Successful law firms use the best tools available to attract new clients — and optimizing their websites for online searches remains of the most important.
Many potential clients will use Google to find legal representation or other professional services. If you aren’t taking advantage of the tools offered by Google to boost your firm’s online visibility, then you’re missing out on a huge boost to your business.
Google offers many different programs to help businesses using their platform. These include Google My Business profiles for your law firm, pay-per-click advertising, video discovery ads on YouTube, and more. But the newest and most promising of Google’s options for law firms are Local Services Ads.
Client Chat Live recently hosted a Webinar on Using Local Services Ads for Law Firms - you can watch the video here to learn each step of the process.
A new way to expand your client base
Google started rolling out its Local Services Ads program in 2020, beginning with legal practices in San Diego and Houston. Now, the program is available nationwide for law firms, as well as financial services providers and real estate agents. If you’ve run a search for some of these services in your area, you have likely seen these new ads.
The Local Services Ads make an immediate impression. They appear near the top of the search results page, above any Maps or Images results and before other text results. The ad includes the firm name, phone number, a list of the firm’s service areas, and a badge indicating the firm has been “Google Screened” (more on that below).
The phone number is clickable on desktop web browsers and tap-able on mobile devices, making it easy for potential clients to contact you. Finally, these adds also enable users on the Google Local Services Ads mobile app to reach out to your firm directly via text message.
Why switch to Local Services Ads?
Here’s what you get by using Local Services Ads on Google:
- Prime ad placement above your competitors
- Higher-quality leads from clients that are explicitly interested in your services
- Higher click-through rates on ads because potential clients can see that you’ve been vetted by Google
- You only pay for ads that result in someone contacting your firm (whether through a phone call or text message)
How to enable Local Services Ads for your law firm
Not all law firms are immediately eligible to start running Local Services Ads in their area. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Make sure you have at least a 3-star rating from Google’s online reviews. Google wants to make sure customers feel that they are contacting trustworthy, reliable firms, so make sure to develop your firm’s positive reviews.
- Create a Google My Business profile for your firm. If you haven’t done this already, do so immediately because it creates another portal for prospective clients to find you on Google’s platform. A Google My Business page also lets you jumpstart the verification process to become eligible for Local Services Ads. Once you’ve created your Google My Business profile, you visit Google’s sign-up page for Local Services Ads and begin the verification process after paying a $50 fee.
- Complete a series of background checks. At minimum, Google will run a check on your business to make sure you are who you say you are. They’ll also be looking for your business hours, the services you provide, whether there are any outstanding liens against your business, if you’ve had any history of civil litigation against your business, if you’ve ever been accused of discrimination, whether you’re properly licensed to offer the services you provide, and other key information about your firm. Once the company-level background check is complete, Google may also run additional screenings on your insurance coverage, individual employees, and other aspects of your business. Lastly, bear in mind that these background checks are carried out by Google’s local partners in your area, not by Google itself.
- Look for the “Google Screened” badge on your Google My Business page. Local Services Ads are only available for businesses that meet Google’s certification requirements. If you’ve successfully completed the background checks and met the other requirements, you should see this badge on your business’ Google My Business profile.
At this point, you should be eligible to run Local Services Ads in the markets served by your law firm. However, this is a new program and Google wants to make sure that only the highest-quality advertisers use their platform. So you want to make sure your ad quality scores stay high, which will ensure you can keep running your ads and that they’re prominently placed in search results. Here are a few tips to keep your ad quality scores up:
- Keep an eye on your reviews — As mentioned above, Google requires a 3-star rating or higher for firms that want to run Local Services Ads, so make sure your positive reviews outweigh your negative reviews.
- Answer all inquiries quickly — Google gives a little extra weight in its search results to firms that are available 24/7, but the trade-off is that the company expects you to answer queries as soon as possible. If you can’t handle unexpected calls or text messages at odd hours, consider hiring additional staff or adjusting your business hours.
- Focus on the core geographic areas your firm serves — Proximity is another key factor in rankings for Local Services Ads, so be sure that you’re not running ads in areas far away from your location.
Make the switch to Local Services Ads today
Local Services Ads are the next great innovation for law firms looking to expand their business. The sooner you sign up for these new tools, the faster you’ll start seeing improved results in your advertising efforts.
Google’s Local Services Ads aren’t the only way your law firm can make an impression on potential clients. To learn about how Client Chat Live can help your firm grow, call (808) 495-0231 or visit our contact page.