Until recently, Google did not allow businesses regulated by HIPAA to participate in Local Service Ads (LSAs). Dentistry is the first medically related industry to participate. Dentists can now apply and get approved to run LSAs. This is a big deal, folks!
Google's LSAs are highlighted at the top of the search engine above the traditional pay-per-click (PPC) ads and the Google map. When patients enter a local search query, they may see several dental practices in their area. LSAs show a business number, hours, ratings, and reviews, and include the green “Google Screened” check mark. For dental practices that use digital marketing as part of their overall growth strategy, LSAs are a great supplement to any local dental SEO campaign.
LSAs look like this:
How are LSAs different from PPC ads?
You pay-per-lead, not pay-per-click, which allows for precise and transparent ROI. It can be daunting to manage PPC and Google Ad campaigns. Well-managed campaigns require a sophisticated bidding strategy, which is why so many dental marketing companies provide a Google Ads management service. Beyond a more direct and straightforward management system, Google LSAs go one step further than PPC ads. They ensure they're connecting patients to the best dental practice.
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LSAs have a quality check that increases the value of a patient lead. When they click on a local dental practice LSA, Google prompts patients to confirm their location and the type of dental services they’re looking for. If your practice provides the service and you're located in the area the patient is searching, you'll be matched to the patient. Before calling the office, a person can review your qualifications, ratings, and Google reviews.
LSAs display on desktop and tablet with three results—two listings on mobile searches and one in the Google Assistant's voice search queries. Dentists who are approved and run LSAs will be charged only for valid leads. If a dentist receives a lead that is fraudulent, spam, or a poor match, they can dispute the charge for credit.
Dentists must be approved before running LSAs
One important reason for the approval process is that Google does not want nondental companies running LSAs. Maybe you've noticed, but the PPC section of search is inundated with lead generation companies—companies that run ads for dental patients and sell those patients back to dentists. Dental practices pay a higher cost for PPC ads.
Google does not want this to happen with LSAs. They only want legitimate dental practices involved. A rigorous approval process has been implemented to get around the problems with PPC ads. The approval process requires a dental practice to provide proof of liability insurance, an active state business license, NPI registration, appropriate licenses for team members, a minimum number of Google reviews, and a possible background check.
Google uses several third-party companies to run background checks, but the primary company is Pinkerton. If a background check is required Google covers the cost. Once a dentist is approves for the program, the leads should be highly qualified. The only competition for LSAs will be other area dentists. There will be no competition with lead generation companies in the LSA program.
LSAs are a great solution for patients
LSAs will not run in all areas. If an area is small and there’s not much search volume or enough dentists who want to participate, Google will not offer the service, and for good reason. Why would you want to run ads if you’re one of only a few dentists in your town? People searching will notice LSAs appear with the “Google Screened” green checkmark. Beyond just catching users' attention, this allows dental practices to benefit from a Google endorsement.
Not all inquiries will be from new patients. A consumer may use the LSA section to ask a dental-related question. You should follow up on all leads and do your best to convert each lead to a scheduled patient.
Your LSA lead score
Once a patient becomes a lead, they will be asked to review your practice. Reviews are used as a metric in your LSA lead score. One of the reasons Google has integrated review requests into the LSA system is to measure and provide a lead score, which plays a part in how often your ads run.
The following formula will calculate your lead score. Google will tweak this formula as they get more information about dental industry lead quality.
- The proximity of your practice to the patient's location.
- Your responsiveness to a new-patient lead.
- Your practice hours of operation.
- Your review scores.
- The number of reviews you receive.
- The number of complaints that Google gets about your practice.
Because reviews play such a big part in the lead score, you must have an ongoing Google review campaign. After 13 years and working with more than 5,000 practices, we've found that one of the most effective ways to get a new Google review is to run a short-term in-office review campaign.
Google's LSAs are a powerful tool for dentists to increase visibility and reach new local patients. With features such as location and service confirmation, ratings and reviews, and the “Google Screened” checkmark, LSAs provide a level of trust and credibility that will help convert searchers into scheduled patients.
To be one of the first dentists in your area to be approved for LSAs, lean on the LSA Google partnership with My Social Practice.