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[ STUDY ] How Google Local Service Ads for Lawyers Impact Consumer Click Distribution

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Matt Green

The Question:

How does the presence of LSAs in Google search results impact where legal consumers are clicking when they search for a lawyer?


In 2020 Google rolled out it’s Local Service Ads (LSAs) product to lawyers. Google search results now include this 3-pack of LSAs above all other paid and organic listings for many high-value lawyer keywords. You know, these guys:

Needless to say, this was a major shakeup to what legal consumers see when they search for a lawyer. Before Google rolled out LSAs for lawyers, people searching for a lawyer would most frequently see 3 or 4 Google PPC Ads at the top of the page, followed by a 3-pack of map results (which sometimes contained an ad), and then traditional organic results.

But now, the searcher sees these Local Service Ads above all other results. These ads are rich with visual bells and whistles, beginning with the green checkmark and “Google Screened” language, then the headshots, and finally the review stars, review count, and “years in business” count.

Given their prominent position on the search results page, and their highly appealing visual layout, we would expect LSAs to steal a ton of clicks away from the other types of search results. But do they?

The Test

We ran 3 click tests on UsabilityHub to see where folks would click first when presented with the following prompt and screenshots of Google SERPs:

“You are searching for a Personal Injury / Divorce / DUI lawyer – where do you click first?”

We then showed each group a screenshot of full, page-one Google search result as it appears on desktop browsers. You can view those by clicking the links below.

The Results

The chart below shows the aggregate click data for all 3 tests.

BOOM. Google introduces LSAs for lawyers and now those results gobble up 33% of all first page clicks that would have previously gone elsewhere. Below we’ll break down the results from the 3 individual tests, and detail our key takeaways from this study.

Click Test 1: ‘Personal Injury Lawyer’

The chart below shows the breakdown of clicks on the Google results page for the keyword [personal injury lawyer]. The heat map shows where users clicked most often:

Click Test 2: ‘Divorce Lawyer’

The chart below shows the breakdown of clicks on the Google results page for the keyword [divorce lawyer]. The heat map shows where users clicked most often:

Click Test 3: ‘DUI Lawyer’

The chart below shows the breakdown of clicks on the Google results page for the keyword [dui lawyer]. The heat map shows where users clicked most often:

Key Takeaways

The presence of LSAs drastically reduces organic result clicks

In a click study we ran back in 2015 we found that ads garnered just 29% of all clicks for the average lawyer search, leaving the remaining 71% of clicks for organic results. With the introduction of LSAs, we are seeing that number balloon to a whopping 48% (LSA + PPC) of clicks going to ads. This means less total clicks are going to organic search results (map-pack, traditional organic, and other elements).

Important Note: This test was ran on what we call transactional or commercial keywords. Ie. keywords that indicate a high likelihood that the searcher is looking to buy and thus are more likely to trigger ads than informational keywords, which can also be highly effective at driving new leads for law firms. Point being, to conclude that organic results are no longer a viable source of lead generation would be a mistake.

Google Maps remains a crucial source of visibility and traffic for lawyers

Even with the addition of LSAs to the SERP, a healthy 27% of searchers chose to scroll down to the map-pack and click a result there. This re-affirms the importance of having a local presence. People care that their lawyer be local to their area. Check out some of the user comments when we asked why they clicked where they did:

A plurality of LSA clicks went to the “more” link instead of to a specific law firm

When we look at the heat maps for the 3 tests, we see that a plurality of the LSA clicks actually went to the “more” link rather than on a specific law firm’s listing:

Reviews are a really important factor in determining where people decide to click

31% of all respondents mentioned reviews/ratings in their answer as to why they clicked where they did. That’s wild, especially because they were not prompted with choices; they were simply ask to state the most important factor in their decision.

More interesting data points

  • 64% of all traditional organic clicks went to non-law firm websites (directories, review sites, etc.).
  • 31% of all map-pack clicks went to the firm’s website link.
  • For DUI lawyer searches, LSAs received 10% more clicks than for personal injury searches, and 16% more than divorce lawyer searches.
  • Just 5% mentioned “screened” (as in “Google Screened”) as the main factor for why they clicked where they did.
  • The “#1” result – the first LSA listed on the page – received just 6% of all clicks.
  • 46% of all LSA clicks went to the “more lawyers” link rather than to a specific law firm’s ad.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear your thoughts, questions and ideas for additional areas of inquiry. Please leave a comment below and I’ll respond soon!

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Matt Green

Hi, I’m Matt. I am the Chief Strategy Officer here at Juris Digital. I love SEO, content marketing, and brand development, and I am so grateful that my job is to help exceptional lawyers deploy these marketing tools to help more people. If you have specific topics you’d like to discuss with me, please feel free to email me or tweet me.

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