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Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads vs. Local Service Ads (LSA) 

Sept. 14, 2023
By Jill Paska - Legalfit Content Writer
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It's no secret that today’s digital ecosystem plays a pivotal role in shaping businesses’ success. Understanding the nuances of different advertising strategies is crucial for achieving success in the highly competitive legal field. In order to stay up with the constantly changing landscape, it’s important to understand, define, and differentiate two of the most powerful tools our Legalfit customers have at their disposal: PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Campaigns and LSA (Local Service Ads) Campaigns.  

Pay-Per-Click and Local Service Ads: What’s the Difference?

PPC Campaigns:

In a PPC campaign, you bid on specific keywords and demographics. When someone in your target audience searches for those keywords, your ad appears prominently in the search results. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, which makes these campaigns a cost-effective way to reach your target audience. 

PPCs also provide immediate visibility, allowing you to customize your targeting precisely. They offer real-time data and insights, so you can adjust your strategy as needed. However, they do require ongoing management and can be costly and competitive. 

LSA Campaigns:

LSA campaigns are a specialized branch of Google Ads tailored for local businesses, including law firms. 

They occupy the coveted top real estate in Google search engine result pages (SERPs), boasting a distinctive "Google Guaranteed" badge that builds trust with potential clients. Instead of paying for clicks, you pay when someone directly contacts your firm through the ad. 

These campaigns are particularly effective for businesses serving specific geographic areas. They simplify the advertising process and provide an avenue for trust-building with clients. However, customization options are more limited compared to traditional PPC campaigns. 

Pros and Cons of Each Service

In your quest to conquer the SERP game, understanding the strengths and differences of these two tools will be crucial in crafting a winning online marketing strategy. Knowing the pros and cons of each will help you make an informed choice that aligns with your firm's goals and resources. 

PPC Campaigns: 

Pros: 

  • Immediate Results and Visibility: PPC campaigns offer an instantaneous boost to your online visibility. Your law firm's ad appears at the top of search results, so that potential clients notice you right away. 

  • Data-Driven with Measurable ROI: PPC is a data-driven approach, allowing you to measure the return on investment (ROI) with precision. You can track every click, conversion, and cost, providing invaluable insights into your campaign's effectiveness. 

  • Can Be Adjusted in Real-Time: One of PPC's greatest strengths is its flexibility. You can make real-time adjustments to your campaign, helping it stay in sync with your evolving goals and market conditions. 

  • High Intent Leads: PPC campaigns attract high-intent leads (people who are actively seeking legal assistance). This means that when someone clicks on your ad, it’s highly likely that they’re ready to hire an attorney. 

  • Super Granular Focus: PPC enables you to target extremely niche practice areas. You can choose specific keywords and demographics to reach the exact audience you want. 

  • Highly Customizable: PPC campaigns offer advanced targeting options, giving you control over who sees your ads. This feature allows you to tailor your campaign to suit your precise needs. 

Cons: 

  • Can be Expensive for Certain Practice Areas: In competitive practice areas (e.g., personal injury, family law, etc.), the cost per click (CPC) can be high, potentially making PPC expensive for firms focusing on these areas. 

  • Highly Competitive: We see a lot of competition for law firms in the PPC arena. This can drive up costs and make it challenging to secure top ad placements. 

  • Requires Ongoing Management: PPC campaigns demand constant attention and management so that they perform optimally. Neglecting regular monitoring and adjustments can result in a wasted ad spend. 

  • Clicks Don't Always Guarantee Leads: While PPC drives traffic to your website, not all clicks result in leads. A compelling website and ad copy are crucial for converting visitors into clients. 

  • Customers Expect Responsiveness: In the fast-paced online world, potential clients expect immediate responses. If you don't answer the phone or respond promptly, they may contact the next advertiser in the search results. 

LSA Campaigns: 

Pros: 

  • Prominent Placement at the Top of Search Results: LSAs enjoy the most visible position on search engine results pages (SERPs), appearing even before traditional PPC ads. This prime placement captures immediate attention. 

  • Google Guaranteed Badge Builds Trust: The "Google Guaranteed" badge lends an extra layer of trustworthiness to your law firm. It assures potential clients that your services meet Google's standards. 

  • Pay Per Lead, Not Per Click: In LSA campaigns, you pay only when someone directly contacts your firm, such as through a phone call or message. This means you're investing in potential leads, not just clicks. 

  • Simplified Management Compared to Traditional PPC: LSA campaigns are generally easier to manage than traditional PPC, making them an attractive option for busy law firms. 

  • Dispute and Credit for Invalid Leads: If you receive leads that don't meet your criteria, you can dispute them and get credits back on your account. This way, you're only paying for quality leads. 

  • Lower Cost Per Lead (CPL) in General: LSAs often have a lower cost per lead compared to traditional PPC campaigns, making them cost-effective. 

  • LSAs Are More Effective in Smaller Markets: This can be taken as either a pro or a con. LSAs tend to perform best in smaller markets, such as smaller cities or less competitive practice areas. In larger, highly competitive cities, it may be more challenging to rank and generate leads through LSAs due to the increased competition. 

Cons: 

  • Requires Hands-On Customer Involvement: LSAs require active customer involvement. Law firms should be available to answer their phones during business hours, or it may negatively impact their ranking in the LSA directory. Managing leads often involves a separate dashboard. 

  • Limited Customization Options: LSAs have limited customization options compared to traditional PPC campaigns. Your reach is determined by predefined categories and keywords provided by Google. 

  • Limited Ad Format Options: LSAs have a set format, which may limit creativity in ad copy compared to traditional PPC. 

  • Less Keyword Specific: LSAs rely on categories and keywords predefined by Google, offering less keyword specificity compared to traditional PPC. 

  • Limited to Specific Service Areas: LSAs are primarily designed for local businesses, which means they're limited to specific service areas. 

By weighing the pros and cons of PPC and LSA campaigns, you can make an informed decision on which approach aligns best with your law firm's goals and resources. But remember, your choice won't be set in stone. Depending on your evolving needs, you can even blend elements of both campaigns to create a tailored online marketing strategy. 

What’s Needed From You to Make the Campaign Successful

Now you understand the differences, advantages, and potential challenges of these powerful online marketing tools. However, the success of your campaigns won’t only depend on the tools themselves, but also on how well-prepared you are during pre- and post-launch. Here's what's needed from you to drive a winning campaign: 

For Both PPC and LSA Campaigns 

  • A Well-Designed Website: Your website is often the first point of contact for potential clients. Ensure it's not only visually appealing but also user-friendly and optimized for conversions. Make it easy for visitors to contact you or schedule consultations. 

  • Compelling Ad Copy: Crafting persuasive ad copy is an art. Engaging and concise copy that clearly conveys your unique selling points is essential to entice potential clients to click on your ads. 

  • Defined Budget: Determine a clear budget for your campaigns. This budget should align with your goals and what you're willing to spend to acquire new clients. 

  • Clear Information About Services: Provide detailed information about the legal services you offer. Transparency is key to building trust with potential clients. 

For PPC Campaigns

  • Keyword Research and Selection: Invest time in thorough keyword research. Select keywords that are not only relevant but also aligned with your budget. Focus on those that are likely to convert into leads. 

  • Continuous Monitoring and Optimization: PPC campaigns require ongoing attention. Regularly review your campaign performance, adjust bids, and refine ad copy to maximize results. 

For LSA Campaigns

  • Accurate Business Information: Ensure your business information, including hours of operation and service areas, is accurate. Misleading or outdated information can deter potential clients. 

  • Prompt Responsiveness: Be prepared to respond quickly to inquiries generated by LSAs. Timely responses can significantly impact your chances of converting leads. 

By focusing on these key elements, you'll be better equipped to make the most of your PPCs and LSAs. Remember that your choice between the two types should align with your firm's goals and resources. You may even choose to utilize both strategies to create a well-rounded online marketing approach. 

Start Driving Traffic to Your Site Today

The world of online marketing offers a plethora of opportunities for attorneys and law firms to connect with potential clients. Whether you opt for the immediacy of PPC or the trust-building qualities of LSAs, success ultimately lies in your hands—your website, your ad copy, your responsiveness, and your commitment to delivering exceptional legal services. 

Should you need assistance in navigating this complex digital landscape, don't hesitate to reach out to our team at Legalfit. We're here to help you achieve your online marketing goals and grow your law practice. 


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