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Local Service Ads for Lawyers: The Art of Being Noticed

Transform your law firm with Local Service Ads for Lawyers (LSAs) and become Google Screened for unparalleled success! Stand out from your competitors and change the game!

20 min
Jul 28, 2023

If you're looking to differentiate your law practice and improve your connection with prospective clients, leveraging Local Service Ads for Lawyers (LSAs) is an excellent strategy. In the highly competitive legal market, it's crucial to stand out, and that's where 'Google Screened for Lawyers' comes into play.

This relative newcomer to the online marketing field is the best tool to hit the scene since pay-per-click ads, and is sure to help your firm boost its revenue.

In this comprehensive guide, we help you understand local service ads for attorneys so that you can get noticed by potential clients. We cover everything from what local service ads for lawyers are to how your law firm benefits from getting "Google Screened".

What Are Local Services Ads and How Do LSAs for Lawyers Work?

Google's Local Service Ads, alternatively referred to as "Local Services Ads," are a specific paid advertising model that you can use to market legal services to potential clients in your area. Local service ads for lawyers are a type of pay-per-click (PPC) ad that appears at the top of Google search results for relevant local searches. They are a great way to get your law firm in front of potential clients who are looking for your services.

What Are Local Services Ads
Local service ads example

As you likely know, pay-per-click (PPC) ads typically appear at the very top of search engine results pages (SERPs) when users conduct a query that does not contain specific locations or location-based terms like "near me." Organic search results are located below the top three PPC ads.

If users conduct a location-specific query, such as "DUI lawyer in Atlanta," they will be bombarded by results featuring local law firms. The first SERP's layout and structure will also look much different. While PPC advertisements will still supersede organic results, two other types of listings will be present.

Local service ads example
Local service ads example

You will find a directory of relevant Google Business profiles (formerly Google My Business profiles) between the PPC results and the organic listings. You will also find that the coveted space at the very top of the results page contains Local Services Ads for lawyers.

That's right, Local Service Ads have dethroned PPC advertisements and assumed the number one spot when users conduct queries for local services. They are displayed above all others on the search engine results page, including PPC content. Local Service Ads for law firms are very similar to PPC content, with a few exceptions.

Local Service Ads for law firms are very similar to PPC content, with a few exceptions:

  • First, law firms must have a screened Google Business Profile business account to post ads about their local services.
  • Secondly, the Local Service Ads platform serves as a paid directory listing for law firms.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the Local Service Ads model bills law firms for leads, not clicks — but more on that in the next section.

What Makes Local Services Ads for Lawyers a Game-Changer?

The Local Service Ads advertising model is by no means the only way to market your law firm. However, it does offer several advantages that can help you take your law firm's digital marketing strategy to new heights if you leverage this platform strategically:

  • Leveling the Playing Field: Smaller law firms can effectively compete with larger firms using Local Service Ads. The biggest difference between LSA and other Google advertising services is that your budget has no bearing on your ranking when using Local Service Ads.
  • Paying for Real Leads: Unlike Google Ads, Local Service Ads charge law firms based on leads acquired, not clicks, ensuring better control over your marketing budget and reducing spending on irrelevant leads.
  • Trust Badge: Google Screened: Completing the screening process earns your law firm a green check mark and the "GOOGLE SCREENED" emblem, building trust and making potential clients more comfortable reaching out.
  • Prominent Visibility: When determining which LSA listings to display in response to a person's search, Google places a huge emphasis on proximity. Google's algorithm does not place as much value on proximity when displaying other types of advertising content. Moreover, business listings in the LSA section will appear above all other results. Since the items at the top of SERPs garner a large percentage of traffic, this attribute makes Local Services Ads for lawyers a valuable marketing tool.
  • Comprehensive Firm Details: Users will see essential information about your law firm, such as the firm name, "GOOGLE SCREENED" checkmark, Google Review rating, hours of operation, and years in business, increasing visibility and credibility.

What Types of Lawyers Qualify for Google Local Services Ads?

When Google Local Service Ads were first launched, it was only made available to law firms in a handful of practice areas. However, Google has significantly expanded the Local Service Ads program and has now made it available to law firms in a broad range of practice areas, including:

If your law firm operates in any of the aforementioned practice areas, then you can incorporate Local Services Ads into your overall digital marketing strategy.

How to Get Started with Google Local Service Ads for Your Law Firm

Now that we've outlined the benefits of Local Service Ads for lawyers, you are probably ready to launch your own campaign. If you want to get started with Local Service Ads, all you need to do is follow these five simple steps:

Step 1: Visit the Google Local Services Ads Sign-up Page to Get Started

To get started with Google Local Service Ads for lawyers, simply visit the sign-up page and click “Continue.”

Google Local Services Ads start page
Google Local Services Ads start page

Step 2: Check Whether You Are Eligible for LSA

The next step is verifying your eligibility for Google's Local Services Ads program. After clicking "Get Started," provide your law firm's location details and select a service category. Choose your specific practice areas, such as "family law," from the available options.

eligibility check example
LSA eligibility check page

Step 3: Set Up Your Local Services Ads Profile

Local Service Ads profile example
Local Service Ads profile example

After clicking on the "Get Started" button and confirming eligibility, you will be prompted to provide some details about your law firm. Google will ask for information such as:

  • The name of your law firm
  • Your business address
  • Your website address
  • The first and last name of the law firm's founder
  • When your law firm was founded
  • Your business phone number
  • The total number of attorneys employed by your firm
  • Whether clients can meet with staff on-site

Step 4: Mark Your Service Area

After providing business details, you will have the opportunity to designate which areas you want to serve. Google will display an interactive map so that you can add service areas adjacent to the zip code of your law firm. You can select as many zip codes as needed.

location settings in Google Local Services Ads
An example of location settings in Google Local Services Ads

Step 5: Pick Your Service Types on Google's Local Service Ads

In the next window, you will be asked to select your service types. Make sure that the options you select align with the practice areas you selected on the "Eligibility" menu. Some common examples of service types included in this section are "auto accidents," "workers' compensation," and "dog bites."

An example of service type specifications for local ads
An example of service type specifications for local ads

Step 6: Specify Your Business Hours

The final window in the profile setup section is the "Business hours" menu. You will be prompted to specify on which days and during which times your business is open.

Business hours settings examples for local ads
Business hours settings examples for local ads

A Key Step in Local Service Ads for Lawyers: What Is Google Screened Badge?

The Google Screened badge is a significant trust factor that Google offers to specific professional service providers, including law firms. It serves as an assurance to potential clients that the law firm has been thoroughly vetted and meets Google's high standards for professionalism and legitimacy.

The badge is part of Google's Local Services Ads, which are designed to help local businesses connect with customers who are searching for the services they offer. When a law firm earns a Google Screened badge, it is prominently displayed in the firm's Local Service Ads, helping the firm stand out in search results and gain the trust of potential clients.

How Lawyers Can Benefit from Becoming Google Screened?

There are several benefits to becoming Google Screened for lawyers:

  • Improved search ranking: Law firms that are Google Screened and run local services ads gain premium visibility as they appear at the very top of search results. This positioning is above all organic search results and pay-per-click ads, drawing more traffic to your website and increasing the likelihood of potential clients contacting your office.
  • Maximized local reach: The Google Screened badge for your law firm ensures your Local Service Ads reach people in your area who are actively seeking your services – the right people at the right time.
  • Increased lead generation: Local service ads that have the Google Screened badge appear higher in search results, which significantly boosts the number of leads your local service ads will generate by enhancing your visibility and credibility.
  • Builds trust: The "Google Screened" for lawyers is earned through a license verification process. This badge serves as an automatic trust builder, instantly boosting your credibility among prospects and increasing the likelihood of them choosing your firm for their legal needs.

Step 7: Get a "Google Screened" Badge for Your Law Firm

Getting Google Screened for lawyers is an integral part of setting up Local Service Ads for lawyers. The process is free, but it does require several steps and resources to navigate successfully. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Sign up for Local Services Ads: This is the platform where you will be able to apply for the Google Screened program.
  2. Submit your law firm details: Provide comprehensive details about your law firm and all the practicing lawyers. Each lawyer's bar license information needs to be submitted as Google verifies all active law licenses for firms with the Google Screened badge.
  3. Prepare a headshot for the ads: This will be displayed in your Local Services Ads, adding a personal touch and helping potential clients connect with your firm.
  4. Ensure a customer review score of 3+: Google will look at your customer reviews and ratings linked to your Google Business Profile account to ensure a positive reputation. Your firm must have a score of 3 or above to qualify.
  5. Undergo a background check: Agree to a background check on your law firm’s founder and each practicing lawyer by a third party. However, a separate background check is not required for U.S. law firms as each state requires lawyers to undergo a background check to receive a license to practice law.
  6. License Verification: Google or its partners will verify your professional licenses.
  7. Insurance Verification: Some categories of businesses may be required to provide proof of insurance.
Google screened LSA account
An example of a Google screened LSA account

The verification process can take between 2-5 weeks, and it may take longer if there are multiple lawyers at your firm, but once you've completed these steps and become "Google Screened", your law firm will stand out in search results with a trust-enhancing badge.

Step 8: Provide a Headshot

The first item on your list will be a "Headshot for Your Ad." To add this item, simply click on the "Get Started" button. After you have uploaded your headshot, this item will be checked off your list.

headshots examples for Google Local Services
The image content must show someone who is an employee of your business

Step 9: Upload Your Bar License

Next, you will need to upload a copy of your bar license so that Google can verify that you are a legitimate service provider. You will also have to provide bar license information and other data for every other lawyer who works at your law firm.

As part of the verification process, Google will confirm that you have an average business review score of three or higher. The Google Service Ads platform verifies this by linking to your Google Business Profile account.

You will also have to authorize Google to arrange a background check of all practicing attorneys on your staff and the law firm's founder. These background checks are conducted by a third-party.

Step 10: Provide Customer Reviews

The reviews for Local Service Ads for lawyers are sourced from your Google My Business profile. To proceed with LSAs, you must have a minimum of one review. If your firm's GMB profile lacks reviews, you can distribute the link to current or previous clients by utilizing the "Choose review link" feature and picking from the available button choices.

customer reviews for local services ads
A minimum of one review is required for your Google Local Services ad to be published

Step 11: Set Your Bid Amount and Budget for Local Search Ads

After you have completed the initial setup process, you will need to set a budget and bid amount. In local service ads your "bid" is the amount you are willing to pay for each lead, and your budget reflects the maximum amount that you are willing to spend during the month. Once your budget has been reached, Google will no longer display your ads during that month.

bidding for local services ads
Your ads will no longer be displayed by Google for the remainder of the month after your budget has been met

Google will provide you with several suggested budgets based on the information that you provide. Each budget will account for factors such as the number of leads you want to acquire and the expected average cost per lead in your area.

When you click on each of Google's suggested weekly budgets, the platform will estimate how many leads your Local Service Ad campaign will generate per week. The larger your budget, the broader the range provided in the estimate.

If you are not satisfied with any of Google's suggested budgets, you can customize your bid and budget amounts. You will need to devote at least a few hundred dollars to your Local Services Ads campaign. However, many law firms spend several thousand dollars per month on this highly effective marketing tactic.

Step 13: Leave Your Billing Information

Provide your payment details. Local service ads can be paid for using a credit or debit card, PayPal, or a bank account. Payments will be automatically deducted on the 1st day of each month. Adjustments to these settings can be made in the billing preferences of your Google Ads account.

Step 14: Add More Lawyers

You have the choice to disregard this particular phase if it is not relevant to your legal practice. However, if it is applicable, you have the option to modify the number of lawyers associated with your establishment and incorporate specific information for each one.

When users interact with your local service advertisement, they will be presented with a roster of additional attorneys affiliated with your law firm (provided you have chosen to showcase them in their respective profiles).

lsa for lawyers
An example of a local service ad profile

How to Manage Your Law Firm Leads from Local Service Ads

Once your advertisements start displaying, you will gain access to the management of your prospective clients through the Local Services Ads Leads dashboard.

It is advisable to monitor the quantity of inquiries acquired through your advertisements as Google imposes fees for each generated lead.

law firm leads
Manage your potential clients through the Local Services Ads Leads dashboard

To follow up with leads, you have various options within the LSA platform. You can reply to their message via email or text message, make a phone call using the provided contact number, or choose to decline the request if it pertains to cases you are not interested in pursuing.

How to Dispute Irrelevant Leads

Google classifies phone calls that last more than 30 seconds, missed calls that you later return, and text messages about your services as qualified leads. You will receive detailed reports from Google that outline charges you have incurred.

While Google's service ads system is accurate and efficient, it is by no means flawless. On occasion, you might be charged incorrectly. When this occurs, you can use Google's lead dispute process to contest the charge.

In order to initiate a dispute, simply click on the menu in the upper right corner of your lead page. Next, select "Dispute" from the list of options. Finally, select a dispute option from the dropdown menu and submit your request.

If Google reviews and approves your dispute, it will credit your account to correct the error. If it denies the claim, Google will send you an email explaining the decision.

You can dispute leads for several reasons. For example, if a person calls your law firm in pursuit of services that you do not provide and the call lasts for more than 30 seconds, then you may be accidentally billed by Google.

FAQs: Local Services Ads for Law Firms

  • Are Local Service Ads for Lawyers Better than SEO?

    No, Local Service Ads for attorneys (LSAs) complement search engine optimization (SEO), forming an essential part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Local service ads excel at generating high-quality leads quickly, enabling business growth and expanding reach in the competitive legal industry. Neglecting SEO can impact profitability as paid advertising costs increase and insufficient investment in local service ads and paid search may hinder lead generation and impede firm growth.

  • How Much Do Google Local Services Ads for Lawyers Cost?

    Signing up for the Google Local Services Ads platform is completely free. However, you will be charged every time your ads generate a lead. The amount that you are charged will be based on your bid amount.

    Winning bid values will vary based on geographic location and practice area. For example, if you are a divorce attorney in a highly competitive area like Los Angeles, you may pay $300 per lead or more.

    On the other hand, attorneys working in less competitive regions or practice areas might pay less than $50 per lead. If other attorneys in your area start bidding more on their LSAs, then your cost per lead will rise.

  • Which Is Cheaper: Google Ads or Local Service Ads?

    Google Local Service Ads (LSA) are generally cheaper than Google Ads. This is because Local Service Ads follow a pay-per-lead model (PPL), while Google Ads is a pay-per-click model (PPC). With PPL, you only pay when a potential customer contacts you through your ad. With PPC, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad, even if they don't contact you.

    In addition, Local Service Ads ads are only shown to users searching for your services in your local area. This means that your ads are more likely to be seen by people who are actually interested in what you have to offer.

  • Google Screened vs Google Guaranteed: what is the difference?

    Google Screened and Google Guaranteed are both programs that help businesses build trust and credibility with potential customers. However, there are some key differences between the two programs.

    • Google Screened: Google Screened is aimed at professional service providers such as law firms, real estate agents, and financial planners; this program verifies a business's licenses, insurance, and other credentials. Businesses that are Google Screened are eligible to display a badge on their local service ads. This badge tells potential customers that the business has been vetted by Google.
    • Google Guaranteed: Google Guaranteed is more commonly used for home service businesses like plumbers, electricians, and HVAC companies; this program offers a money-back guarantee to customers who are unhappy with the services they receive from a Google Guaranteed business. Businesses that are Google Guaranteed must meet certain criteria, including having a good customer rating and a history of providing quality service.
  • How Is Google Screened Ad Different from Paid Search Ads?

    Google Screened ads, distinct from regular paid search ads, appear at the top of search results, providing superior visibility. They feature a Google Screened badge, signifying the business has passed a thorough screening process, enhancing trust with potential clients. Unlike standard ads that charge per click, these ads operate on a pay-per-lead basis. To run a Google Screened ad, ensure eligibility based on profession and location, complete the verification process including providing relevant professional information and undergoing a background check. After approval, set up your profile, specify your service area, and create an optimized ad with the right keywords and competitive bid.

  • How else can I advertise myself as a lawyer?

    When it comes to advertising yourself as a lawyer, there are a few things you can do. First, create a website and be active on social media to reach potential clients. Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads can be just as useful.

    It's also incredibly helpful to list your law firm in online directories and attend legal events to make connections and get referrals.

  • Will My Local Service Ad Show Up More If I Set a Higher Budget?

    Yes and no. Google will not penalize your service ads if you have a budget that is lower than your competitors, as long as your per lead bid amount is sufficient. In that regard, setting a higher budget will not have any impact on how frequently your ad is displayed.

    However, let's say that your budget is $500 per week/$2,000 per month, and the average cost of a lead in your area is $250. Google's platform will not exceed your monthly budget, but your weekly spend can vary.

    Therefore, if you generate eight leads in the first week of the month, your entire budget will be exhausted. In this scenario, your LSAs would not be displayed for the rest of the month unless you set a higher budget.

  • Can You Choose What Keywords Trigger Local Services Ads?

    No, you cannot choose which keywords will display your Local Service Ads listing. Google will automatically determine when to display your listing based on the search terms entered by the user. If your listed practice areas are relevant to the user's inquiry and your content was one of the top three options based on Google's criteria, then your ad will be displayed.

  • How to Enter the Top-3 Results in Local Service Ads for Lawyers

    If you want to be included among the top-3 LSA results on a regular basis, make sure that you:

    • Choose appropriate service area types when setting up your profile
    • Monitor your Google Business Profile score
    • List the correct phone number on your profile
    • List the correct address for your business (proximity matters)
    • Periodically review your LSA bid amount
    • Review your monthly budget to see if you have exceeded it
    • Maintain a good reputation and address complaints promptly
    • Encourage previous clients to leave you reviews
    • Consider upping your budget if you can afford to

    Once you obtain a top-3 spot in your area, staying there is not nearly as challenging as maintaining a high SEO ranking. However, other firms in your area will constantly be vying for the attention of potential customers as well. Occasionally, they may drive up your cost per lead by increasing their bid amounts.

Ready to Grow Your Law Firm with Local Services Ads?

Are you interested in leveraging the power of local service ads for lawyers to enhance your digital marketing strategy and bring in new clients and greater revenue? Does your current online outreach approach require a complete revamp, but you're just not sure where to start? Are you searching for a professional law firm digital marketing company that focuses specifically on serving attorneys to take the load off your hands?

If any of the above resonates with you, then we encourage you to contact our team at Grow Law Firm. We take pride in offering an extensive range of digital marketing solutions designed exclusively for attorneys, including cutting-edge law firm web design services, highly effective SEO services for lawyers, and expert management of law firm local service ads campaigns.

Our goal? To help you achieve your business goals and increase your revenue. Whether you're looking to enhance your website, improve your search engine visibility, or maximize the impact of your law firm local service ads, our team of professionals is here to guide you. Take the decisive step today and contact us to get started and grow your firm.

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