On February 9, 2024, Google Local Services Ads (LSA) rolled out “Branded Local Services Ads”. This means that attorney’s LSAs may display when someone searches for your law firm’s name.
In typical LSA fashion, the rollout was a total disaster.
The discovery was made by Anthony Higman who tweeted this example:
Google’s “Ad Liaison” Ginny Marvin replied and said “This is an experiment that will be rolling out shortly. To be clear, the opt-out will be available for everyone. Customers will receive more information on this next week.”
As of February 12, 2024, advertisers can indeed now opt out. However, the feature, called “Direct Business Search”, is enabled by default!!!
How To Opt Out of “Direct Business Search”:
To Opt-out of “Direct Business Search”, log in to your Google LSA account, go to “Profile & Budget”, and in the settings box un-tick “Direct Business Search”. Again, as of February 12, 2024, this is on by default.
How Much do Direct Business Search LSA calls cost?
To our shock, when the feature rolled out we began seeing calls come pouring in. In some cases, the calls ran $420 per call, which is basically the full price that you may pay for a prospective client lead.
Charges for Existing Clients:
Google added a new help page called about direct business search which states that “Callers will be asked if they’re a returning customer. If they indicate they are a returning customer, you will not be charged for the lead.”
This is not necessarily true. We tested it. There is a VERY brief window where people are asked to “press 1 if they’re a returning client”. The vast majority of people miss that.
Disputing these types of leads is a huge problem as Google automatically denies what they call “duplicate leads” if that person was not a charged lead in the last 15 days.
Calling LSA Support and begging for a refund for a call from an existing client “could” work, however, that simply is not their policy. You have to dig for this, but Google’s “duplicate lead” policy explicitly states credits are given when “The customer called to follow up on an existing lead for the same job within 15 days, and both the leads were charged.”
What is Wrong with LSA?
The entire LSA platform has been a dumpster fire for years now. We want it to work. We want the spam to stop. As someone who configures LSA for Personal Injury Lawyers, we want to pay Google for leads. Unfortunately, LSA has many flaws and problems, but instead of taking the time to fix these, they just continue to add new verticals and new features to the platform.
Update 2/13/2024: Google just announced this feature to LSA clients. It appears that the feature will be ON by default.