How do the new LSA Ads for lawyers impact local search?

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.

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:

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

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

Location Clicks Actual %
LSA 1 73 7.45%
LSA 2 104 10.61%
LSA 3 39 3.98%
LSA “More Personal Injury Lawyers” 59 6.02%
Text Ad 1 137 13.98%
Text Ad 2 27 2.76%
Map Image 18 1.84%
Local Pack 1 75 7.65%
Local Pack 2 50 5.10%
Local Pack 3 6 0.61%
Local Pack “View all” 16 1.63%
1 Organic 163 16.63%
2 Organic 123 12.55%
3 Organic 11 1.12%
4 Organic (PAA) 2 0.20%
5 Organic 19 1.94%
6 Organic 7 0.71%
7 Organic 1 0.10%
8 Organic 11 1.12%
9 Organic 23 2.35%
10 Organic 4 0.41%
11 Organic 3 0.31%
Text Ad 3 1 0.10%
Text Ad 4 4 0.41%
Text Ad 5 4 0.41%

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:

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:

– “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.”





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