How Do Local Service Ads Differ from Regular Google Ads?

Home Google Ads How Do Local Service Ads Differ from Regular Google Ads?

Understanding the differences between Local Service Ads (LSAs) and regular Google Ads is crucial for law firms looking to optimize their online advertising strategy. Both types of ads can drive valuable leads, but they operate in different ways and offer unique advantages. This detailed guide will explain how LSAs differ from regular Google Ads and how your law firm can benefit from each.

It will also provide you an overview as to which one is the best fit for your circumstance.

Dive into effective Google Ads campaigns designed for lawyers to gain foundational knowledge in crafting impactful campaigns.

Definition and Overview

Local Service Ads (LSAs)

Local Service Ads are a type of Google Ad specifically designed to connect local businesses with potential clients in their area. At the moment, LSAs typically appear at the top of Google search results when users search for services like “lawyers near me” or “personal injury attorney.”

Regular Google Ads

Regular Google Ads, also known as Google Search Ads, are text-based ads that appear at the top and bottom of Google search results. These ads are triggered by specific keywords that users search for and can target a broader or more specific audience depending on the campaign settings. These typically show up right below LSA ads, and at the bottom of the search engine results page (SERP) on occasion.

For a detailed introduction to Google Ads, visit getting started with Google Ads for lawyers.

LSAs vs Regular Google Search Ads for Law Firms

Placement in Search Results

  • Local Service Ads: LSAs appear at the very top of the search results page, above the regular Google Ads and organic search results. This prime placement increases visibility and likelihood of clicks.
  • Regular Google Ads: These ads appear at the top and bottom of the search results page. While still prominent, they are positioned below LSAs when both are present.

Winner: LSAs. Since they are at the very top of the SERP this makes them a clear winner in this regard.

Ad Format and Features

  • LSAs: Feature business name, Google Guarantee badge, ratings, reviews, and contact information. They focus on local services and are designed to build trust with potential clients.
  • Regular Google Ads: Text-based ads that include a headline, description, and a URL. They can also use ad extensions to provide additional information, such as phone numbers, sitelinks, and more.

Winner: Regular Search Ads. With LSAs there is very little room for selling and ultimately differentiating your firm from the competition. However, with search ads you can stand out from the competition with well crafted ads.

Targeting and Audience

  • LSAs: Target users based on location and service type. They are designed to connect local businesses with local clients looking for specific services.
  • Regular Google Ads: Target users based on keywords, location, demographics, interests, and more. This allows for more precise targeting but requires careful keyword selection and management.

For more on targeting strategies, see location targeting for Google Ads lawyers.

Winner: Regular Search Ads. However, this is only if you have expertise. If you don’t know what you’re doing LSAs might make more sense.

Cost and Billing

  • LSAs: Operate on a pay-per-lead model, meaning you pay only when a potential client contacts you through the ad. This can be cost-effective for generating high-quality leads.
  • Regular Google Ads: Operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning you pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Costs can vary based on keyword competition and bid strategies.

Winner: It depends… Regular Search Ads typically reward you for your skill. If you have a high converting landing page, and a strong click-through rate, you will get cheaper leads when compared to LSAs. However, on occasion even if you everything right, LSAs will outperform Regular Search Ads.

Lead Quality

  • LSAs: Leads often want immediate contact and tend to ask questions without committing to hiring an attorney. This can result in a higher volume of inquiries but lower conversion rates.
  • Regular Google Ads: Leads from search ads are typically more researched and show higher intent to hire, indicating a stronger likelihood of conversion. These leads often reflect a deeper level of consideration and commitment as they are wanting to look at a website before making a decision.

Winner: Regular Search Ads. The lead quality on average has been more consistent in our experience with our clients.

Management and Setup

  • LSAs: Generally simpler to set up and manage. Google handles much of the targeting and optimization automatically.
  • Regular Google Ads: Require more hands-on management, including keyword research, bid management, and ongoing optimization.

Winner: It depends… If you don’t have time or expertise LSAs are a better fit, however, if you want to maximize your ROI and are adept at Google Ads Regular Search Ads will be best.

When to Use LSAs vs. Regular Google Ads

Scenarios for Using LSAs

  • When your firm has stellar reviews, and a very large quantity of them
  • When your firm has decades of experience, and more importantly, more than your local competition.
  • When you want a simpler setup and management process
  • When your team is skilled at converting leads just asking questions into clients

Scenarios for Using Regular Google Ads

  • When maximizing your ROI is your top priority, and additional management is not a concern
  • When your firm doesn’t have as many reviews as your local competition
  • When you know how to manage and optimize campaigns regularly
  • When your firm has less years of experience than your local competition

Combining Both for Maximum Impact

For the best results, consider using both LSAs and regular Google Ads in your marketing strategy. They both have different pros and cons, but in my opinion it is typically best to test both, and keep one if it outperforms the other one significantly. If not, just keep both.

In many instances we actually just keep both for our clients because they both work.

For strategies on combining different ad types, see effective Google Ads campaigns for lawyers.


Understanding the differences between Local Service Ads and regular Google Ads is crucial for optimizing your law firm’s online advertising strategy. LSAs offer higher trust and simpler management, making them ideal for local lead generation. Regular Google Ads provide more precise targeting and advanced features, making them suitable for broader reach and detailed campaign management. By leveraging both types of ads, your law firm can maximize its visibility, attract high-quality leads, and achieve better overall results.

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Santiago Alvarez
Santiago Alvarez

Ad Hoc Digital is an agency that specializes in helping law firms get more clients, and in total our team has over a decade of experience in marketing and advertising. Santiago Alvarez, the founder has been working exclusively with law firms since 2022.

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