive reviews are always important, but in local search ads, searchers see your average star rating and how many people rate you at a glance.

    Start actively pursuing positive reviews for your law firm at the right time, i.e., at the end of a positive case wrapping up.

    If you already have a strong Google Business Profile with several positive reviews, these start porting over to your LSA within days of Google verifying and approving your account.

    Make it easy for people to review your business, too – remember, you can share direct review links via the LSA process. Then ​​encourage more reviews by responding supportively to all ratings you receive. This strategy not only helps to encourage more reviews but also boosts your profile with Google.

    Finally, don't forget to audit your reviews and check if any are missing. There's a process to follow if your Google reviews are disappearing, so be sure to check you’re getting rated fairly.

    2. Become Google Screened

    As mentioned earlier in our guide, a Google Screened badge adds extra legitimacy to your law firm and reassures searchers that Google has approved your offering. You're building trust, assuring credibility, and gaining visibility.

    To earn a Google Screened badge, you need to complete certain verification steps in the LSA setup process, which we covered above.

    Source[5]

    Google can take a few weeks to fully verify your LSA profile as Google Screened, but you can track your progress.

    To get Google Screened, you need to:

    1. Supply a clear headshot
    2. Upload details on a main license and licenses for all lawyers working at your firm
    3. Provide bar license details for each lawyer
    4. Supply at least one customer review rated at least three stars
    5. Agree to background checks

    Once your verification is complete, your Google Screened button helps you stand out from rival LSAs.

    3. Prioritize responsiveness

    Google doesn't reveal its complete recipe for ranking LSA ads, but responding quickly and legitimately to customer reviews and lead forms helps boost your profile on SERPs.

    Be ready to respond to direct contact and any concerns left in reviews. The more proactive you are in helping prospective clients, the faster you'll gain star ratings to boost your LSAs.

    Ideally, respond to queries and reviews within a day of receiving contact. Fast responses help clients feel more valued and more confident in their choice of law firm.

    4. Monitor and adjust your local service ad campaign

    While you can leave LSAs to drive leads into your business more autonomously than PPC campaigns, it's worth managing your ads through your local services ads account or with the official local services ads app available for Android and iOS.

    Your LSA manager helps you:

    1. Track new and active leads
    2. Check leads for updates (such as bookings)
    3. Spot concluded and inactive leads
    4. Sort customers by service needs
    5. Trace client locations and contact methods

    Use your central account to follow up with open leads via text, email, or phone calls to ensure you’re keeping customers engaged.

    Then consider adjusting your LSA setup over time if you're not getting the results you want from your campaigns. For instance, to adjust and improve your conversion rates and boost your leads, you could:

    • Change your bid amounts or switch to Google-recommended bidding
    • Add more lawyers to your firm if applicable
    • Encourage more reviews from positive cases
    • Add additional service and job areas

    5. Dispute irrelevant leads

    If you receive leads through LSA campaigns you feel are irrelevant to your business, and you haven’t agreed to accept general queries from searchers and prospects, Google might allow you to dispute charges.

    Google typically takes a week to process lead disputes, and you can launch them through your central LSA lead inbox.

    Look for the hamburger menu (the three-line icon) in your inbox and select “Leads,” then the lead you want to query. Then select "Dispute" and why you'd like to query it. Add details about your complaints to the notes section provided.

    If you're successful, Google typically credits you for disputed leads within 40 days of your request. However, if Google returns to your request and decides your claim is invalid, its decision remains final.

    Use Local Service Ads for Lawyers to Get Seen by Clients Who Need You

    Local service ads have revolutionized the way law firms drive clients into their businesses. They’re great at bringing in warm leads who know what they want but aren’t 100% sure who to partner with.

    With local service ads for lawyers, you can:

    • Show local searchers who you are and what you do
    • Encourage direct calls from warmed-up leads
    • Keep track of different leads and their journeys with you
    • Leave the hard sell behind

    As part of a broader marketing campaign with a strong SEO and PPC strategy, these ads help you nurture and capture law firm leads at every stage of the sales funnel.


    Source

    However, creating and optimizing the kind of local service ads law firms rely on is a time-consuming process. That’s why we suggest reading up on what to consider in a marketing and SEO agency for law firms and finding expert support.

    When you’re ready to reach out, remember that a free consultation with NOVO is just a few clicks away – we’re on hand to support you with SEO, PPC, local service ads, and content marketing.

    Google Local Services Ads for Lawyers FAQs

    Let's look at some popular questions lawyers ask when setting up LSAs for the first time.

    What kinds of advertising do lawyers most commonly use?

    Lawyers use a variety of different marketing tools to promote their legal services online. For the best results, law firms use search engine optimization, pay-per-click ads, and local service ads to appeal to prospective clients at different conversion stages.

    How much do local service ads for lawyers cost?

    Research suggests local service ads for lawyers could cost up to $340 per lead. However, this varies depending on your practice, the services you have to offer, and the areas you practice in.

    What’s the difference between Google Guaranteed and Google Screened ads?

    A Google Screened ad applies to a law firm fully verified as legitimate by Google. Google Guarantee badges apply to verified services and companies that agree for Google to reimburse unhappy customers. You can read more about Google Screened in our guide above.

    What influences LSA rankings?

    The best way to influence your LSA rankings is to provide a responsive, proactive service to customers, encourage positive reviews, and list as much detail as possible on your local service ad profile. Take a look at our guide on maximizing your LSAs above.

    Can you choose which keywords trigger LSAs?

    You can’t choose the keywords that trigger LSAs because they are triggered by the searcher's location and your law niche. By listing your law firm in Chicago, however, you could appear with an LSA for searches under keywords like “Chicago family lawyers.”

    What is the difference between Google ads and local service ads

    Local service ads are short business badges that appear at the top of search listings, while Google Ads are paid advertisements that appear below LSAs but above organic search results. We go into more detail in our guide above.

    Sources

    1. Murphy, Rosie. (October 19, 2018). "Local Services Ads Click Study". BrightLocal. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
      https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-services-ads-click-study/
    2. Green, Matt. (April 29, 2021). "How Google Local Service Ads for Lawyers Impact Consumer Click Distribution". JurisDigital. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
      https://jurisdigital.com/click-study-google-local-service-ads-lawyers/
    3. Dreyer, Chris. "Complete Guide to Local Services Ads for Lawyers". Rankings.io. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
      https://rankings.io/blog/local-services-ads-for-lawyers
    4. Parks, Jason. (August 27, 2020). "How To Set-Up Google Local Service Ads For Attorneys". The Media Captain. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
      https://www.themediacaptain.com/google-local-service-ads-for-personal-injury-lawyers/
    5. Dimka, Dennis. (January 17, 2023). "Local Service Ads for Lawyers: 9 Steps to Guarantee More Quality Leads". Uptime JurisPage. Retrieved October 28, 2023.
      https://www.inboundlawmarketing.com/local-service-ads-lawyers/