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Most people involved in search have heard about Local Services Ads (LSAs) from Google. If you haven’t, these are the ads that appear at the top of the search results on Google for certain searches related to finding local businesses. For most law firms, the option to advertise using LSAs is just a few months old. That includes law firms who practice criminal defense, family law and the most competitive one of all, personal injury. If you would like to learn more about LSAs for your law firm, contact us for a free assesment.

LSA Ads for Personal Injury Lawyers

Since Google places these ads at the very top of the search results, there’s no doubt these ads will receive clicks and take away even more click throughs from organic search results than we’ve already seen in the last couple of years. The question is, how much of an impact will this have? Other questions you may be asking:

  • Will LSAs work to produce viable leads for law firms?
  • What is the CTR for LSAs?
  • How does the addition of these ads impact clicks to organic search results?

In order to find out the answers to these questions, we ran a click study this past week involving 1,005 participants from around the U.S. Each participant was asked to click on an image of SERP results on Google for the query “Denver personal injury lawyer”. Specifically, they were asked to “click on the first “link” that you would want to click on if you had conducted this search.” So this image only accounts for where a user would click first. In reality, most users would click on multiple results but we can still get valuable data on how consumers are currently engaging with these ads.

Key study findings

  • 28% of participants clicked on a link in the LSA region of the SERPs.
  • 18% clicked on traditional text ads
  • 46% of clicks were to ads (LSA + text ads combined)
  • 17% clicked on local pack links
  • 37% clicked on organic results
  • Only 7% clicked on anything in organic position 3 or lower
  • The #1 organic result received the most clicks of any individual link on the page

The heatmaps below show “hot spots” where users were clicking. As we can see from the image below, the LSAs got quite a bit of action with 28% of clicks.

Click Test Heatmap with LSAs

Click Distribution

LocationClicksActual %
LSA 1737.45%
LSA 210410.61%
LSA 3393.98%
LSA “More Personal Injury Lawyers”596.02%
Text Ad 113713.98%
Text Ad 2272.76%
Map Image181.84%
Local Pack 1757.65%
Local Pack 2505.10%
Local Pack 360.61%
Local Pack “View all”161.63%
1 Organic16316.63%
2 Organic12312.55%
3 Organic111.12%
4 Organic (PAA)20.20%
5 Organic191.94%
6 Organic70.71%
7 Organic10.10%
8 Organic111.12%
9 Organic232.35%
10 Organic40.41%
11 Organic30.31%
Text Ad 310.10%
Text Ad 440.41%
Text Ad 540.41%

Digging into the clicks on LSAs a little deeper, we see that even the “more personal injury attorneys” link below the 3 images was clicked on 6% of the time, so some users want to see more of these types of ads. The images displayed also bring extra attention to those ads and have an impact on CTR. When asked why they clicked where they did, here were some of the responses people gave on why they clicked on the LSAs:

  • “I was immediately drawn to the options with a face. I liked that he has a high rating and the most ratings, as well.”
  • “It provides a picture of the lawyer which makes me more interested.”
  • “The years of experience, the ratings and the picture.”
LSA Click Through Rate

So, yes, these ads do get action. We know this not just from the study we conducted, but we also have many clients running these ads. Early feedback from our clients using LSAs is that they are working to generate leads. However, you can count on these ads getting much competitive and more costly as more law firms start running LSAs.

Impact on Organic Results

Note: It’s very important to keep in mind that the LSAs only show up for a select number of phrases. While the search we did here is a common one, for the great majority of all searches performed by consumers, the LSAs (and often the paid ads) do not even show up in the search results. A smart and effective search engine optimization campaign will outperform LSA or Text Ads in most cases because the majority of non-branded search phrases that drive traffic to law firm websites is specifically from long tail search terms. It is now more important than ever before to make sure you show up for a wide variety of search terms, and not just the select few phrases that most law firm SEO companies focus on!

In term of the impact on SEO, this does take away clicks from organic search results. In the search used in this study (Denver personal injury lawyer), Google returned 5 ads (3 LSA and 2 text ads) above the local pack and organic results. That’s more than the 4 max ads displayed we had seen in the past. More ads displayed in the SERPs means more clicks on paid ads and less clicks to organic results.

In this click test, we saw the site listed in the #1 organic position receive 17% of all clicks. This was the single highest number of clicks of any individual link on the page.  The site in the 2nd organic position received 13% of clicks. These two were the only organic results to get above 2% of clicks.

organic clicks

As we can see above, the #3 result only had 1% of clicks. Only 11 people out of over 1,000 participants clicked on that third organic listing. The #9 organic result (if you include PAA as a result) actually received 23 clicks even though it was much farther down the page. As competition for clicks in the SERPs increases, you better be optimizing your title tags for click throughs.

Final Thoughts

For those asking themselves if they should continue investing in SEO, a few important points here:

  • It is important to note that these ads only display for specific queries. They don’t show (yet) for any long tail searches and were not being served for a number of other searches we tested.
  • Considering the #1 organic search result received the most clicks of any individual link on the page and that ads aren’t always serves for all searches, organic still offers the best potential for traffic and lead generation.
  • Expect costs for LSAs to drastically increase as more advertisers join in and price per lead gets pushed up.
  • Many users still avoid clicking on ads, as they have a higher level of trust on organic results. For example, here are some comments from a handful of participants who were part of this study:

– “I typically don’t view any ads.”

-“I’d want to see who was near me first, and then find out if any of those who are close are good. I also avoid clicking the links on google that are ads, as I want the actual search results, not just what someone who has paid for me to see.”

– “I don’t click on paid results. I like to look at the first one past the ads. I would likely click 7 or 8 listings before narrowing it down to three to call and consider hiring.”

-“I skip the ads and find businesses with great reviews.”

-“I usually ignore the ad results and click the top few non ads.”

  • Based on 15+ years of handling marketing for lawyers and conducting many consumer research studies, we know that people with more serious cases will do more research on which law firm to hire. When a user clicks on a Local Services Ad, the user is taken to another page on Google (and not the attorneys website like a traditional text ad). The great majority of consumers do want to research a law firm’s website before contacting a firm. Those with more serious injury cases often spend much more time researching which law firm to hire and they visit multiple law firm websites.  They also conduct more searches on Google and end up clicking on organic results as a result of the multiple searches they perform.
  • Yes, Google will always prioritize paid ads and will continue to find ways to increase revenues from paid search. However, by no means does this mean that you can’t have great success with SEO. It just means that it’s more important than ever before to make sure you have the right SEO team handling your organic search marketing.