The excitement around Local Service Ads has seemed to have subsided over the past few months, with more clients than ever generally complaining about everything from the start-up process to the quality of leads (along with the process for disputing the unqualified leads). Even so, being that LSA’s are a case-by-case success story, companies are still encouraged to try them out in their own market and see how they go.
We’ve been tracking the progress of LSA’s from their ubiquitous reception in August of 2022. In the most recent survey about SERP preference from an average consumer, we produced the following results of consumer preference, based off a short-tail vanity search for a lawyer.
Most Likely to Click this Position
LSA: 70 (27.78%)
Google Ads: 35 (13.89%)
Google My Business/Maps: 104 (41.27%)
Organic: 43 (17.06%)
Least Likely to Click this Position
LSA: 48 (19.12%)
Google Ads: 102 (40.64%)
Google My Business/Maps: 33 (13.15%)
Organic: 68 (27.09%)
Organic still combines for roughly 58% (previously 59.57%). LSAs backed down from 29.43% previously a year ago to 27.78%. Google Ads increased from 10.99% to 13.89%.
Surprisingly, 50% of respondents still said they haven’t seen LSA ads before, which is the same amount as last year. It would seem LSAs haven’t been rolled out continuously for many more industries as the awareness has become stagnant.
All in all, the past year has been very stable as far as consumer preference of Google results, with a slight edge going to the paid options. Though it appears that typical organic results are still down year over year over year (below the maps organic), their prevalence is lasting for all long-tailed searches consumer conduct.
Below you’ll find addition information from previous studies a year ago, and when compared to what we’re seeing today, how the LSA (and all search result preferences) have evolved (or not) over the past two years.
Even if the process for Local Service Ad approval seems to change every week, the positive impact it’s having for law firms has been nothing short of tremendous. Ever since they’ve rolled out in the majority of markets in August of 2020, LSA’s have helped law firms generate thousands of quality leads during a time in which the need for marketing channels to perform has never been more crucial. While consumers were slow to adopt to this new form of advertising—with less than 10% of consumers familiar and trusting of the new results alongside Google Ads—familiarity increased dramatically by the beginning of 2021.
Dissecting Our Study: What Type of Google Link Are Users Most Likely to Click On?
In our study in January of 2021, we found that 20.5% of participants would choose LSA’s first on a results page when searching for a lawyer.
This solidified the importance of LSA’s at that time. However, with so many changes to consumer behavior still occurring across the board now 6 months later, the results this time around are eye-opening:
What is perhaps most interesting about these findings is that the results line up with the information I was communicating to clients leading up to 2021. I wasn’t concerned at all about LSAs taking even more share away from organic results, which is what many business owners are most anxious about moving forward when it comes to the ever-changing world of SEO. The crux of this fear is that Google will eventually monetize enough of SERPs to the point where SEO starts to finally lose its relevancy. However, it’s Google Ads that will need to be reimagined if LSAs are going to share the sponsored section of results.
LSAs moved from 20.5% to 29.43% (a 43.56% increase), while Google Ads decreased from 16.75% to 10.99% (a 34.4% decrease). Non-paid (Maps and Organic) combined for just about the same increase: 59.57% vs. 60.5%. As suspected, organic results remained steady.
As far as “Least Likely,” Maps was by far the least with 14.13%. LSA was similar at 17.67% (January 2021 was 17.25%). Google Ads rose even higher, from 40.75% to 42.05%. Organic did see a large increase for “Least Likely” with a jump from 18.75% to 26.15%, which is something I wasn’t expecting in this case, though there have been bigger movements for legal directories in the past 6 months and that would fall under that category. It’s also important to note when dissecting these results is that 50% of respondents still have never seen an LSA ad before, which means there’s still a long way to go with the adoption of LSAs.
Understanding Why Users Do and Don’t Prefer Clicking on Certain Google Links
This time around, I wanted to hear from respondents the main reasons why they preferred the results they did as well as the opposite—why they don’t like clicking on certain types of links. Here are the top responses—the number one in each section of which is italicized—for each category:
Why They Did Choose
LSA — Pictures of the attorneys, first result they saw, mentions reviews/years of experience
Google Ads — includes more information
Maps — reviews, considered the respondent’s location, information easy to understand
Organic –—they didn’t pay for positioning, they know it is a link to the website, know it is “classic” Google
Why They Didn’t Choose
LSA — they are ads, not much information, don’t need to see pictures
Google Ads — they are ads
Maps — not enough info
Organic — more time consuming, last section, would want to compare options instead of going to one website
Many respondents that said “Most Likely” for Google Ads also said “Least Likely” for LSAs, and vice versa. Whereas non-paid (maps, organic) almost exclusively said any paid for least likely. Ad seekers are evidently very preferential.
LSAs continue to take market share away from Google Ads. Google is going to respond to its own worst enemy eventually with updates such as Performance Max, perhaps other augmentation and extensions, or even scale back somewhat on LSA availability and approval. The latter is purely speculative, but Google arguably makes more money from its Google Ads model and the market share away from organic seems to be marginal at the moment.
The trajectory of LSA’s is absolutely dominant, and no one is “too late” to go through approval and attempt to get positioning in their own geography.
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