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Local Service Ads for Lawyers

What are Local Service Ads?

Local Service Ads are beginning to expand into new verticals and markets, so lawyers don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of this new form of advertising. LSAs help you connect with people who search on Google for the services you offer. Your ads will show up for customers in your area, and you only pay if a customer contacts you directly through the ad. This means you can focus on real results for your business.

Local Service Ads are currently available for law firms in select locations and practice areas. While Google still has a limited offering on this platform for law firms, we believe it will expand in the near future. It is currently being offered to Estate Lawyers and Immigration Lawyers in Houston and San Diego. These ads appear at the top of the search results (above Google Ads, Google Maps 3-pack, and organic search results) on both desktop and mobile. The ads display the company name, review rating, city, phone number, and hours of operation.

What else should I know about Local Service Ads?

Placement

LSAs appear at the top of the search results (above Google Ads, Google Maps 3-pack, and organic search results) on both desktop and mobile. They contain important information including reviews and contact information for 3 potential local companies with a link to view a full business profile.

Cost

The law firm pays a flat fee for each call instead of each click, giving them greater control over their advertising costs and allowing them to pay only when they generate a lead.

Vetting

Google performs various background checks on a business before their LSA ads can be active. For lawyers to use Local Service Ads, they must complete a business background check. Google will also verify proper licensing and insurance coverage. The ads will feature a “Google Screened” badge if the business is verified.

Google Guarantee

For many licensed providers (not law firms), Google is putting a “Google Guarantee” enhancement on the ad. Google guarantees satisfaction with services rendered, up to $2000.

Reviews

Local Service Ads feature client reviews directly in the ad. We believe it may be possible that that reviews impact the ranking of Local Service Ads. Regardless if they do or don’t, it will be important to have positive reviews for your business since they are shown front and center.

Interaction

LSAs allow a potential customer to connect directly to a business. A prospect can reach out to the business directly through the ad with click-to-call functionality and web based email forms. Google will charge the business for delivering a lead when contact is made.

Detailed Business Profile

Whenever you click on a Local Service Ad, the user will be taken to a business profile page that contains additional information about the company and encourages them to call or make contact. This is all done directly on Google and businesses are only charged when there is contact between a potential client and the firm, not just when someone is looking through the business profile.

How are LSAs different from Google Ads and Google My Business?

It’s important to mention that Local Service Ads are separate from Google Ads and Google My Business, although there are some correlations. A Local Service Ad and a Google Ads Campaign can run at the same time but they don’t depend on each other. Their budgets are independent of each other and one campaign can run while the other one is paused. Local Services has a separate dashboard, so you don’t manage the campaign through Google Ads. With that being said, a Google Ads account is required for Local Services but it’s only for billing purposes.

A Local Service Ad is normally associated with a GMB listing, but it isn’t required. However, when it is connected to GMB it will feature reviews from the business listing which can attract potential customers.

How do Law Firms Start Using Local Service Ads?

If you are not currently a law firm in the LSA test markets, there are some steps you can take now that will improve your existing online presence and better prepare for utilizing LSAs when they do become available.

The first priority is to generate more positive reviews. Google is providing three law firms with the top spots on Google SERPs through Local Service Ads. The businesses with the most and/or highest reviews are likely to get the most action.

The second priority is to optimize your Google My Business listing. If you haven’t already, make sure your business listing is verified. Once that is done, you need to fill it out with relevant information. The current LSAs are pulling business information, reviews, and photos from the firm’s Google My Business listing.

Finally, you will want to ensure that the intake process for your business is organized and dependable. Since you will be paying per lead, you will want to have 100% confidence that your phones will be answered by a person in a timely manner. The person answering the phone should be able to qualify the lead, schedule consultations, and discuss what the intake process is going to be like for the client.

By gaining positive reviews, optimizing our Google My Business listing, and organizing your intake process, you will be prepared to take advantage of Local Service Ads as they become available for your practice area in your market. We are staying on top of this new advertising platform and will notify our clients as it expands. Contact us today If you would like more information or would like help preparing for Local Service Ads now!


Google My Business Verification and Optimization Guide

Google My Business Verification and Optimization Guide

One of the largest influencing factors on gaining local visibility on Google is the verification and optimization of your Google My Business listing. When people search for a lawyer near them they’re usually looking to hire someone, so it’s important the information about your business that shows up on Google is as accurate and optimized as possible.

What is Google My Business?

GMB is a free tool that allows you to manage your business information and lets you connect with customers across Google Search and Maps. GMB listings allow you to:

  • Add your contact information
  • Upload photos
  • Create a compelling business description to entice customers to contact your law firm
  • Display your hours of operation
  • Answer frequently asked questions
  • Monitor and reply to reviews that customers leave on Google for your business

These functions allow you to exert some control over what appears when potential clients search for your firm.

Why You Need a Google My Business Listing

If you are interested in boosting your local online presence, Google My Business is a great place to start. According to Search Engine RoundTable, Google has reported that 46% of all searches have local intent. If someone is looking to hire a lawyer, they may do a search for a “personal injury lawyer near me” or “Austin car accident attorney.” Focusing your efforts on the free-to-use Google My Business platform will not only allow potential customers to find your business online, but it will ensure that the information they see is correct.

In addition, Moz’s list of local search ranking factors shows Google My Business as one of the top-ranking factors in local map search and in local organic search.

How to Verify Your Google My Business Listing

Create a Google My Business Listing

  1. Log in to the Google Account you want associated with your business (or create a Google Account if you don’t already have one).
  2. Visit google.com/business and select “Manage now” in the top right-hand corner.
  3. Enter your business’s name.
  4. Enter your business address.
  5. Select a business category. Try to choose the most accurate category possible. For the legal field, you can choose categories like Personal Injury Attorney, Criminal Justice Attorney, Employment Attorney, Bankruptcy Attorney, etc.
  6. Input your phone number and website.
  7. Select a verification option.

There are several ways to verify your GMB listing. Here are the different options:

  • Postcard
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Instant verification
  • Bulk verification

Postcard

For this verification option, you will want to make sure your address is listed correctly. You can add a contact name that the postcard will be addressed to. The postcard will be mailed to the business location and will typically arrive within 5 days. Once you receive the postcard, log back into your Google My Business account and select “Verify now”. In the code field, enter the five-digit verification code that is listed on your postcard and click “Submit”.

If you don’t receive the postcard, you can request a new code by signing into GMB and clicking the “Request another code” button.

Phone

Some businesses are able to verify their location by phone. If you are eligible, you will see the option when you start the verification process. Make sure the phone number is correct before you verify the listing. You will be given a code through an automated message. Enter the code into your GMB dashboard.

Email

Some businesses are able to verify their location by email. If you’re eligible, you will see the option when you start the verification process. Make sure the email is correct before you verify the listing. You will need to sign in to the email address that the verification was sent to and click the verification button in the email from GMB.

Instant Verification

If you have already verified your business using the Google Search Console, you may be eligible for instant verification under the same email address. All you need to do is sign into GMB with the same email that you used to verify your business in Google Search Console. If you are eligible, you will see the notification for instant verification. If you don’t, it means that the category for your business isn’t eligible at this time.

Bulk Verification

If you have more than 10 locations for the same business, you may be eligible for bulk verification. To do this, sign in to your GMB account, select one of your locations and click “Get verified”. You will then click “Chain” and fill out the verification form with your business name country where you operate, all contact names who will be using the GMB account, phone number, business manager email (someone at the business who can verify you’re a representative of that business), and the email address of your Google Account Manager. You will submit this verification form and it can take up to a week for it to be reviewed and processed by Google.

How to Optimize Your GMB Listing

Once you have verified your business listing, you will need to optimize it by filling it out completely.

One thing to note is that anyone can suggest an edit to your business listing, even your competitors. When a searcher clicks on your business listing, there will be a “Suggest an edit” button. This will allow them to not only suggest edits to your listing, but the changes can actually be made live without you being notified. It is very important that you sign in to your GMB dashboard on a regular basis to ensure no one has made any unwanted changes.

Here are the different areas of the profile that you should fill out:

Info Section

Business Name

Make sure your business name is consistent with how it listed on your website and across all online directories.

Categories

Make sure the Primary Category is as specific as possible.You can list additional categories that apply under the primary category. For instance, if you are a personal injury lawyer, you will want to put Personal Injury Attorney as the primary category. You can list Law Firm, Lawyer, Legal Services, etc under it.

Address

Make sure your address is correct. If you are in a suite, you can include the suite number on the Address 2 line. If you are located in the same building as other attorneys, this can help differentiate your law firm from the rest.

Hours

Enter your business hours, including special hours for holidays, to let potential customers know when they can reach you and when they can visit your location.

Phone Number

Your primary number should be a local business number. You can add a toll-free number as a secondary phone number.

TIP: If you are using a tracking number for your GMB listing, make sure it has a local area code and is listed as the primary number. You will list your actual office phone number as the second number so that Google can still crawl it and see that it is consistent with the phone number on your website and other online directories.

Website

Enter the URL for your business website.

TIP: If you have a multi-location business, you can enter the location page on your website if one exists. You will want to send visitors to the most relevant page on the site for each specific location.

Services

Enter a full list of services your company provides. This will tell Google and anyone who sees the listing what your business does.

Description

GMB allows 750 characters in the business description, but only 250 characters will show up when someone views your business listing in the Knowledge Panel.

TIP: Because of this, you will want to make sure that you put the most important information at the top. This would include priority keywords and your city. Make sure to follow these business description guidelines provided by Google.

Opening Date

Add the opening date so that searchers know how long you have been in business.

Photos & Videos

One thing you don’t want to forget to do is to add photos and videos to your GMB listing. It will make the listing more engaging and will allow the searcher to learn more about your business. According to Google, businesses that have photos on their listing see 35% more clicks to their website. There are various types of photos you can add such as your logo, cover photo, interior and exterior photos, team photos, and more.

Photos should be at least 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high and JPG or PNG files. Videos can be up to 30 seconds long, up to a 100 MB file size, and a resolution of 720p or higher. Videos should be taken at the business location, include people who work at the business, or directly pertain to the business.

Google Posts

Google Posts are social media posts that show up in the Knowledge Panel when someone searches for your business. You can take advantage of making the post more engaging by adding a photo, call-to-action, and a link to your website. Google Posts are live for 7 days and then you must post a new one. This is a great way to stand out from your competitors, drive traffic to your website, and inform potential customers of company events, special promos, events, and additional information about your business.

Q & A

Questions & Answers is a great feature on GMB that allows people to ask questions about your business that you can answer.

If you want to be proactive, you can create a list of frequently asked questions with the appropriate answers. Keep in mind that anyone can answer the questions posted by users about your business. You will want to make sure you closely monitor new questions that are posted and answer them as quickly as possible. If someone else answers a question and it isn’t accurate, you can reach out to the Google My Business support forums.

GMB Reviews

Online reviews are extremely important and can help you stand out from your competitors. They appear on your business listing, so it is vital that you are continuously working towards getting a larger number of positive reviews. In addition to obtaining reviews, it’s important to reply to all of your reviews. Not only does this show appreciation for the customer who left the review, but it also shows others that you are actively engaging with your listing and influences others to leave a review.

Online reviews have been known to impact local search rankings, click-through-rates, and consumer trust levels. In a study conducted by BrightLocal, they found the following key statistics:

  • 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
  • Consumers read an average of 10 reviews before trusting a local business
  • 91% of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 57% of consumers will only use a local business if it has 4 or more stars
  • 89% of consumers read the responses to reviews left by the business owner

The Importance of Google My Business

On Google My Business, you can control how your business information is displayed on Google and Google Maps, so don’t miss out on this free business tool in order to gain more local visibility. Remember that Google is always looking at the business owner engagement and the engagement of searchers on your GMB listing, so it is important to continually interact with it.

Shea Benedict. President of Operations, The Search Engine Guys (A Division of Cloud 8 Sixteen, Inc.)
The Search Engine Guys is a leader in the Digital Marketing Space for the past 12 years.

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