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Recently, on the Coach You show, I interviewed Corey Vandenberg of CLIXSY on Local Service Ads (LSA). You will want to know what’s changed and the mistakes you might be making, and how to audit your agency on what’s working and what isn’t.
LSA has confused the crap out of people, and Whether it’s for you or your marketing person, Corey has data with examples and some shocking revelations about the kinds of things that get you suspended and the things that you can do now, and we go deep into why.
LSA is changing daily, if not faster, and trying to keep up with it as a single business owner is a giant headache. Many business owners unknowingly handcuffed themselves with local service ads, and getting answers from sources like Google is extremely frustrating. But Corey has so many accounts at his fingertips that I think he can be a big help.
Adapting to the Evolving PPC Landscape: Embracing Local Service Ads (LSA) for Success
In the rapidly changing world of PPC marketing, the shift towards machine learning has transformed how businesses approach online advertising. The prospect of leveraging Google’s automated systems to manage bids, targeting, and ad copy has enticed many marketers. However, for those in the personal injury sector, this transition has presented unique challenges that cannot be overlooked.
In the past, the effectiveness of PPC for e-commerce was evident, as Google could track the entire customer journey from the initial click to the final purchase, providing valuable insights for optimizing campaigns. Unfortunately, this same level of visibility does not extend to personal injury marketing, where the trail goes cold after a phone call.
Managing LSAs involves closely monitoring the behavior of the businesses represented. Agencies must assess factors like response time to customer inquiries, promptness in answering calls and accumulating positive reviews. Essentially, the success of LSA is influenced from the outside in, making it more akin to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than traditional PPC advertising.
The strategic advantage of focusing on LSA lies in the ability to help businesses establish and maintain a strong online presence in their local markets. By ensuring a stellar customer experience and building a positive reputation, businesses can attract more leads through LSAs, ultimately driving growth and success.
Indicators of Underperforming Law Firm’s LSA Campaign and the Crucial Role of Responsiveness
Local Service Ads (LSA) have become a significant aspect of law firm marketing, but how can you identify when such a campaign is not delivering the expected results? By understanding key performance indicators and the critical importance of responsiveness, law firms can optimize their LSA strategies for success:
- Monitoring Performance Metrics: Law firms have access to user interfaces that track LSA performance over time, typically measured in leads per day. A flat or declining trend in leads serves as the first indication that the LSA campaign may not be performing optimally.
- Earning Your Way to the Top: Unlike Google Ads, LSA doesn’t allow firms to outspend competitors to reach the top position. Instead, Google prioritizes highly responsive firms. Responsiveness is earned by promptly attending to leads. While Google doesn’t provide a specific definition, being highly responsive typically involves answering calls live within 30 seconds.
- The Challenge of High-Volume Firms: Many injury law firms face the challenge of high call volumes, often accompanied by spam calls. In an effort to manage these calls, some firms implement phone trees and IVR systems. However, this approach can prove detrimental to LSA’s success. AI-powered LSA systems detect hang-ups from callers encountering automated answering services, causing firms to miss out on valuable opportunities. LSA or not, firms utilizing such systems are affected negatively, highlighting the necessity of prioritizing live human interaction to capitalize on leads.
- The Advantages of Third-Party Intake: By embracing third-party intake services, law firms can enhance their ability to handle call volumes effectively. These external services are equipped to provide efficient and professional responses to every call, ensuring that no opportunities are missed.
Ethical Considerations in Handling Multiple Google My Business Listings for Personal Injury Firms
Some personal injury firms have been tempted to open multiple Google My Business (GMB) listings or cover multiple service areas. However, ethical dilemmas arise due to the potential violation of Google’s terms of service.
While personal injury firms may be enticed to create multiple GMB listings for enhanced visibility, ethical marketers understand the potential repercussions of this action. They responsibly inform clients of the technical violations and the risk of suspension that such practices entail.
Safeguarding Your Personal Injury Firm’s LSA from Suspensions and Spam
Spam in LSAs is most commonly observed in the home services niche. The abuse of verified reviews has become a major concern due to the intertwined nature of Google My Business (GMB) and LSA profiles, making them susceptible to manipulation.
GMB and LSA profiles are interconnected but separate entities. Leaving a review on GMB often reflects on the LSA profile. Conversely, reviews acquired through LSA solely reside on the LSA profile, leading spammers to exploit loopholes for mass spamming both positive and negative reviews.
To safeguard your firm’s LSA and prevent suspension, focus on acquiring legitimate reviews from real clients. Aim for a balanced approach where approximately 90% of reviews go to GMB, and the remaining 10% are sent to LSA for verification.
By maintaining a 90-10 split between GMB and LSA reviews, you can showcase genuine feedback while leveraging verified reviews for your LSA profile. This approach reduces the risk of spam issues and helps you build a solid reputation within Google’s system.
Decoding LSA Visibility: Unraveling Ranking Factors and Google’s Insights
Local Service Ads (LSA) visibility is influenced by several ranking factors, and understanding these elements requires parsing information from both Google’s official statements and real-world data observations.
Google emphasizes three primary factors influencing LSA visibility: responsiveness, reviews, and proximity.
Responsiveness refers to how promptly a business interacts with leads, while reviews play a pivotal role in establishing credibility and attracting potential clients. Aim to respond within 30 seconds, but strive for the gold standard of answering in a single ring. This proactive approach establishes trust with potential clients and sets your firm apart from competitors.
- Similar to raising a batting average in baseball, increasing responsiveness is tied to obtaining more opportunities. By promptly answering calls and messages, firms can create a snowball effect of positive results, generating more leads and improving their overall LSA performance.
- To maximize opportunities, consider turning on message leads and responding to them with agility. Additionally, activating 24/7 ads ensures a steady flow of inquiries and prospects, bolstering responsiveness and increasing the likelihood of securing potential clients.
- In challenging scenarios, implementing general law queries, like “lawyer” and “lawyer near me,” can revive inactive LSA accounts. This approach provides more opportunities to engage with potential clients, allowing the firm to regain momentum and refine its strategy over time.
In terms of reviews, it’s not just the total number that matters; review velocity—the number of reviews received in a specific period, such as three months—is deemed more significant by some experts. This dynamic approach highlights the importance of consistently garnering positive reviews over time.
Review velocity aligns with the concept of measuring recent review activity against a business’s historical performance. A sudden spike in reviews may raise suspicions and impact visibility. Cohort analysis also plays a role as Google assesses a business’s performance in comparison to others within its industry and region.
Aim for a minimum of one review per week, but consider obtaining more if possible. To gauge review performance, analyze your industry’s standard and monitor direct competitors in your city. Be cautious of fake reviews and unethical tactics, and instead, focus on surpassing competitors through legitimate and exceptional service.
Proximity is another critical aspect that influences LSA visibility. Google considers how close a business is to potential customers, making local relevance a key determinant for ranking.
Instead of diluting efforts with multiple LSAs, consider targeting a broader area with one or fewer LSAs. Concentrate review velocity on these select listings to maintain a high standard of service and enhance visibility in the targeted market.
However, these factors are not precisely defined by Google, leaving room for interpretation and analysis. Google likely evaluates LSA visibility through a holistic lens, weighing various factors, including responsiveness, reviews, proximity, and historical performance. Similar to legal parlance’s “totality of the circumstances” concept, Google considers all relevant aspects to ensure fairness and accuracy in ranking businesses.
Unraveling LSA Proximity: A Data-Driven Exploration of Location Targeting
Understanding the nuances of Local Service Ads (LSA) proximity is essential for personal injury firms to achieve optimal results. Recent changes in Google’s algorithm have led to unconventional strategies and surprising outcomes. In this data-driven analysis, we uncover the intricacies of LSA proximity and how it affects performance.
- Shifting Perspectives on Location Targeting: Previously, personal injury firms relied on opening numerous locations with LSAs to enhance visibility. However, this approach quickly spiraled out of control, prompting Google to reevaluate its algorithm. Now, broader targeting for fewer locations seems to yield better results, signaling a significant shift in LSA strategies.
- Overlapping LSAs – A Curious Exception: Google introduced a new rule allowing overlapping LSAs as long as each instance has a distinct bar license. While this contradicted previous practices, it demonstrated Google’s effort to address the abuse of multiple LSAs by certain law firms.
- Performance and Visibility Trade-off: Though overlapping LSAs can increase visibility, the overall performance may decline. Personal injury firms need to strike a balance between visibility and maintaining a high standard of service to attract quality leads effectively.
- The Importance of Consistent NAP: Unlike traditional local SEO practices, LSA puts a significant emphasis on Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) consistency. Ensuring accurate NAP details for LSAs is essential for success and alignment with Google’s guidelines.
- Navigating Google’s Shifting Landscape: Google’s ever-changing policies and support team responses can lead to confusion. The key lies in consistent communication with Google support, gathering information from multiple sources, and analyzing the preponderance of evidence to make informed decisions.
Analyzing LSA Overlap and GVP Expansion for Optimal Performance
The complex interplay between multiple Google Verified Profiles (GVPs) and overlapping Local Service Ads (LSAs) can pose challenges for personal injury firms. Deciding on the right strategy requires careful analysis and a thorough understanding of how performance and visibility are impacted.
- The Dilemma of Overlapping LSAs and Multiple GVPs: The scenario of having legitimate GVPs with LSAs that overlap or cover extensive territories presents a strategic dilemma. On one hand, there is a need to enhance visibility across multiple locations, while on the other, avoiding performance degradation caused by overlapping ads.
- Starting with Strong Social Proof: In advising firms facing such challenges, it is crucial to assess the social proof, i.e., the number of reviews and equity associated with each GVP. Focusing on the GVP with the most substantial social proof (e.g., the highest number of reviews) and considering it as the “home base” can form a strong starting point.
- Testing the Territory: An initial approach could involve targeting the entire area with the chosen GVP for a defined period, typically around 90 days. This allows firms to gauge the impact of broader targeting and understand if it leads to increased case opportunities and performance.
- Gradual Expansion and Review Bifurcation: Based on the performance results, firms can decide whether to gradually expand the territory covered by the primary GVP. If the strategy proves successful and generates an ample number of cases, they can consider directing a portion of the reviews toward other GVPs. This prepares them for future expansion without overwhelming the new GVP with an insufficient number of reviews.
- Setting a Distance Threshold: To avoid excessive overlap and competition between LSAs, it is prudent to establish a distance threshold, such as around 50 miles, before considering further GVP expansion. This distance allows firms to target geographically distinct areas without diminishing the overall LSA effectiveness.
Let’s consider a scenario where I have offices in both Milwaukee and Chicago, separated by a two-hour drive, depending on traffic. Milwaukee serves as my home base, boasting the highest number of reviews, making it my primary office. However, I wonder when it would be appropriate to focus on the Chicago location or expand the reach of the Milwaukee office.
The most critical factor in this decision-making process revolves around reviews. Analyzing the volume of reviews from the Milwaukee area becomes essential. It helps determine whether building up the Chicago office based on Milwaukee’s success is a viable strategy. These locations are sufficiently distant to be managed simultaneously, allowing for data-driven analysis.
Google’s approach to displaying search results considers various factors, including proximity and review quality. While proximity remains relevant, it is not the sole determinant. Google aims to present the best firm for a user’s query, even if it means displaying a business located farther away with better reviews and a stronger reputation. This rings particularly true in certain categories like personal injury, where users are willing to travel for exceptional service.
Over time, the significance of proximity in search rankings has evolved. It’s no longer the primary factor influencing results. Instead, Google evaluates the totality of data, incorporating multiple aspects like reviews, reputation, and user search history to deliver the most relevant results.
Google’s algorithms account for user personalization, taking into consideration individual search histories and even possible data from Google Maps. For instance, if a user frequently commutes to Milwaukee, it may impact the search results they receive.
While Google may claim not to use Google Analytics data in ads, there’s reason to believe that it is used behind the scenes based on past experiences and observations. Such data likely plays a role in local rankings and Local Services Ads (LSA), further influencing results.
Brand reputation holds substantial importance in local and LSA rankings. Larger law firms with prominent national brands often fare well, but even smaller firms can achieve significant success if they focus on building their brand and reputation within their niche.
The Influence of Market and Search Volume on Google Rankings
Understanding the correlation between the market and Google’s search volume is crucial. Following the introduction of Panda, there were speculations about Google favoring retail giants like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart. However, it’s important to note that Google’s search results reflect the market’s search volume and trends.
We conducted a test with the world’s largest furniture manufacturer, who’s also the world’s largest furniture retailer, Ashley Furniture, using the dollar-a-day strategy to promote brand stories. The test demonstrated a notable impact on Google My Business (GMB) rankings, now known as GP data. By optimizing for store visits and uploading offline conversions, the strategy generated more brand searches and increased in-store footfall.
In addition to driving sales, the increase in brand searches and website data played a crucial role in reinforcing GMB rankings. The combination of social media advertising, brand search, in-store visits, and website engagement created a positive feedback loop, strengthening the overall online visibility and reputation of the brand.
Small and medium-sized firms now have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage strategies like the content factory and the dollar-a-day approach to surpass larger TV and billboard advertising firms. This presents a unique chance for smaller firms to compete and succeed in the digital landscape by capitalizing on cost-effective digital marketing tactics.
Visibility alone is not sufficient for driving conversions. It’s crucial to build a reputable brand that resonates with potential clients. Even if a firm ranks well on Google, if people are unfamiliar with the brand, they may not choose its services. Google can detect a lack of engagement and user signals, which can impact rankings and conversions.
Brand recognition plays a role in the conversion process. While it is challenging to measure the exact impact, a strong brand presence can contribute to higher conversion rates. SEO may drive initial visibility, but brand awareness and reputation are instrumental in convincing potential clients to choose a particular firm.
The SEO Nature of Local Service Ads (LSAs)
Understanding that LSAs are more aligned with SEO than being a purely automated advertising solution is crucial for professionals in the personal injury (PI) field. Rather than a direct advertising approach, LSAs are influenced by external factors that shape their performance.
LSAs are comparable to SEO in terms of their characteristics. The correlation between website rankings and the success of LSAs is not necessarily strong. Instead, the focus should be on the external behaviors that influence LSAs, such as responding to customer needs, providing excellent service, and garnering positive reviews. These factors have little to do with merely activating an LSA campaign.
SEO is primarily driven by non-advertising elements. It involves being relevant, informative, educational, and demonstrating authority, trustworthiness, and experience. The concept of E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) is particularly relevant to SEO. Both LSAs and SEO rely on an outside-in approach, emphasizing the importance of reputation and user experience.
The prevalence of social video platforms like TikTok and Instagram presents a significant opportunity for small and medium-sized firms. Even with a modest budget, implementing the dollar-a-day strategy and creating engaging content can effectively build brand awareness within a specific geographic radius. In smaller markets, where strong brand signals may be lacking, social media dominance is attainable.
TV firms often run ads during daytime television, assuming that individuals at home, potentially injured in car accidents, are their target audience. However, social video platforms offer a cost-effective alternative, as they allow 24/7 exposure at a lower cost than cable TV. It is crucial to understand that social video advertising requires a different approach than simply repurposing TV commercials.
LSAs, SEO, and social media should be viewed as an interconnected ecosystem. While firms may desire the simplicity of tracking individual marketing channels and their specific impacts, the reality is that the top-of-funnel efforts influence bottom-of-funnel outcomes. Recognizing the interplay between these elements is crucial for developing a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Tracking signals and attribution have become increasingly difficult due to changes in privacy policies and the elimination of certain tracking methods by platforms like iOS 14 and Google Chrome. This creates challenges for law firms seeking to measure the impact of their marketing efforts accurately. Third-party attribution tools and first-party data leveraging can help address some of these challenges.
First-party data is often overlooked but represents a significant opportunity for law firms. Owning and leveraging their own data, particularly through website traffic and phone calls, can provide valuable insights. By passing back accurate signals, including offline conversions, to platforms like Google and Facebook, firms can improve the quality of their leads and optimize their marketing campaigns.
New Book on Local Service Ads (LSAs)
Corey Vandenberg and his team embarked on writing a new book dedicated to Local Service Ads (LSAs) with the aim of providing the ultimate guide. Having access to a vast number of accounts and conducting extensive testing, they discovered unique insights to contribute to the market. Their perspective goes beyond common knowledge and official statements, delving into data-driven observations that differentiate their book from others.
The book’s primary goal is to offer value to readers before its official launch in August. Corey believes in giving back to the community, and through sharing valuable insights, he has already witnessed positive responses on his YouTube channel. Small businesses hold a special place in his heart, and LSAs present an opportunity to help businesses of all sizes, unlike SEO, which may require a larger budget.
Google’s move to open LSAs to new categories, including medical and dental services, is significant. Corey and his team recognize the potential impact of this expansion, as more businesses can now leverage LSAs to reach their target audiences effectively.
Corey speculates on Google’s trend towards “zero-click” results, where users find answers directly on the search engine results page (SERP) without clicking through to external websites. Google’s AI and knowledge panels play a role in this development, and it aligns with Google’s goal to keep users within its ecosystem. This trend emphasizes the importance of optimizing LSAs and other digital assets to cater to changing user behaviors.
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