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Is your law firm looking to generate more cases and initial consultations from online marketing and search? Perhaps you’ve used search ads, such as Google AdWords in the past, but haven’t seen significant returns from it. Whether you’re new or have experience with AdWords, this article is designed to supercharge your campaigns and get your practice’s phone ringing quickly.

1. Use Geo-Targeting to Define Your Boundaries for Lead Acquisition

Most law firms have a good idea of what geographic areas they serve. Many law firms have clients visit their office while others may meet them at a café, make housecalls or visit their clients’ offices. Whatever your practice is accustomed to, make sure to closely model this in your AdWords geo-targeting strategy. Matching your campaign’s geofencing with your firm’s business model is critical in qualifying and converting leads into clients.

The Google Ads platform allows you to target the exact areas you choose. You can define areas that you want to include or exclude down to the zip code or pin-point on a map. It also allows you to define who will see your results, based on whether they’re in that area or searching for that location.

AdWords offers you three options.

People in, or who show interest in your targeted locations – This option is best if you’re running a high-budget, scaled campaign. Not only will this include people searching from within your geofence, but also those who search outside, but use keywords including the cities or states your campaign targets. This could be useful for expanding your search ads’ reach to people in several categories: 

  1. Those who live in your targeted locations, but are temporarily outside of your region
  2. Family or relatives that may be doing research for a lawyer for their loved ones

People in or regularly in your targeted locations – This option is more conservative and will be the starting point for many attorneys new to AdWords and search engine marketing. Even firms that have experience with search ads will continue to use this targeting option in perpetuity as it offers a more controlled approach to qualifying potential leads. 

People searching for your targeted locations – Among the three options, this one doesn’t necessarily include or exclude people searching within your targeted locations. Instead, it includes people performing search queries in Google for your target location.

2. Create Ad Copy and Text for All Ideal Client Segments

When we search engines like Google, we type in a specific query looking to get a list of highly relevant search results. The way you write copy for your ads should be no exception. In fact, Google AdWords and SEO are so competitive in the legal industry, that lawyers end up paying big bucks to show up in the search results and generate traffic to their website.

So they’re prepared to invest and go quite far to ensure their ads are as targeted and optimized as possible to convert impressions into traffic and traffic into conversions. In order to stay ahead of the rest, it’s imperative that your ad copy and ad is as targeted as possible. 

For instance, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you need to segment your types of cases further and identify keywords that people are going to search for specifically. So a civil litigator focusing on insurance claims, accidents and injuries may segment their list into:

  • Disability cases: Disability claim denial, long term disability
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Auto Accidents: Car, motorcycle, truck, snowmobile, boat, bicycle
  • Third-party liability: product liability, dog bites, premises liability; slip and falls

Each of these keywords can be clustered with their topic keyword (e.g. LTD, disability claim denial grouped into disability). However, if you practice in a large enough market, like a metropolitan area, consider segmenting these specifically. This increases your ad’s relevance both for the end-user and Google’s ad algorithm.

Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion to Automate Ad Relevance

One way to reduce the number of ads you create while still keeping your ad text highly relevant is to use dynamic keyword insertion feature. This is a somewhat more advanced feature inside the AdWords platform but can be very powerful.

Once you have your keywords created and segmented into ad groups, you can use DKI (dynamic keyword insertion). This will inject the part of the searcher’s query that matches your targeted keyword. In turn, this automatically personalizes your ad to their query in real-time. This enables you to focus on creating great ad copy and leaving the variance in search terms and ad relevance to the AdWords engine.

Include Benefits, Features and Compelling Copy in your Ad Text

One part of your ad’s title should speak directly to the user’s search query, as we discussed above. The rest of your copy should influence the searcher to click on your ad. 

The best thing you can do is include a benefit. In general, benefits will outline what the individual will get if they contact and sign up with your firm. Features are the next best thing, in our opinion to include in your AdWords title copy. Almost every injury lawyer working on contingency offers free consultations. Many people also expect a free consultation (whether you offer it or not), so it’s more of a feature than a benefit in this case. 

Finally, many firms choose to put their name in the ad title. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. The only drawback is that it takes away from the available space you have to list your features and benefits. Some would argue that their brand name is worth displaying in the title. Many firms would be right. However, if this person knew your name and you were top of mind with them, they would be calling you directly instead of searching for a lawyer in Google.

3. Build, Tailor and Optimize your Landing Pages

Within the Google Ads platform, the landing page is the page that your ad directs traffic to after it is clicked on. This could be your home page or a specific service page on your website. However, a PPC ads campaign, you want to squeeze as much potential out of your budget as possible. This is particularly true with AdWords campaigns, where your practice can spend tens or even hundreds of dollars per click and the ads are hyper-relevant to the individual’s search query. Therefore we want to apply techniques from the science of conversion rate optimization (CRO).

From a CRO perspective, the goal is to get landing page visitors to take a specific action. For most law firms, the desired action takes the form of a phone call or a contact form submission. Hence, the landing pages we create are designed to accomplish these specific objectives. 

There are some general best practices to follow to create a great conversion-rate optimized landing page for your law firm:

  1. Remove your main navigation – Your main menu belongs on your website’s main pages, not your landing pages. Menus take up valuable real estate and distract users from taking the actions that you want them to; making a phone call or filling out a form.
  2. Make the first headline message consistent with your ad’s title – Make sure that when users click on your ad, they know they’ve landed in the right place. If your ad includes the words “car accident lawyers”, those same words should appear in the first heading on your landing page.
  3. Ensure that the body copy is relevant and compelling – Make sure your landing page’s copy is consistent with your ad’s messaging and title. This will help your landing page experience score and hence your AdWords quality score. More importantly, your page copy should convey that you’re the right firm to hire for their case.
  4. Offer several CTA options (call to actions) for the visitor to take action on – Some people prefer to contact a lawyer over the phone, others rather fill out a form or use a live chatbox. Provide multiple options so that your page can convert as many visitors into lead and consultations as possible. Don’t bombard them with too many buttons or options, but provide multiple CTAs and buttons throughout the page to capture that conversion at the moment they were convinced to contact you.
  5. List the features and benefits of working with your firm – The moments leading up to a conversion differ based on the individual. Write about the benefits and features of working with your firm. Give them reasons why they should pick up the phone now, in lieu of continuing their search for an attorney.
  6. Include Testimonials and reviews – Once your visitors have seen your benefits, initial messaging and CTAs, it’s time to provide some social proof. List some testimonials or embed your Google reviews to showcase what past clients have to say.
  7. Add photos of YOUR lawyers and legal team – Use genuine, professionally taken photos of the lawyers to build rapport and trust. Humanize your law firm and show them the team they’ll work with if they engage your firm.

Customize Landing Pages to Fit your Ad Groups

If you segment your ad groups correctly, you’ll have an ad group for every type of case that you handle (e.g. disability, car accidents, etc.). Each ad group should direct traffic to a specific landing page to keep your messaging as relevant as possible. 

A/B Test your Landing Pages

A large part of CRO involves knowing what performs better. The information above gives you an idea of general best practices for landing page optimization. However, good CRO involves constantly testing, modifying and innovating to get the most conversions possible. Test things such as where you place your forms and call to actions, the positioning of your benefits and photos and more. 

Note: It’s important that you only test one variable at a time. Otherwise, it’s difficult or nearly impossible to understand what caused the delta in your conversion rate.

4. Get Your Phone Ringing Directly with Call-Only Ads

AdWords has a special type of ads for search campaigns called Call-Only ads. Instead of sending search traffic to your website, you can get them to call you directly from the search results page in Google.

The phone icon and number sandwiching the “Call” is how you can tell that you’re looking at a call-only ad. Upon clicking the ad, your phone will prompt you with a confirmation window and display the phone number. Note, that at this point the person who has not made the call, they are still in the confirmation stage. However, you have been charged for that click all the same by Google Ads.

PTR and CVR – Phone-Through and Conversion Rates

We see phone-through rates between 30% and 50% (one in two and one in three). In other words, for every two or three clicks our call-only ads receive, it will generate a phone call. This may not sound ideal to everyone. You may think that every click should produce a call. However, it’s essential to understand that this likely won’t happen. Some users may mistakenly click on it. Others may not realize that they’re going to initiate a call immediately. In any case, the best way to look at this is to compare it with conversion rates from ads that direct traffic to a landing page. Landing pages for an attorney would be in excellent standing to have a conversion rate of 15-20%. Yet, we’re talking about much higher conversion rates with call-only ads.

How to Get the Most out of Call-Only Ads

1. Use Call Tracking

Because you’re going to get charged for clicks that don’t convert into calls, you want to know how many phone calls your ads are generating. Google Ads has a built-in call tracking feature for this. It works by replacing your phone number (shown in the ad) with their own call tracking number. 

What annoys me and questions the validity of the ad is how Google handles the call-tracking. Before clicking, it shows your phone number in the ad itself, but when the searcher clicks on the ad and is prompted to call, it replaces the phone number. Now some people may not notice this, but I for one usually scan the number quickly by force of habit. 

Use a third-party call-tracking product. You can use CallRail or someone else, but you should definitely use them over Google’s built-in and free solution. This will allow you to avoid this problem altogether. Thus, the phone number people see in the ad text will be the same one they see in the confirmation prompt before initiating the call. By assigning a dedicated phone number from your call-tracking vendor, you can track this as a custom conversion through your Google Analytics and AdWords account. 

2. Run it when someone can answer the phone

The idea with call-only and click to call ad extensions is that the person interacting with your ad appears interested in calling your law firm and speaking with someone immediately. Make sure that there is someone on the other end of the phone when prospective clients call your office. This can be achieved either by working with a professional, law firm call answering service to support a 24-hour or after-hours line. The alternative is to simply restrict your ads to only appear during your business hours.

3. Set conversion goals 

Before you start running your call-only ads, you should define how you want to track your conversions. If you’re numbers-focused and analytical, then you’ll want to understand how much your AdWords and call-only efforts are performing. With some back of the envelope calculations, you can estimate how many phone calls it takes to generate a client. If you know how much your average client is worth, then you can determine the value of a phone call. Jot down this figure and plug it into your conversion settings. Also, gauge how long your staff has to stay on the phone to qualify a call for a consultation. You can plug this in as well. Therefore anything shorter won’t be counted as a call.

5. Expand Your Keyword Reach

The most conservative approach you can take when running search ads in Google is to target exact match keywords. This means that your ads will only appear when users type in exactly the keywords – or very close in variation – that you selected to target.

There are several problems with this. 

If you were to look at other AdWords accounts, you would find that there is a lot of missed opportunities by only targeting exact match keywords. Everyone thinks differently and hence will search somewhat differently for the same thing. So, many highly-relevant and quality search impressions and clicks that your ads could have received become lost opportunities. 

Instead, consider opening up your keywords to match for modified broad and phrase match keywords. This has multiple huge benefits:

  1. Much higher search impressions on quality, relevant search terms
  2. Lower cost-per-click as there will be less competition on broader search queries
  3. Great potential to attract more clicks and leads
  4. Enables you to discover new keywords to target

6. Take Advantage of Ad Extensions

Ad Extensions are easy add-ons or bolt-ons to your primary search ads. They don’t always show and Google will ultimately determine when in what combination and who to show them to. However, there are multiple benefits to creating add extensions in your account.

1. Occupy More Space on the Results Page

With ad extensions, your ads will appear bigger and take up more space than your competitors’ ads. This makes your placement for more prominent and increases the odds of you receiving the paid click.

2. Higher Ad Rank and Quality Score

As mentioned above, advertisers don’t control when the extensions are presented. Google will determine this independently. However, when they do, it’s because AdWords’ algorithms concluded that it would increase your ad’s overall quality score and hence ad rank.

3. It’s Free

Using ad extensions is entirely free. There’s no additional charge for using extensions. Google’s primary objective is to produce the best user experience for people using their search engine product. Thus, Ad Extensions are a way of them accomplishing that, by making ads engaging and more relevant. In fact, it could even slightly reduce your CPC since it may contribute to boosting your quality score and ad rank.

4. Promote Additional Features and Benefits

These extensions, in instances when they’re shown can be used to show additional benefits and features that your law firm offers. This could make the difference between the searcher ignoring your ad and compelling them to click.

7. Test Key Components of your AdWords Campaigns

Testing is a crucial component for law firms that are committed to generating leads and clients from search ads in the long run. The main elements you’ll want to test include:

  • Landing Pages
  • Bidding Strategies
  • Ads, Messaging & Copy
  • Conversions by Device Type

Each of these elements has its respective role to play in your campaign. Knowing what part of the funnel it impacts will help you finetune your campaigns and extract the maximum potential from your advertising budget.

Landing Pages

This was discussed briefly earlier, in the section about building landing pages. When you begin your landing page experiments, you could start experimentation with one or several landing pages. It’s recommended to start with one or two – regardless of your budget size. This isn’t contrary to the a/b testing put forth earlier. Instead, it supports that methodology. By experimenting with two very different landing pages initially, in many ways, we can accelerate the optimization process.

Start with two different designs supported by two different hypotheses. From there, determine the winning landing page and start A/B testing one variable at a time, comparing it against the previous winning iteration. In the above landing page comparison, the two pages have very different designs. Page B outperformed page A by nearly cutting the cost per conversion by half and more than twice the conversion rate.

Note: Illustrative purposes for explaining A/B testing. Conversion rates shown above are lower are for than what you may expect from AdWords, as this was run on a display campaign.

Bidding Strategies

Google Ads platform has a number of different bidding strategies to fit almost any advertiser’s marketing objectives. For attorneys and law firms, the goal we primarily want to focus on is regarding conversions. Therefore, the bidding strategies you will want to focus on testing are:

  • Target CPA (Cost per Acquisition): This focuses on attempting to achieve conversions at a pre-determined cost per acquisition, across all different conversion you may have defined within your Analytics and AdWords accounts.
  • Target ROAS (Return on Ad Spend): This bid strategy attempts to produce ROI based on the different types of conversions and their respective values. For instance, you may have a landing page with a phone number and a contact form. You may attribute a conversion value of $500 for every contact form submission, while a phone call is worth $750. Setting a Target ROAS of 500%, for instance, will attempt to generate those two conversions at different target costs. So, AdWords will attempt to generate a form conversion at $100 per conversion and spend $150 to yield a new phone call – both striving to achieve 500% ROAS.
  • Maximize Conversions: As the name implies, this bidding strategy is only concerned with getting as many conversions as possible for your practice’s budget – irrespective of the type of conversion. Therefore, pay special attention to the types of conversions you define for this campaign before applying and testing this bid strategy.
  • Maximize Conversion Value: This strategy allows AdWords to simply rack up as the highest sum of conversion dollars as possible. In order to think about this, this is somewhat a hybrid of maximizing conversions and target ROAS. Taking the example from ROAS with phone calls and contact form fills at $750 and $500, the algorithm will attempt to display your search ads to the people most likely to take high-value conversion actions on your website or call-only ads. Therefore, it’s less interested in the total number of conversions and more interested in a combination of potential callers and form fillers that will maximize their respective, total values.
  • Manual CPC: This strategy is different in two regards from the above bidding strategies. First, it’s a manual bidding strategy rather than automated by Google Ads’ algorithms. Second, it focuses solely on cost-per-click rather than conversions. However, it’s a bidding strategy we use for many law firm search ads. This is a good way to control cost-per-click and searches our ads appear for. For law firms that have a limited, but critical set of conversions (e.g. contact form and phone calls) this strategy is definitely worth testing, especially if you have the time to manage the campaign more frequently and like having a tight grip on cost control.

Ultimately, you need to test these to see what will produce the best returns for your particular budget, respective campaigns and marketing funnel. Every firm will have different objectives and approaches to their marketing and advertising, so these strategies may benefit firms differently.

Testing Ad Messages & Copy

AdWords recommends that you create at least 3 ads per ad set and it’s a good rule of thumb. What’s nice about this is that the testing itself is rather automated. AdWords will test your ads automatically to maximize interactions and achieve your conversion objectives. As weeks and months pass, all you’re required to do is cull the underperforming ads and replace them with new copy and messages that you desire to test.

Drive Higher Performance by Device Type

Both the Google Ads and Analytics platforms allow you to measure your results and segment by device categories: mobile, desktop and tablet. As of now, generally, the two best performing categories are mobile and desktop. These two see far more conversion and traffic activity than tablets. However, it’s still important to monitor and test your campaigns and landing pages at the device level. 

If you see a disproportionate conversion rate occurring on either desktop or mobile, then it’s time to investigate why that’s happening. AdWords allows you to use different landing pages / URLs for mobile and desktop. Therefore, you can continue using the landing page for the device that’s performing well and use a new landing page for the underperforming device.

Adjust Device Bidding

Another approach you can take to maximize conversion performance is to adjust bidding based on the searcher’s device type. Hence, if your ads are performing really well and generating a ton of phone calls from mobile phone users, then it may make sense to increase the number of ads displayed on mobile searches. 

You can accomplish this by:

  • Increasing the bid on the desired device types
  • Decreasing the bid on undesired device types

Rule of thumb is if you’ve saturated impression share, then you need to increase your bid on the desired devices. Otherwise, decrease bid on underperforming devices. This will free up more of your budget to be allocated towards your primary device target. In this scenario, your firm is merely increasing the volume of traffic from these devices rather than bidding more to acquire them.

8. Manage your AdWords Account Regularly

A profitable and healthy AdWords account requires regular management. There are several things an AdWords manager should do on a recurring basis. This involves:

  • Looking for bad and negative keywords
  • Finding new keywords to target
  • Measuring the performance of keywords, ads and search terms

How often you check on your firm’s ad spend and performance will likely depend on your account and campaigns’ maturity, budget and market size. The larger the market, the more attorney-related search impressions and search terms your campaigns will rack up. As this happens, it becomes vital for the account manager to look at what search terms your law firm’s ads are appearing for. While a good campaign will start with one or several lists of negative keywords, it’s unlikely that you’ll catch them all. Different markets and regions use different terminology. These could also end up being keywords that you want to add to your ad groups and target to expand into new search terms and find more valuable search ad opportunities.

9. Use PPC Protection Software

PPC protection software can vary in their features and perform a number of functions. This is a fundamental necessity for law firms. Most law firms are going to be advertising in Google search results within a geo-fenced region; usually in their own market. PPC protection is analogous to insurance for your ads. Pay a small monthly premium and in return, they will block devices that seem to be clicking on your ads invalidly. This form of abuse is known as click fraud.

Is it Necessary?

No. However, we’ve seen first-hand that clients have wasted thousands of dollars on AdWords that have very suspicious click history. This obviously didn’t happen to accounts that we managed, rather accounts managed by other marketing agencies with Google Premier Partner status. It’s difficult to prove where these clicks may have come from. Some of the common sources of click fraud originate from unscrupulous competitors, ad agencies and click farms.

As mentioned above, it’s like an insurance policy for your PPC ads. Completely elective at that, but a smart investment as in many cases it will save you more money per month than the cost of using it.

10. Use Responsive Search Ads

When using AdWords, or Search Ads, the conventional ad type the platform offered was called text ads. This later evolved into expanded text ads. Now, Google Ads has taken it one step further. So far, it’s a welcomed addition for AdWords managers and digital marketers.

Responsive search ads are the newest release the AdWords platform has to offer. It’s an excellent way to load your ad copy into an ad group and have Google accelerate the process of testing and determining the best performing ads. Responsive ads will mean that a law firm can insert all of the benefits, keywords, features and branding into the title and description and have Google test the best combinations.

Responsive search ads allow advertisers to enter their headlines (which compose the title link in blue) as well as several description options. There isn’t nearly enough space to display all of these in one ad. So instead the main idea is that the AdWords system will prepare combinations of the headlines and descriptions to distill into an ad. If your firm plans on taking advantage of this feature, the most important thing to be aware of is controlling these combinations.

Using Responsive ads can be great, but this is definitely an issue to be addressed when creating these ads. The example above illustrates what can go wrong when we don’t exercise some control over the text combinations.

Within the responsive search ads interface, your law firm’s Adwords manager can control which positions that headlines appear in. This is controlled by the thumbtack/pin icons to the right of the headlines in the editor. By clicking on the pin, the headline can be locked into one of the three positions that will be used to compose the ad’s title. AdWords says that unpinned position is recommended, but we just saw an example of what can happen if we do that.

There are some instances where unpinned will work fine, but we want to format our ads in such a way that provide relevant information to the searcher and generate quality, relevant clicks on our ads.

This example, headlines have been pinned as position 1, 2 or 3 depending on the information in the headline:

  1. Type of lawyer, match relevant keywords that searcher typed into the search box
  2. Benefit, feature or compelling headline
  3. Law firm’s name

Although this ad type can create many combinations of ads from one editor, it’s still recommended to use 3 ads per ad group. Several things you can do is create 3 responsive ads per group and: 

  • Changing the order in which the headlines are pinned
  • Use a new set of benefits or features
  • Use to positions for benefits and features, removing the branded position

There are multiple tests still to be performed. Responsive search ads may help accelerate that process dramatically. Finally, combine this with dynamic keyword insertion and this can create a very powerful ad structure.

11. Run a Remarketing Campaign

AdWords is a great fit for the legal industry. Depending on the area of practice, it can generate a ton of phone calls and intakes for a practice. However, one of the biggest issues with it is the cost. Because of its ability to produce leads and cases, many law firms bid to show up in the search results. This, in turn, raises the price that all firms – including yours – pays to get traffic.

A lot of work can be performed to increase conversion rates, but one of the best ways to accomplish this is by running a remarketing campaign. It will depend on the area of practice and hence the keywords a lawyer bids on, in AdWords, but it can be very expensive. Suppose an attorney spends $20 per click, on average. Ultimately, after a visitor clicks on your practice’s ad in the search results, the money has been spent. It’s now the site’s responsibility to convert that paid visitor into a paying client. With such a rich CPC, it would almost be unreasonable not to spend an additional $1-2 per click on a remarketing campaign to convert several additional visitors into leads.

Remarketing can help accomplish just that. Some areas of practice will be able to run a remarketing display campaign with Google Ads. However, Google is pretty strict and have been known to shut down remarketing campaigns for lawyers before (due to ad policy violations). The good news it that Google isn’t the only game in town. For instance, any website that has a Facebook pixel installed on their website has a huge amount of target remarketing capabilities. 

In closing, there are several things one can do to get the most out of their remarketing campaigns:

  • Include familiar or the same images visitors saw on the adwords landing page in the remarketing ad creative
  • Build an audience using URL containing to retarget ads to visitors who visited the specific landing page or even by UTM parameters to target adwords and CPC specific tags
  • Exclude anyone who took a conversion action on the landing page

Conclusion

Google Search Ads really are powerful for producing new buzz for your legal practice. Above, we went over many different methods and tactics to incorporate into your AdWords campaign strategies. Work on every part of the funnel – location, targeting, ad copy, landing pages and beyond. As a final note, remember that the AdWords platform is massive. It’s designed to cater to virtually every different type of business looking to advertise online and in search engines – not just attorneys and law firms. Keep that in mind as you implement these in your campaigns.