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It’s difficult to perform a google search for any phrase containing the words law firm, lawyer or attorney without the first few slots on the results page being purely attorney ads. Google AdWords for lawyers and firms is a very competitive space with high cost per clicks. Then again, it comes warranted since Google AdWords can be such a powerful way to generate clients for your law firm.

Should Attorneys & Law Firms Advertise Google AdWords?

Your firm may have run Google AdWords in the past and hadn’t seen much, if any success from it. Perhaps you haven’t yet used Google Search Ads for your firm and are curious, but have heard mixed feedback. So while you may see many other firms advertising above and below the organic search results in Google, you may be wondering if it actually works or it’s just a facade.

Does Google AdWords Work for Lawyers? The short answer is yes. Google AdWords (now called Search Ads), can be an exceptional of inbound leads and new cases for law firms, especially consumer-facing areas of law such as injury, family, estate and property law.

Below, we’re going to look at some technical as well as strategic aspects that can turn a campaign from negative or on par, to seriously beneficial for generating new leads and cases for your law firm. These are what we consider the top 10 keys to making AdWords campaigns work successfully for lawyers.

1. Research Your Target Keywords

An essential part to your AdWords campaign is the list of keywords that you’re going to be targeting. Your ads only show up on specific search queries. So when someone is looking for a lawyer, then your ad may show up. However, if they’re looking for a McDonald’s or Walmart, then your ad shouldn’t appear for those searches.

Start with Tight Targeting

With every new campaign we launch, our objective is to start with a very tight set of keywords. This means we’re looking to target keywords related to the types of cases our law firm clients are aiming to acquire. For instance, a personal injury law firm shouldn’t be targeting keywords like “lawyer near me”. With so many different areas of law, there’s no telling what the person searching for that query is seeking legal counsel for. Instead, this personal injury lawyer should be targeting keywords and phrases more along the lines of “personal injury lawyer near me” or “car accident lawyer near me”.

Focus on the Searcher’s Intent

This leads us to the next point, Search Intent or User Intent. When someone types a query into Bing or Google, the search engine’s algorithms are trying to determine the user or searcher’s intent. 

What are they looking for and what they expect to find after typing in a given query?

If you’re a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles, then you may want to target keywords that include your types of cases and your city as well. So “car accident” and “los angeles” would both be in the search query. With that said, targeting “car accident los angeles” probably wouldn’t be a well targeted search, even though if you typed your city name in following “car accident”, you would likely see an injury attorney ad at the top of the page like this one.

If you look at the rest of the content below the ad, you can see that Google’s algorithm is returning results for News about car accidents in LA. Therefore, the search intent points to people looking up news about recent car wrecks rather than a car accident litigator.

So, while this search query is just missing one or two keywords in the phrase to dramatically change the search intent and therefore the results pulled from the search engine.

And there you have it. Merely inserting the word “lawyer” in the middle of the search phrase completely changes the results page. Keeping your keywords tight and locked down to your relevant areas of practice and properly identifying search intent are critical, especially when starting a campaign.

Maximize Market Share

Once you are seeing promising results from your locked-in, highly targeted keywords and search terms, then the next step in scaling your campaign is to increase your spend to maximize your share of impressions and clicks in your market. Now that you know what works, it’s time to turn on the heat on your campaign to pull in more leads until you reach a saturation point. This is where it becomes difficult to increase your number of files from AdWords as you’re no longer limited by budget, but by tight keyword targeting.

Loosen Targeting and Experimenting

Once you have reached the saturation point mentioned above and you’re limited not by budget, but by your strict targeting rules, now you can start to loosen and experiment. It’s tempting for many lawyers and their advertisers to start with strict targeting. However, once they begin seeing the slightest results from their campaigns, they start experimenting. This is where many campaigns can begin to go wrong.

If your campaigns strict targeting via keywords and locations works well, then the answer is not to change it, but scale it. In fact, many campaigns need not get to the point where the experiment or broaden their targeting. They simply need to scale their spending to match the number of new cases they’re looking to acquire on a monthly basis. Occasionally, if a firm has the desire and resources to grow quickly, in a matter of months, their campaign will evolve to the point of experimentation. However, experimentation should be left until the number of new leads is limited by targeting instead of by budget.

2. Set Reasonable Expectations

One of the keys to success with your law firm’s AdWords campaigns is setting the right expectations. Depending on your past experience with AdWords, whether you have seen results and are just looking to improve or are entirely new to AdWords will determine where your new PPC agency or consultant embarks with your campaign.

Law Firms with a Decent History of AdWords Results

For lawyers looking to improve their results, then when your new AdWords manager takes over the reigns, you should see steady or consistent results out of the gate (unless they tell you otherwise). Within the first month you will see similar results and should see an improved results by the second month. 

Firms within this category should already have good internal practices and processes for handling leads from AdWords and know how to follow-up quickly. However, if you’re new to AdWords or haven’t seen success with it, we’ll talk about working with leads and following up later on.

Law Firms New to AdWords or PPC

If your practice is new to AdWords or other forms of pay per click advertising, then you’re likely going to be new to handling this type of traffic and source of leads. With that said, your PPC or AdWords manager should walk you through what to expect in terms of measuring results. You may resort to keeping a spreadsheet of leads from PPC and search ads, call tracking or a combination. While it will depend on your law firm’s location, demand and competition, on average law firms can start seeing success over approximately a 3 month period.

Month 1 – Getting Traffic and Leads

After the first month of running Google Search Ads (AdWords), you should expect to see results in the form of more qualified traffic to your website and leads. The traffic can be measured through a website analytics platform like Google Analytics. As for leads, it will depend on how you decide to collect and track leads – be it through phone calls, contact forms on your website, both or otherwise.

However, it’s important to establish a method for tracking leads and measuring these results. Depending on the scope of your PPC manager’s role, it may or may not be their responsibility, so make sure you know how you’ll measure results.

Month 2 – Seeing New Intakes and Cases

During the second month, you’ll likely see an increase in the number of leads as your AdWords manager or consultant improves the keywords, targeting and impression share in your account. With the increase in leads, this should directly translate into your firm scheduling more initial consultations and appointments.

With new leads coming in the door and a portion of them converting into cases, you should be able to track which leads are turning into cases. This way, your ppc manager will have a better understanding of what is working well and what needs to be improved to fit your firm’s needs.

Month 3 – Establish a Baseline and Metrics

Again, it may take a little more or less time to reach this point if your law firm is new to AdWords. That aside, approximately around this time, once your investment into AdWords and PPC is validated through multiple intakes and several clients at this point, you’re ready to work with your PPC manager to look at the metrics and performance of your campaigns thus far. This will include how many impressions your ads are racking up, number of conversions, leads, intakes and new cases.

These are all critical for you to establish early on, so that your AdWords manager or agency, can set a baseline of costs and metrics to improve upon over the coming months.

3. Be Realistic About Your Ad Budget

When running AdWords for your legal practice, you have to be prepared to pay the price associated with it. Many sub-segments within legal services industry are among the best positioned industries for AdWords, but with that advantage you should be ready to pay up.

CPC for Lawyers

CPC (cost per click) is a metric used to measure how much your pay per click on one of your ads that leads traffic to your website. On average, across all areas of practice, lawyers have the highest CPC out of almost all industries that run ads on Google Search. The good news is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and in many aspects, you get to control who sees your ads. Hence your audience is very narrowly targeted. 

Depending on the area of practice, the areas you’re targeting and how many other law firms and advertisers are competing for AdWords space in your market, the prices will vary dramatically. However, there are leagues of difference between the prices a personal injury lawyer will pay compared to a real estate or family lawyer.

Divorce, immigration and employment lawyers can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $2 to $20 per click (depending on many factors), whereas personal injury and criminal / dui lawyers can see CPCs far north of $50 per click. That being said, it doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. These higher PPC are usually an indicator of lucrative keywords as they demonstrate high search intent and other law firms are fighting for that traffic. While these numbers seem astronomical and insane to pay for, later on, we’ll look at why you shouldn’t overly concern yourself with the CPC metric.

For now, just understand that it’s not cheap and to run ads in this space, you will need to pay.

Not Every Click is New Business

The other point to look at is that while you only pay for every click through to your website, not every click translates into new business. Assuming your keyword targeting, landing page, copy and ad messaging is spot on, still you won’t have every click convert into a new lead.

Instead it’s a number’s game. Your ad may get you 100 clicks and of that, 10 people call your firm or fill out a lead form. 10% conversion rate isn’t bad either. Just understand that there’s more than just setting up the ad and that you’ll see clicks and ad spend far sooner than new clients and files.

Budgeting for Your Area of Law

Depending on your area of law, you’ll have to budget differently. Several areas of law are much more competitive than others. To understand how you should budget for AdWords based on your area of law, check out our guide on google ads budgets for lawyers.

4. Hire an Expert or Prepare to Become One…

Generally, people who see the best results from AdWords are people who hire experts to manage their accounts for them. You can do it yourself, but there are tons of amateur mistakes to be made with Google Ads. While they do have a self-serve option called AdWords Express, it’s generally not a good idea to use it, especially since law firms pay a massive premium for advertising with the search engine giant.

AdWords Take a lot of Time to Manage (Properly)

When your firm is investing properly in its Google search ads campaigns, you want to be monitoring and watching how your ad budget is spent like a guard dog. While there are some boilerplate keywords to target and negative keywords to blacklist, there are many nuances and KPIs to be monitored closely.

The fact of the matter is nothing beats experience and expertise in almost anything that requires skill. As a lawyer, you know this. It’s why you know that the real learning begins after graduating from law school and passing the bar. The same is true of AdWords. Sure, you can save money and go the DIY route, but thousands of dollars and months later, you may realize it’s too much of a personal time commitment for you to manage yours ads, your firm and still practice the law.

Huge Platform with Many Specifics

The AdWords platform is massive, to accommodate flexibility for many different industries, advertisers and marketing strategies. To give you an idea of just how robust and feature rich the platform is, here are some of the more basic features an AdWords manager deals with:

  • Daily and monthly budget
  • Location Targeting (intent vs in-location)
  • Bidding strategies (target CPA, ROAS, Enhanced CPC, Manual CPC, Maximize Conversions, etc.)
  • Keywords Match Types Strategies (Broad, Modified Broad, Phrase, Exact Match)
  • Splitting up Ads and Ad Groups
  • Scheduling
  • Ad URLs and Landing Pages
  • DKI vs Static Ads
  • Conversion Tracking

These are some of the more basic and routine campaign settings, rather than nuanced decisions that go into configuring each of these high-level features. 

5. Create Great Landing Pages to Convert Traffic

When someone clicks on your ad from search, they get redirected to your website. More specifically, you choose the page on your site they’re redirected to. So when directing them to a specific page, there are several things you want to get right in order to get the most out of your ppc ad spend. 

Match Your Ad to its Landing Page

Before getting into several specifics, you can direct traffic to a specific, core service page on your law firm’s website. However, in most circumstances, it’s not a good idea to direct traffic to your homepage. Usually, it will be too generic, you’ll end up paying more and generating fewer leads.

Let’s suppose you’re a family lawyer, handling a variety of different cases and offering multiple services from separation, to divorce, alimony and custody agreements. You could create one ad, generically listing ‘family lawyer’, but you’ll likely end up paying more than if you created ads tailored for each of those services and groups ads by keywords that searchers will type in specifically for those respective services.

When people click on one of the specific ads, suppose separation, it should take them to a page specifically talking about separation legal services. Not divorce or family law in general. Regardless if you invest into creating landing pages specifically for your campaigns or just use services pages that already exist on your site, match the ad’s messaging to the page the ad directs visitors to.

Design Pages to Convert Visitors into Leads

Generally, there will be differences between your core service pages and landing pages. Your service pages will have information on the services you provide, links to helpful articles containing more specifics and FAQs. Landing pages on the other hand, are built more specifically for PPC ad campaigns. They have more call to actions, such as lead forms, phone number placements, live chat and click-to-call buttons. The purpose of a landing page is to convert as many visitors as possible into leads. 

This alone can have a dramatic impact on your conversion rate and results from AdWords. Depending on how your site is constructed, it may be fairly painless to create landing pages through your site’s CMS (content management system; e.g. WordPress). Otherwise, you can pay a monthly fee to use a landing page builder like ClickFunnels or InstaPage.

6. Call-Only Ads

Call-Only ads are a brilliant solution for lawyers on a tight budget. While you still have to be cautious as you’ll pay a rich cost per click (in many cases you’ll pay more for call-only) you can see results with fewer clicks.

Call-only ads only work on mobile phones and devices capable of initiating phone calls. So your ad won’t appear when people search on Google from their desktop and laptop computers, nor tablets in most cases. Not every click (which you pay for) converts into a phone call. However, in many cases, you can see phone through rates above 50%.

Phone through rate is calculated as:

(# of Phone calls made from clicks on ad) / (# total clicks on call-only ad)

Tip: Consider your hours of business, when staff are available to answer the phones and whether or not you have an after-hours answering service. This may impact when you want to schedule your call-only ads to appear so leads can be handled immediately rather than sending them to voicemail.

7. Handling and Following up with Leads

One of the areas where we see the most waste vs success with law firms trying to generate leads is the post-marketing process. Typically, the firms that see the most success from their ad campaigns have strict follow up processes and diligent about calling back their leads quickly.

Having well-trained staff and a thoroughly defined sales process can make a lot of difference in your lead to client conversion rate. It also sets a positive, first impression that your leads and clients experience in terms of customer service.

8. Focus on Client Value and Cost per Acquisition

Earlier we looked at how expensive the cost per click can be for law firms and how it varies substantially by area of law and target keywords. While these costs are daunting, they shouldn’t be your primary focus. Instead, you should work backwards to determine how much your willing to pay to acquire a new client or case.

Determine your Average Client’s Value

The first step in this process is determining the average case or client value. 

How much is a new client worth to your practice?

This may vary depending on the nature of your practice, whether your firm receives a lot of repeat or referral business from past clients. When looking at these second and third order consequences, it may be difficult for some firms to quantify. In simple terms, you can think about it on a case by case basis, of how much one new client generates in billables and revenues.

Calculate Your Lead Conversion Rate

Your lead conversion rate – also known in sales as close rate – is how many leads it takes to generate a new file or client for your firm. It’s fairly unheard of to have a perfect, 100% close rate; meaning that every lead becomes a client. Generally for law firms, close rates will fall between 1 in every 3 down to 10%, with 1 in 5 leads becoming a client being the average. Keep in mind, you close rate may be able to be higher provided your firm handles and follows up with leads properly.

With that handled, you should determine what your close rate is. Then you’ll be able to understand how many leads it takes to produce and new client and thus how much it ultimately costs you to acquire said client.

How Much are You Willing to Spend to Acquire a New Client?

When you understand on paper, how much your average client is worth, it becomes rudimentary to determine what you’re willing to pay to acquire new clients. From there, you can backtrack and determine, based on your close rate how much you’re willing to spend to acquire a lead and so on. This will allow you to determine limits and thresholds on the maximum you’ll pay for a new client, or in other words, the maximum at which it makes sense to pay to open a new file. 

Be aware that this isn’t how much you want to pay, but how much you will be willing to pay. Now, instead of thinking about cost per clicks, you can focus on monitoring your cost per case and CPA (cost per acquisition). So if you’re criminal lawyer and are happy to pay $1,000 for a new case, that’s a good starting point. You now know that if you close 25% of leads, you need 4 leads at an average cost of $250 per lead. At a 10-15% conversion rate, you can afford to pay an average maximum of $25 – $37.50 per click, which in most markets is very achievable for criminal law keyword CPCs

Because we can work backwards through the number, such a high cost-per-click no longer seems so intimidating. Instead, the math just works itself out.

9. Monitor and Manage Your Campaign Regularly

Earlier we discussed hiring an expert versus going the DIY route with AdWords management. We looked at some of the basics that go into setting up and initiating a campaign. Once these settings and configurations have been properly set up for your law firm, then is when the real AdWords management, monitoring and adjustments begin. 

Budget Time Commitment Accordingly

In order to ensure that your law firm’s inbound lead generation machine with AdWords is working properly, there will be ongoing maintenance to be performed. This involves everything from reporting, determining what ads are performing to spec and which are underperforming. Determining why there might be a lack of conversions, clicks or impression shares, etc. 

Depending on your campaigns objectives, a whole array of tasks from one time to routine housekeeping will have to be performed. If you decide to do manage your AdWords and PPC in-house, make sure to commit enough time to working on it, reviewing and improving your results.

Search Terms

Search terms are going to be one of the most important parts of a routine, weekly management process. Google Ads platform has different meanings for keywords and search terms.

Keywords are the search phrases you target and tell Google to display your ads for. Search terms conversely, are the search terms that people have typed into google when your ads appeared. They are not the same thing. Keywords give google hints on which search terms are appropriate to show your ads for.

Going through these weekly is analogous to making sure that your ship is sailing in the right direction. Checking on the relevance of what people are typing into google versus what ads are appearing and keywords you’re targeting will help you control your costs and ensure that your campaigns are driving the most qualified clicks and leads possible.

Add Search Terms That You Initially Missed

We don’t recommend adding only exact match keywords. The problem is that you’ll end up paying high CPC and have a very limited number of impressions and leads. Instead, you should consider targeting phrase match and modified broad match (NOT broad match) to open your campaign up to some flexibility while staying fairly relevant. This will allow you to find keywords in the future that you may want to add as keywords to target and bid on. 

Even expert AdWords managers know, while having a good starting point for setting up campaigns, you shouldn’t assume you know all the possible combinations of search terms people will type into Google. Locking your campaign in tightly on keywords is good. Locking your campaign down too tightly on keyword match types, many times is not.

Find Keywords that are Wasting your Ad Spend

Finding keywords that are irrelevant to your firm is going to be an ongoing chore. As much as these can be filtered with negative keywords before kicking off a new campaign, there will always be new keywords that crop up and you should blacklist. It’s the same concept as with locking your campaign down too tightly with all exact match keywords. These things happen, take time to find and remove to keep your campaigns running smoothly and ad spend on the right search results.

10. Track Conversions and Leads Closely

Finally, there is conversion and campaign tracking. Unless you’re a brand new firm the effects that AdWords can have working for your practice may be lost on you during those initial few months. From the start of the campaign, it’s important for both you and your adwords or ppc consultants to be on the same page with results. 

In order to know how well AdWords is working for you and calculate your conversions, CPA and other metrics, you need to see everything from impressions and clicks, to the effects it has one generating conversions and leads. 

There are several different approaches to tracking leads and conversions. First, it’s recommended to have Google Analytics installed on your website and setup conversions and goals through that platform. You can then integrate it with Google Ads to automatically pull through ad clicks and conversion data. You can see metrics like the date, time of day, weekday, conversion action (e.g. clicked a button, visited a key page, filled out a form, etc.) and more.

Beyond that, you can set up things like call tracking software that will automatically replace your law firm’s primary phone number with a temporary phone number. That way, in the event that a person who clicked on a Google Ad visits the website and dials the number, you can still easily identify that this was the result of your AdWords campaign. You can have the call tracking software automatically record the event in Google AdWords or Analytics as a conversion to keep all of the information consistent and tallied.

Conclusion

Here are the top 10 things that can make all the difference AdWords campaigns for lawyers that actually work and the campaigns that don’t. There’s a lot that goes into AdWords management, but when done properly can generate as many new cases for your law practice as your firm and the market can sustain. While CPC costs are abnormally high for attorneys relative to other industries, many areas of practice just fit so well with AdWords, which is in large part reflected in the price it costs to advertise on Google and other search engines.