Beyond Google Search: Do Local Service Ads Fit Your Law Firm?

If you’ve dabbled in learning online marketing for law firms, chances are you’ve encountered Google Ads, formerly Google Adwords. This pay-per-click system allows you to bid on keywords related to your products or services so that your ads appear alongside organic search results. While Ads is a powerful tool, they are increasingly complex and competitive. Getting the most from your Google Ads campaign requires a good bit of skill, some experience, and an understanding of the terms your target market uses when searching for products like the ones you offer. Local Service Ads might offer additional benefits to consider as a way to reach your market through search.

local search ads
Image courtesy of Wordstream

This is where Local Service Ads (LSAs) come into the picture. These ads function using a distinctly different model than traditional Google Ads campaigns. Understanding how they work and the potential risks and rewards they offer is essential for any business considering this form of paid advertising. For law firms, you have the additional concerns unique to your industry, including ethical guidelines established by the Bar Association, which regulates the industry.

Why law firm marketing is different

Marketing your law firm is slightly different from marketing other types of businesses, which negates the value of some forms of advertising. For instance, lawyers can’t provide anything of value to anyone who recommends their services, which means influencer marketing isn’t an option. Lawyers are also held to a higher standard when it comes to what they say in their ads, especially the types of law they offer as specialties. The standard for misleading statements put forth by the Bar Association limits the type of puffery commonly used by other businesses, such as Starbucks saying they have the best coffee in the ad below.puffery

What makes LSAs different

Unlike traditional Google Ads that blend in with organic search results, Local Service Ads occupy a coveted position at the very top of the search results page. This premium placement gives your law firm unparalleled visibility, especially for those crucial “near me” searches on mobile devices.

LSAs also carry a unique badge of trust – the Google Guarantee. This means that Google has vetted your firm, including conducting background checks and verifying insurance information.  For potential clients seeking legal help, this added layer of reassurance can be a major deciding factor when choosing who to contact.

Another key difference is that Local Service Ads are laser-focused on local searches. This hyper-local targeting is ideal for most law firms, as clients typically seek attorneys within a specific geographical area. With LSAs, you won’t be wasting your advertising budget on potential leads who are located hundreds of miles away.

Ideal candidates for LSAs

Local Service Ads can be particularly beneficial for law firms specializing in practice areas where clients often need urgent assistance. Think criminal defense, DUI attorneys, or family law practices dealing with sensitive custody matters.  When someone is facing a legal crisis, they’re likely to choose the firm they can reach immediately. The immediacy and prominent placement of LSAs play perfectly to this sense of urgency.

Additionally, LSAs can be a game-changer for newer or smaller law firms operating in highly competitive markets. In areas saturated with established firms, breaking through in organic search results can be difficult. LSAs offer a way to bypass some of that SEO grind and get your firm in front of potential clients actively searching for your services.

The true cost of pay per lead for lawyers

The “pay per lead”  model of Local Service Ads can be both attractive and a cause for concern for law firms. At first glance, it seems like a win-win. You only pay when a potential client actually contacts you, eliminating the risk of spending money on clicks that don’t turn into consultations.

However, it’s crucial to remember that not all leads are created equal. With LSAs, you’re charged the moment someone calls, messages, or requests a quote – regardless of whether they ultimately become a paying client. This means your firm’s ability to convert leads into clients directly impacts the cost-effectiveness of LSAs. Firms with a strong track record of closing consultations might find local service ads for lawyers to be a very profitable investment. Conversely, if your intake process is inefficient, or you struggle to qualify leads,  you could end up spending a significant amount on “tire kickers.”

Another factor to consider is budgeting. Unlike traditional Google Ads,  LSAs offer less granular control over your daily ad spend. Costs can fluctuate based on local demand and competition. This means having a realistic budget in mind and closely monitoring your results to avoid unpleasant surprises is essential.

Why lawyers are wary of LSAs

It’s understandable that some lawyers approach Local Service Ads with a healthy dose of skepticism. Unfortunately, the legal industry has a checkered history with lead generation services.  Many firms have been burned by companies promising a flood of qualified leads,  only to deliver tire-kickers or clients located outside the practice area. This negative stigma can make lawyers hesitant to try even a reputable platform like LSAs.

Another concern is the loss of control that comes with LSAs. Unlike traditional Google Ads, you can’t customize your ad copy or fine-tune your keyword targeting. This lack of flexibility can be frustrating for firms that have invested heavily in their own SEO efforts and are accustomed to a high degree of optimization.

Finally, there’s the ever-present “Google factor.” Entrusting such a crucial aspect of your business as lead generation to a third party, especially one as massive as Google, gives some attorneys pause. Concerns about potential changes to the LSA platform, unpredictable pricing, or lack of personalized support are all valid reasons why a law firm might be cautious about becoming too reliant on LSAs.

Conclusion: LSAs as a tool in the marketing toolbox

Local Service Ads shouldn’t be viewed as a magic bullet for law firm marketing.  Instead,  think of them as a powerful tool that might be the right fit for your firm’s specific needs and goals. For new firms struggling to gain visibility or those in highly competitive niches,  LSAs can provide a much-needed boost while longer-term strategies like SEO take hold.

It’s also important to remember that LSAs don’t exist in a vacuum. To maximize their effectiveness, a well-designed website that’s optimized for lead conversion is crucial. Even the best ad won’t generate paying clients if your website fails to build trust or provide a clear path to contacting your firm.

Before diving headfirst into Local Service Ads, take some time to research them thoroughly. Seek out resources specifically focused on LSAs for law firms. A few blogs, such as LawLytics or Comrade Digital Marketing, offer in-depth analysis and insights into this unique marketing channel. By taking an informed approach, you’ll be better equipped to decide if LSAs are a smart addition to your firm’s marketing toolbox.

Need marketing help to support business growth?

We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies.  Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.

Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.