Background Checks No Longer Required for Some LSA Verticals
Matt Casady

Quick Recap – What are LSAs?

Google Local Service Ads (LSAs) are the sponsored “Google Screened” businesses that show above the map pack and recently started showing in the local finder results on mobile as well. LSAs are available currently for a variety of business verticals and 11 countries including the US and Canada.

What Background Checks Changed for Which Verticals?

Lawyers and real estate agents in certain states are no longer required to complete background checks on LSAs. Until recently lawyers (from all types of law) and real estate agents in all 50 states were required to complete a background check as part of the process to begin advertising on LSAs. Google’s support documents confirm that is no longer the case.

Lawyers with “active law licenses” and real estate agents in 29 of the 50 states will no longer be required to complete a background check.

What’s the Reason for the Change?

For lawyers, Google says because “each U.S. state requires lawyers to undergo a background check in order to receive a license to practice law” and real estate agents because “specific states require real estate agents to undergo a background check in order to obtain a license”. See the full list of which states real estate agents will still be required to complete a background check here.

What We Are Seeing?

We noticed a pending LSA account for one of our legal clients no longer showed the “Background Check” but its verification progress showed as 129% and then a few hours later the “Background Check” section showed again so it appears Google is in the process of rolling this out to accounts.

What Does This Mean Moving Forward?

The background check was often the most cumbersome part of getting LSA accounts live so this change will definitely make it easier for lawyers and real estate agents to get their accounts live. Unfortunately, it will also make it easier for companies to create listings en masse which is a problem when the same business targets the same vertical and same location with multiple LSA accounts which is against Google’s TOS.

Let Us Know

What are you seeing in your LSA accounts? Are you still seeing the background check for real estate or legal verticals? If you’re looking to learn more about how to optimize your LSAs and get more leads, check out my recent presentation at LocalU Advanced.

Matt got his start in the digital space in 2012 while selling SEO products for a web hosting company. That led to a specialist role at an SEO agency where he got his first taste of local SEO working with lots of small business clients. Over the past several year’s he has done in-house SEO for a few companies where he gained more experience in local SEO and broadened his experience in a variety of areas like technical SEO and Google Ads. Matt loves helping small businesses optimize their online presence and has first-hand knowledge of some of the difficulties small businesses face when trying to DIY their own SEO.