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If you are looking to boost consumer confidence in your legal services, Google Screened listings can help. Built specifically for lawyers, financial planners, child care and preschool service providers, and realtors in select areas of the country, Google Screened is a test program offered in limited categories and markets. Learn about how Google Screened works, how to apply, and how your law firm can benefit.
What Is Google Screened?
While any verified law firm can run a traditional ad on a search engine, a Google Screened badge is harder to obtain. However, the process is worth it because it gives law firms a massive advertising advantage by creating a more straightforward path to turning potential leads into clients. Google initially released the feature to reduce low-quality or scam business listing.
The Google Screened badge shows up as a green checkmark feature on Local Service Ads. The ad also displays the lawyer’s headshot, star rating, and review count, as well as a click-to-call feature that drives direct phone calls to the firm.
Overall, Google Screened provides a unique opportunity for lawyers looking to increase their digital performance. Law firms with the badge may see more search engine results page (SERP) coverage, brand recognition, and perceived trustworthiness. While there is no running list of places Google Screened is available, many major cities have it. If you find it is not currently in your service area, it is a good idea to try again at a later date to see if the feature has reached your location by then.
Local Service Ads
Local Service Ads differ from other local search results, including Google Ads, the local pack, and Local Map results. For one, they appear above all other listings. They also stand out on the page because of their formatting.
While clicking on a traditional local search result will take a user to your website, clicking on a Local Service Ad takes a potential client to an information page about your business in Google. It is also important to note that Local Service Ads extend beyond Google desktop and mobile. They are also available on Google Assistant in response to relevant voice search queries on smartphones and other devices.
While Google determines a quality score for your regular ads by using ad relevance, click-through rate (CTR), and landing page performance, this is not the case for Local Service Ads. Instead, Local Service Ads are evaluated based on law firm reviews, business hours, response time and quality, and proximity to a potential client’s location.
Google Screened vs. Google Guaranteed
Google Screened is similar to Google Guaranteed. However, the latter was introduced a few years earlier. While Google Screened is only available in limited markets, Google Guaranteed is widely known and covers a broad range of services. Categories include HVAC, appliance repair, house cleaning, locksmiths, plumbers, painting, and more.
If a consumer connects or books through Google with a Google Guaranteed business, that person is offered a money-back guarantee of up to $2,000 if they are not satisfied with the business’s work. Google does not offer consumers a money-back guarantee for firms with the Screened checkmark. Google Guaranteed also appears on smartphone results pages, as well as Google Home devices.
The Benefits Google Screened Listings for Lawyers
As a professional services business, earning a Google Screened badge shows potential customs you are a trustworthy law firm that Google recommends. The local services ads are featured at the very top of the search engine results page, which users are likely to pay attention to. The location of Google Screened also tells advertisers that is where it is investing its resources and time.
The Google Screened badge creates both a top-of-the-funnel ad and a bottom-of-the-funnel ad. Consumers quickly become aware of your business and are ready to take action sooner as a result. This means that it only takes a single search experience to be discovered and potentially immediately contacted by a potential client.
The Google Screened badge also gives your law firm a competitive advantage. As the process requires more effort, you will have a more profound sense of trust established with Google. The search engine also rewards advertisers who invest in its products and provide quality client experiences. A combination of good reviews, a high star rating, and the Google Screened badge signals to consumers that you are trustworthy, which will lead to more live phone calls.
Google Screened Eligibility
Google Screened badges are only available to professional firms at this time because Google is still testing the feature. Because Google Screened is only offered to a limited market, only lawyers in the following areas of law are eligible:
It is likely that if the feature is found to be a success, more areas of law and other professionals will be eligible for Local Service Ads. In addition to practicing in one or more of the areas of law listed above, attorneys and law firms applying for Google Screened at least a three-star rating or higher on Google. Meeting those requirements ensures potential clients that your firm has been thoroughly vetted and is capable of providing quality legal services.
How to Apply for the Google Screened Program
Beginning the Google Screened application process is as simple as visiting Google’s Local Service Ads and clicking “Get Started.” You will select your practice area and enter some basic business information. However, before you get started, gather the necessary documentation and go through it in advance. This will ensure a smoother application process. You should also check out your law firm’s reviews and make sure they reflect your business in a positive light. If there are negative reviews, you can address them directly.
In addition to basic information, to participate in Local Service Ads and receive the Google Screened badge law firms must pass Google’s free screening and verification process.
Business Registration. Google verifies business registration in accordance with state and federal laws. Proof of business registration includes relevant documents and registration numbers.
Insurance. For businesses that require general liability insurance policies, they must submit their certificate of insurance. The document needs to be active and valid for at least 14 days after submission. In addition to that, the name on the certificate needs to match the name that you want to advertise. The provided address needs to cover the service area you work with, and the amount of insurance must be equal to or greater than the amount required depending on state laws. When submitting documentation, it must be properly signed, legitimate, and include the policy number.
Licensing. Google verifies that law firms maintain applicable state-level licenses by checking records against state databases. Verified licenses are displayed on provider profiles.
Advanced Verification. Sometimes, law firms are required to undergo an Advanced Verification. This is done to prevent fraudulent businesses from advertising on Google using false identities. The process combines a review of your Google Ads account with publicly available data and video interviews conducted by Google. Enquires are made into business registration validity and evidence of misleading business practices.
While businesses in real estate and financial planning have to pass business-level and owner-level background checks before being confirmed eligible, lawyers are not screened separately. This is because every state in the U.S. requires lawyers to undergo a background check to receive a license to practice law.
Additional information needed to complete the application process includes the following:
The year the law firm was founded
The number of employees that interact with clients
Professional license registration information
A proposed weekly budget for advertising
Each step in the process takes approximately two to three days for approval. During the downtime, you have the opportunity to review the recommended budget Google provides based on the information you have provided to the search engine. Your budget ultimately depends on the number of leads you receive from Local Service Ads.
You have the option of choosing Google’s recommended budget or customizing the budget with a sliding scale. If your budget is considerably lower than your competitors and it is unlikely you will see results, you will be notified via message under the scale. Note that you will only pay for Local Services Ads when a customer calls or messages you directly through an ad.
How Law Quill Can Help
Deciphering paid ad best practices for your law firm can be confusing—especially with a full caseload. If you are looking for professional guidance to nail down strong paid ad campaigns and see the benefits of Google Screened listings, Law Quill is ready to step in.
We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding your law firm website’s content, and how we can take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at email@example.com.