The Complete Guide to Google Screened For Lawyers
Date: December 20, 2023
Whenever someone is on the hunt to find specific products and services online, they want to have confidence in knowing that the top results they see are for trusted companies – especially when it comes to legal services. Potential leads need to know that they’re reaching out to a reputable law firm, which is where Google Screened – a type of local services ads by Google – can be beneficial.
But, what exactly is Google Screened? Keep reading through 9Sail’s Complete Guide to Google Screened for Lawyers to find out all about it, including how to sign up for Google Screened with step-by-step instructions if you’re interested in trying this type of paid advertising for your law firm.
What is Google Screened?
Google Screened is a local service ads screening program Google launched in 2020 that is specifically designed for niche professional service providers like law firms practicing family law, estate law, business law, etc. The purpose of the Google Screened for Lawyers program is to help law firms establish a trusted reputation when their local legal service ads appear in search engine results pages (SERPs).
But how does this program help build trusted reputations for lawyers? Law firms that successfully go through the Google Screened process earn a badge that displays in the attorney’s local service ad – this badge shows that both the advertised attorney and their respective law firm have been vetted and provide quality legal services.
Sounds like a great opportunity, right? But wait – what’s the catch? We’re not going to lie: it does take a bit of legwork to gather and submit everything you need for the Google Screened application process, but the effort is worth it because of…
- The authority it brings to your online presence in local search.
- The new leads it will generate for your law firm.
Benefits of Google Screened for Lawyers
After you’ve gone through the application process and have been approved to place ads using the Google Screened platform, you can enjoy these benefits:
- High Search Engine Listing: Having a badge showing that you have passed Google’s screening process program means that your listing can show up high in the search results. This placement puts your business listing ABOVE the pay-per-click ads in Google’s search results. High placement means there is a higher likelihood of potential customers visiting your website and contacting you for services.
- Local Targeting: Your online marketing efforts need to be carefully designed so you are connecting with the right people. Not only do you need customers who are searching for the type of legal services you offer, but you also need to be sure that these people are local. Adding this Google Screened badge increases the visibility of your website for people who are in the right area.
- Improved Credibility: When customers see that your firm has a Google Screened badge, then it gives you an instant boost in credibility. Prospective clients have more confidence knowing that they are choosing a reputable firm to work with.
- A Nice Boost For Your Business: All of these factors listed above add up to one important thing: more leads for your law firm which means more revenue. When you have a quality website, good reviews online, and a badge of approval from Google, then it sets the perfect foundation to support your firm’s growth in the future.
Law Firm Practice Areas That Are Eligible For Google Screened
Currently, there are 17 legal practice areas that are eligible for this type of local service ads for lawyers. When creating your account, you can select from one or more of the following areas:
- Bankruptcy law
- Business law
- Contract law
- Criminal law
- Disability law
- Dui law
- Elder law
- Estate law
- Family law
- Immigration law
- Intellectual property law
- Labor law
- Litigation law
- Malpractice law
- Personal injury law
- Real estate law
- Tax law
- Traffic law
Is Google Screened Different from Google Guaranteed?
Although they are both local service ad programs, Google Screened is different from Google Guaranteed. The Google Guaranteed program has been around for a longer time, and covers many home services categories such as plumbing, HVAC, repair, and more. If a customer finds a provider through the Google Guaranteed program and isn’t satisfied with the provided services, Google offers a money-back guarantee. This promise is capped at $2,000 per customer, which is a lifetime limit for each person.
Google Screened, on the other hand, is currently only available to professionals in the legal, real estate and financial planning industries. Right now, these markets and categories are limited, but it’s expected Google will expand this program to other verticals in the future.
How is Google Screened Different from Paid Search Ads?
There are two major differences between Google Screened and traditional paid search or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising:
- Google Screened Ads appear above pay-per-click (PPC) ads in SERPs. So, ads in the Google Screened for Lawyers carousel are the first result potential leads will see when they search for a term like “family law firm near me” or “estate lawyer in Fairfield NJ” followed by PPC ads.
- When you use Google Screened, you are charged for each lead that calls your firm from your Google Screened ad. Whereas when you use PPC ads, you pay by the click (hence the name).
So, How Does Signing Up for Google Screened Work?
Every company that gets a Google Screened badge must complete an extensive background and license check. As you work through the application process, Google will request the specific information needed to check your licensing and any applicable background information that relates to your industry or services.
How Do I Get a Google Screened Badge?
What Google looks at during the verification process that will allow you to receive the badge:
- Bar Membership: Each lawyer in your firm will be checked to verify the standing of their state bar memberships.
- Partner Background Check: One partner at the firm must complete a criminal and civil background check.
- Business Background Check: Another background check is completed to review the history of the law firm.
- Physical Location: The physical address of your law firm will be verified, to ensure that your company is legitimate and the online listing is correct.
- Google Reviews: Your Google My Business listing must have reviews. Your average star rating needs to be 3.0 or higher for you to be eligible for this screening process.
Even though it takes a bit of time to complete the application process, you don’t need to worry about paying a fee to begin using this local service ads Google platform. As a provider, you can submit your information for verification of your services, and Google is happy to complete this process, including the background check, without charge.
Overall, it’s a win-win scenario: you have more opportunities to connect with potential clients since it’s a promising type of lead generation for law firms, and Google has confidence knowing they are providing relevant, quality results for people using the search engine.
Interested in testing out Google Screened for your law firm? Then check out 9Sail’s step-by-step guide on how to get started below or contact our team of legal search marketing specialists to schedule a consultation.
A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Get Started with Google Screened
At 9Sail, we’ve heard feedback from some of our law firm marketing clients that the process to sign up for Google Screened is a little confusing. So, we went through the process ourselves, and put together this detailed nine step guide (we know what you’re thinking and yes, we included pictures) to make things a little easier for you.
Step 1. Getting There
Go to https://ads.google.com/local-services-ads/ and click Get started:
Step 2. Check Your Firm’s Eligibility for Google Screened
After you click Get started, you’ll be presented with the following form where you’ll need to fill out all of the information for the State & ZIP code for your law firm. Click the Job category dropdown and select Law.
This will add a new section titled Practice Areas:
Check the box next to each of your firm’s practice areas.
Important note: Do not check the box next to “Show on general lawyer queries” (which appears above the Practice Areas section) unless your firm can cover all of the Practice Areas listed. Selecting this option will cause you to spend money on areas that are not beneficial to your firm when it comes to revenue/profitability.
Once you have checked all of the practice areas that you want to serve ads for, click Check Eligibility at the bottom of the form.
Step 3. Upload a Photo
If your firm is eligible to run Google Screened ads in your area, the following screen will appear that allows you to begin making a Google Screened attorney profile:
Click on Headshot for Your Ad, and the following screen will appear prompting you to choose and upload a photo of the attorney who you want to show when your ad is displayed in Google’s search results:
Important note: You need to upload a clear, professional headshot of the attorney you select. Typically, it’s best practice to feature the most recognizable partner at the firm. There is also an option to add additional headshots of other attorneys at the end of this process that can rotate across ads.
Choose the correct file and upload it to your firm’s profile.
Step 4. Add Attorney License Information
After uploading your selected image, you will move onto the Lawyer License section:
Important note: The lawyer whose active BAR membership details you are providing must be a partner and will be the one undergoing a background check for the entire firm. Only one partner needs to go through the background check process in order for your law firm to be verified. It usually takes around two days for this verification to be completed.
After filling in the partner’s first and last name, you will add their BAR license number and its expiration date – this license typically has to be renewed each year. Once you’ve finished inputting all of this information, click Save and proceed to the background check.
Step 5. Sign Up One Partner for the Required Background Check
The way the background check window appears can vary based on the state that you live in, but you will see something similar to this:
Click the button that says Go to Pinkerton – remember this could display a different company name for the background checking service depending on the state you are in.
Important note: The background check is the bottleneck of getting your account approved – it usually takes 10 – 21 days to be completed by the company.
Step 6. Connect Customer Reviews from Google My Business
After you submit the required information for the attorney’s background check, click on the left-hand tab titled Customer Reviews.
If your email address is attached to the website listed in your Google My Business profile, the reviews will automatically be pulled into the section. If not, you will need to connect your Google My Business account with Google Screened.
Step 7. Select Your Bid Type and Set Your Budget
The next step is one of the most important when it comes to testing if Google Screened is right for your law firm:
There are two bidding options: Maximize leads and Set Max Per Lead.
When we help clients set up their Google Screened account at 9Sail, we prefer to use the Set Max Per Lead bid type so that our clients can control how much they are willing to pay per lead/phone call they receive. Why? This option helps you stick to your budget and will give you a good sense of what kind of return on investment you will get if a certain number of these leads convert into “average” clients for your law firm.
After selecting your bidding option, you can now set your weekly budget. We recommend that you start with the lowest option to test the platform to see if it’s the right paid search option for your law firm. Once you have a solid understanding of how Google Screened works and what the quality is for the types of leads you’re getting, you can move your weekly budget up to better match the number of leads you want to receive.
Step 8. Add Billing Information
The next step is adding Billing Information to the profile. Like most processes for adding billing info, this one is (thankfully) pretty straightforward. You will need to add the Account type, Organization name, credit or debit card information, and ZIP code. Once completed, you can click Submit.
Step 9. Add Other Lawyers
The final step is adding all of the other lawyers who work at your firm.
You’re going to follow the same process as the Lawyer License section we covered above, however, these attorneys do not need to complete a background check – as noted in Step 5 of this guide, only one partner has to undergo the background check.
Congratulations! You Made It – You’ve Finished Signing Up Your Law Firm for Google Screened!
Now that you’ve completed all of the steps, you just have to wait for the background check to be completed – which, from our experience, can take from 10 – 21 days. After the partner you submitted for the background check is approved, you’ll be given the green light to start running ads and generating more leads for your law firm.
Have Questions? Here’s Who to Contact When Setting Up Your Profile
If you have any issues setting up your Google Screened profile, you can either…
A) Reach out to the support team at Google Screened by calling them at 844-263-9884; you’ll need to give them your customer ID, which is accessible by clicking the hamburger menu icon in the top left corner of the Google Screened profile home screen (three horizontal lines) and listed at the bottom of the panel that appears:
B) Call one of our digital strategists at 9Sail: 201-632-1185. We’ve set up numerous accounts and we’re happy to help your firm get started with Google Screened.
Get More Qualified Leads for Your Law Firm
Googled Screened for Lawyers is an essential step to include in your online marketing efforts, but it shouldn’t be the only one. As a busy lawyer, you should be focusing on billable hours with your clients, instead of spending your time trying to figure out how to create an online marketing campaign for your law firm.
At 9Sail, our experienced digital marketing team specializes in creating tailored PPC and SEO plans for lawyers. We’ve developed proven systems that help your firm move up the ranks in the search results. Contact us today to learn more about Google Screened or to get a free site audit – no strings attached.