Google Local Service Ads vs. Google PPC Ads: Which Are Right for Your Law Firm? – JD Supra

[author: Noreen Fishman]

People who’ve lived close to a century – or beyond – are often asked their secret to life, and a standard answer is “never stop moving.” In the marketing world, “never stop moving” means innovation, which manifests with the new online marketing tools that pop up daily.

 The funny thing is that Silicon Valley believes if it isn’t broke, do fix it. 

Even a company as large as Google subscribes to this theory. They recently introduced their Local Service Ads or LSA’s as a compendium to – not a replacement for – the Pay Per Click (or PPC) Ads we all know, and, hopefully, love. Depending on your firm’s area of expertise, one, the other, or both of Google’s products could be a viable option for you. So, what is a Google LSA, and what do they accomplish that a PPC Ad won’t? Let’s take a step back and talk about their predecessor for a moment first. 

Google PPC Ads: World Dominationgoogle ads for law firms

For anyone that’s not used Google ads, you most certainly have experienced one of them surfing the internet. When you search a term on Google, a traditional ad or PPC is the one that appears in the top three or four results on the page and sometimes says “Ad” above it. Every time someone clicks on this link to your website, you pay for it, hence the term “Pay Per Click.”

In this scenario, your ad could appear across the entirety of Earth in search results, which garners great impressions, and you won’t be charged until they click your link. The flip side to that coin is if someone does click on the link and doesn’t contact you, you paid for nothing. This statistic is known as your Cost Per Lead or CPL, and engagement with your ad affects this number positively and negatively. 

The PPC/CPL method has been the hallmark of Google’s business, so it undoubtedly works. So why reinvent an already reinvented wheel? It’s the potential for cost-effective ads delivered with precision. And who wouldn’t like that?

Google Local Service Ads: Hitting “Home” Runs

Think globally, act locally. While this is not the intended usage for this phrase, it still applies here. Reaching as many people as possible certainly increases the chances of success but doesn’t guarantee you will see an uptick in business as a result. A click from the UK is excellent, but will this person become a client without a firm operating there? Likely not. 

Google created the Local Service Ads to give businesses a better chance of triumph by allowing them to narrow the target audience so precisely they could reach people residing as close as miles away from their office, not oceans. Proximity aside, the other main feature of an LSA is that, unlike PPCs, you only pay for a click if it becomes a qualified lead. Gone are the days of people haphazardly clicking on your firm’s link with no rhyme or reason on your dime. When a prospective client clicks on your LSA and contacts your firm for a consultation or any direct interaction, then you would pay for that lead. But it would be easy to think that achieving this level of accurateness comes easily. 

Increasing your chances of a successful campaign through either method requires keyword research, clearly defined parameters for the desired audience, and a finite budget. The trifecta combines to create a focused, strategic and cost-effective marketing approach that may increase your ROI and lower your CPL, which is music to any marketer’s ears. Unfortunately, without this extensive legwork, you run the risk of missing the mark over and over. For a PPC campaign, you might be able to avert this step, but LSAs are not nearly as forgiving.

LSA vs. PPC:  Which is “better”?

This is a case of “better for you” vs. “better in a general sense,” and the clear-cut winner is specific to your firm. 

The legwork mentioned earlier is significant because it helps make this determination for you. As you uncover more data, it points you in a direction that could lead to LSA and PPC as a dual-threat. If you’re a firm with offices all over the US, PPC is a natural choice, but you also might want to use LSAs in cities where you have an office. Suppose you’re competing with the firm in the last example. In that case, the LSAs may help you stand out in the community and attract people who appreciate a more grassroots approach that positions you as the local authority.google ads for law firms

One potential “catch”…

Currently, anyone who wants to run an ad using the Google PPC method can do so with little resistance. You can run ads until you’re blue in the face if you have the money. 

However, it’s not as simple if you want to utilize Google LSAs for your firm. There is an extensive approval process, and your firm must meet Google’s qualifications to use the program. This is not a reflection of your firms’ shortcomings, but more so due to the infancy of Google’s tool and their desire to satisfy the customer by only enrolling those businesses for whom the product has an excellent chance to succeed.

Takeaway:

Google Local Service Ads, or LSAs, give you the ability to precisely target an audience locally, as a countermeasure to the global reach of Pay Per Click or PPC ads. LSAs also position you higher in search results. Payment with an LSA model is not contingent on the volume of “clicks,” but rather on whether or not the clicks convert into qualified leads. This is part of what may make LSAs an excellent alternative for firms who wish to reduce their Cost Per Lead or CPL and potentially save money while attracting local clients. Whether you utilize PPC or LSA’s depends on your firms’ area of expertise and your desired results. One is not “better” than the other. It’s all about choosing the right fit, which involves extensive keyword research, optimizing your ad parameters, and a finite budget. If you do the leg work, one or both could lead you to everlasting marketing life.

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