Here’s What You Need to Know About Google’s New Local Services Ads
As if 2020 hasn’t brought about enough change, Google has rolled out some significant changes that are causing a lot of headaches. Their latest algorithms have wrecked rankings, and their glitches are boosting spam websites to show up in search results instead of industry experts. In addition to that, they are now expanding Local Services ads to lawyers, which has people wondering if this is a good or a bad thing.
What are Local Services Ads?
Local Services ads are a paid-per-lead service provided by Google, similar to Google Ads. Local Services ads appear at the top of the Google Search results when people search for services in a given area (example: “Atlanta Accident Attorney”). As the provider, you can download the Local Services app and reply to messages, track bookings, and manage all your leads. For most, this sounds like an excellent new marketing venue. Lawyers would much rather pay per lead rather than click. It’s also important to note that this service does not replace Google Ads; instead, they will appear above Google Ads. So now the first page will look something like this:
- Local Services ads
- PPC ads
- 2-5 organic results (if there is room)
- PPC ads
As you can see, the space for organic listings is continuing to shrink, making the #1 spot even more critical. Conversely, it also means that you could show 2-4 times on the first page if you are willing to pay for it.
Our team has been digging deep into Local Services ads (formerly known as Home Sevices Ads), which was only open to a few industries until recently. Usually, we are fans of building your online presence with Google. However, before signing up and trying to qualify for this service, we feel that it’s essential to know the benefits and risks of doing so.*
Benefits of Using Google’s Local Services Ads
- Increased Exposure on the Top of Page 1. You could be on page 1 multiple times: Local Services ads, PPC ads, Maps, and organic.
- Connect with customers the moment they’re looking for legal services for higher conversion rates
- Access to an easy-to-use app for managing leads
- Receiving the Google Guaranteed badge (builds trust in your brand)
- Less time chasing potential clients
Risks of Using Google’s Local Services Ads
- Less Control Over Geographic Location. Like Google Ads, you can set your preferred geographic area by choosing cities and postal codes where you would like your ad to show. Your ad will display in two ways: (1) To people who are in your preferred location and (2) people who search the name of your location and service, even if they aren’t in the physical area (example: “Atlanta Accident Attorney”). The disadvantage of this is that accurate, localized targeting will be harder to control, and competitors in other areas will be able to see your ads and send you spammy “leads” while wasting your ad dollars.
- Unqualified Leads. If one of your leads isn’t legitimate, you can dispute it with Google, but there is a chance you won’t get your money back. If you are a personal injury lawyer, you are able to select specific categories within Personal Injury. If you get a different type of lead that falls under PI, Google may not reimburse you for that lead. The following Personal Injury categories available are:
- Assault & battery
- auto accidents
- bicycle accidents
- motorcycle accidents
- dog bites
- injury from DUI
- product liability
- wrongful death
- and other services
- Local Service Reviews are separate from your Google My Business profile and reviews. Many of you have spent a lot of time building your reviews on Google, and that is great! However, you will need to get new reviews for your Local Services’ profile. At this time, reviews collected through Local Services will only appear in the Local Services profile, and they won’t be deleted if you leave the Local Services program. Google also mentioned that these reviews might be combined with other reviews across Google in the coming months.
- If you aren’t quick to respond to leads, your ad rank will drop. Google recommends responding to leads immediately. Reacting quickly to leads can boost your ad’s ranking on the search and possibly increase the number of leads you get. If you habitually fail to respond to messages or have repeated delays in your responses, the option for customers to send message requests to your business could be removed. If you’re too busy to receive incoming requests, you can always pause your ad to protect your ad rankings.
What Will You Need to Get Started?
To sign up with Local Services ads, your law firm may be required to go through Google’s screening and qualification process. For personal injury attorneys, they may ask you for:
- Business background check
- Owner background check
- Malpractice insurance (where applicable by state)
- State bar license checks for each personal injury lawyer in the firm
You must fill out your application accurately. Google uses the phone number and company information you provide in your ad, and for now, there is no way for you to edit it personally. So, if you want to use call-tracking, make sure you use that number during setup. Double-check that the locations and services you select are accurate because Google uses that information to determine invalid leads.
If you need Google support, it’s important to remember that thousands of businesses are starting this program, and it may take time to get everything up and running.
So Should You Sign Up?
That is a question that only you can answer. We have spoken with many of our clients about this new service because it is big news. Some are excited to get started, while others are taking a wait-and-watch approach, so it depends on your comfort level. It is always a good idea to keep your eyes wide open when starting any new venture, and we are trying to help everyone do that based on the information that is currently released by Google. Our team will be keeping a close eye on this new Location Services ads program.
If you have any questions about this new program or how it can affect you, feel free to reach out to us. Thanks to Google, the digital world is always rapidly changing, and we strive to stay at the forefront of the latest changes.
* Please note that Google is rapidly adapting their program as more customers use it and request changes. All information in this article may be subject to change by the time you read it!