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There are many industries and types of businesses that can benefit from advertising in Google search results. One of the best industries is legal services and law firms.

For many people, it’s not often that they need an attorney in life and even rarer that they may need an injury or car accident lawyer to help get compensation. For this reason, many people don’t know who to call when they need such legal representation and hence Google search is a great place to find an attorney when they need one. This behavior is what makes AdWords so powerful for lawyers, especially personal injury attorneys to use as a method of acquiring clients.

In this article, we’re going to go over our top 11 tips and techniques that can break your personal injury law firm’s AdWords campaign as successful and profitable as possible.

#1 – Use Manual Bidding for Optimal Control

If you’re new to Google Ads and AdWords, then the platform is going to have a lot of advice and tips for you to make your campaigns “more successful”. Beware of this advice. One of the things the platform will tell you to do is use an automated bidding strategy.

There’s a time and place for such strategies, but be cautious about using it for your law firm’s ads. Instead, we recommend that you use manual bids, where you control keyword bids at the campaign or ad group level. To demonstrate the difference in performance and results, check out the results we received from a campaign over 2 months on a low-end test budget of just $1,500 per month on search ads.

Month 1 Results – Maximize Conversions Bid Strategy

Month 2 Results – Manual CPC

As we can see, the difference in monthly results were night and day. Month 1 with automated bidding generated only 9 conversions and phone calls at a cost of $182.22 per lead while month 2 didn’t even spend the full budget available, generated 18 conversions and phone calls at a cost of $60.19 per lead. This means, by not following AdWords’ advice, we generated leads with a manual bidding strategy at a fraction of just 33% compared to the benchmark from month 1.

#2 – Average Position is Gone – Use Impression Share, Top of Page & Abs. Top

Google Ads has just recently removed the average position column and metric from search ads. This means you’ll no longer be able to view which position your ad is showing up in. A lot of marketers and ad agencies are pretty upset with this change. Thanks Google!

But it’s not all bad news. Fortunately, there are some other metrics available in the auction insights panel that will allow you to understand how well you’re bidding compared to your competitors. The metrics you want to focus on are:

  • Impression share
  • Top of page rate
  • Abs. top of page rate

There are other metrics such as outranking share and overlap rate, but for lawyers in a competitor area of law such as personal injury and accidents, these are the ones that we should focus on most.

How to Measure Them

What you want to do is understand with these three metrics how your firm’s ads are performing compared to your competitors. AdWords’ auction insights will automatically populate your competitors or other advertisers appearing in the same searches as you. Provided that the auction insights provide a relatively accurate list of your competitors, here are some formulas that you will want to follow:

  • Impression share > 80% – Your impression share represents how often you appeared for searches that you were eligible to appear on based on the personal injury keywords you are targeting in your campaign. If your impression share is less than 80% then your objective is to modify your CPC bids or monthly budget so that you’re able to appear in more searches.
  • Top of page rate > 80% – Top of page rate measures how many searches your ad appeared above the organic search results versus below. Your ads can either appear above or below organic results. If you appear below organic listings, you will have a dramatically lower click-through rate and likely won’t receive enough traffic to reach your target of new injury and accident cases. 
  • Abs. top of page rate < Impression share rate – Make sure that your absolute top of page rate is much lower than impression share. Absolute top of page is what used to be known as position #1. If you’re appearing in position 1 or absolute top of page frequently, then you’re likely bidding very high compared to competitors. This is an indicator that you can lower your bids, still appear top of page, but sacrifice ad position 1 in exchange for a lower cost per conversion. As you lower your bids, you should see your impression share rate climb and your overall cost per acquisition drop.

#3 – Build Landing Pages for Ad Groups

Typically, the best-converting pages on your website will be totally excluded from your site’s main web pages. These are what are known as landing pages and you should definitely invest in building them for your practice. This will increase your conversion rates and lower your cost per conversion. Your ad groups should be split up by type of case you practice. So for a personal injury lawyer, your ad groups may be as follows:

  • LTD & Disability insurance claims
  • Car accident
  • Worker’s Compensation & Injuries
  • Slip & Fall / Trip & Fall
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Mesothelioma

It depends on your practice and the types of cases you practice, but this is the gist of it. Each landing page you build can share the same structure and template, however, you should customize the text to reflect the ad groups keywords. Therefore, your mesothelioma landing page will have the heading “Mesothelioma Claim Lawyers”. Customize the copy to match the keywords within your ad groups. This has several benefits:

  1. Your Quality score will increase, translating into a lower cost per click, higher top of page rates and ad ranks.
  2. Your pages will share the keywords from your ads and produce a better user experience for your visitors. This will help to increase your conversion rates.

When you combine these two benefits, you’ll see a dramatic reduction in your cost per case acquisition since each ad click you pay for will be cheaper and your conversion rate should experience an increase.

#4 – Use Call Ad Extensions for More Phone Dials

AdWords (now known as Search ads) has a feature called ad extensions. These are an excellent way to make your ad stand out on mobile and desktop. While it’s recommended that you enable all ad extensions that apply to your campaign, it’s imperative that you enable call extensions on your search ads. This will give searchers the ability to call you directly from their phones simply by tapping on the phone number displayed within your ads. This way, people don’t need to actually land on your website to take action. The fewer clicks you require a user to perform in order to complete a desired action, the higher your conversion rates will be. Furthermore, most law firms want people to call them directly to qualify and book a consultation quicker. 

#5 – Track Calls to Measure ROI

By far one of the best value-added investments you can make for your law firm’s AdWords campaigns is Call Tracking. We use CallRail and the quality of their calls has dramatically improved over the past couple of years (it used to be somewhat laggy and static on the lines). 

Part of the problem with any advertising campaign is the ability to attribute and track your return on investment. Yes, Google AdWords and Analytics can track phone calls to an extent and you can program some custom actions to track when people fill out a form or tap your business’ phone number. However, not every conversion is going to translate into a good quality lead. So the cost per conversion and cost per lead should be counted as separate metrics, just as the cost per new client will be different. It’s so much more powerful to be able to see the Caller ID, phone number, track the call duration to measure lead quality and attribute it to your AdWords campaign as well as see the keyword that drove that lead.

For an extra $30 or $40 per month (which is what you’ll spend on the low-end for a single click as an accident/insurance attorney), there isn’t a single investment you could be happier with and be able to know with certainty just how effective your AdWords campaign is at signing up new cases for your law firm.

#6 – Tag your Conversions

When you start running an AdWords campaign, you’ll first see impressions appear in your account and then clicks. Ultimately you’re going to want to see that translate into phone calls, new consultations and intakes. However, there is a critical intermediary step – conversions. Conversions can be virtually anything you want them to be; phone calls, form submissions, live chat initiations, viewing a page, even engaging with your website for a certain amount of time!

We track all of these types of conversions in Google Analytics. However, you’ll want to use a subset of these for your AdWords conversions. The CPC (cost-per-click) in AdWords can be expensive, especially for personal injury lawyers.

So ensure that you only create conversions that are best suited to drive new client phone calls and inquiries. These are conversions are trackable actions such as:

  • Visiting a /thank-you.html after submitting a contact form
  • Calling a trackable phone number (e.g. CallRail, CallFire, Google Ads Phone Tracking, etc.)
  • Visiting your Law Firm’s “Contact Us” Page

The key to remember is that a conversion isn’t always going to guarantee a lead or a client, but is a necessary step or action a prospect takes toward signing up with your firm or booking an appointment.

#7 – Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion to Personalize Ads

We run a variety of attorney PPC ad campaigns for our clients and the fact of the matter is that they can become complex quickly with many keywords, ads and ad groups. Ensuring that your ads receive the highest quality score possible will help them appear higher in search results and win more bidding auctions. After you win the automation war with your ads, it’s time to win the right searchers over that need an accident lawyer and captivate clicks. 

In order to accomplish this, your ad needs to speak to people searching for a law firm like yours and closely reflect the search query the person typed in before seeing your ad. An excellent way to do this is to create your ads with dynamic headlines. Essentially, when people type in a search term such as “injury lawyer for car accident houston other driver at fault”, then your ad will appear because certain words within their query match one of your campaign’s targeted keywords, +car +accident +lawyer +houston, for instance. 

Quick Note: The plus signs are how you specify a modified broad match keyword in AdWords – see keyword match types for more info.

Using this, Google can automatically insert “Car Accident Lawyer Houston” into the headline of your search ad when it’s displayed to the person who searched for that query. This allows you to automate personalization in your search ads and generate more clicks.

#8 – Optimize your Headlines with Benefits

This leads us into the perfect segue for search ad headlines.

Headlines are a vital component to your ad’s success. They need to be relevant, compelling and pique your prospect’s interest. Many legal professionals tend to have bland headlines and copy each other. The key is to stand out from the rest. In fact, if you nail this one part, you can end up spending a lot less per click and less per client acquisition if you do this one part correctly.

Instead of focusing on just being descriptive, highlight some of your benefits and try to be as creative as possible. Every other lawyer uses headlines with:

  • No win no fees
  • Free consultation
  • Book a Free call

So write down a benefit for choosing your firm that your competitors don’t offer or a claim they can’t support (but obviously one that you can). Just make sure that the headline complies with your bar rules and ethics for advertising.

#9 – Monitor Which Keywords Drive Conversions

As your campaign progresses over the span of a couple of months, it’s time to revisit your keywords data within Google Ads and determine which keywords are driving leads and conversions and which are wasting your ad spend.

As we can see from the image above, there are a lot of keywords in our campaign that are generating clicks, but no conversions are being generated from these keywords or ad groups. As we can see from above, this campaign received 19 conversions in the past 2 months from a total spend of $2,724.60, however, there were many keywords that spent $936.98 of the total or 34.4% of the entire ad spend. By pausing these keywords or underperforming ad groups, we can redirect this wasted budget towards more productive and profitable keywords.

Bonus Tip: There’s a possibility that some keywords are generating clients although they aren’t registering conversions. Therefore, you’ll want to be careful and check with staff that manage intakes and deal with clients upfront. Ensure that the way the client found your law firm doesn’t appear to be through your AdWords and their case type doesn’t match keywords that aren’t generating conversions.

Add Negative Keywords for Poor Quality Searches

After you’ve been managing your campaigns for several months, you’ll start to see winning and losing keywords, as we discussed in the above part of this section about finding keywords that drive conversions. Once you find keywords that are underperforming or even irrelevant to your practice’s objectives, you should add these as negative search terms ASAP. This will make your search campaigns leaner and perform much better without having to increase your budget.

When it comes to keywords that are relevant but aren’t driving conversions, check to see if they’re getting approximately as many impressions and clicks as your top-performing keywords. If they are getting significantly less, this may not be an indicator that they are bad keywords or won’t drive conversions in the future, rather they just don’t have the same search volume and will produce conversions down the road, but at a slower rate. Monitor and measure later, until you can arrive at statistically confident conclusions.

#10 – Add Competitor Names as Negative Keywords

Many pay per click advertisers will say that targeting competitor names is a great way to scoop up clients from people who were looking for another law firm. In practice, you’re 100% allowed to advertise on search ads for your competitors brand terms (although you are not allowed to use their name in your ads). In theory, this is supposed to drive more clients and conversions, but in reality it won’t. When someone searches for “johnson accident attorneys”, clicks on the ad that brings them to your website and realizes you’re not Johnson, they’re going to click the back button and look for Johnson’s listing in the search results. It wastes your money and it can be an easy way to tick off your competitors. Especially if they’re bigger than your outfit, they may end up giving you a taste of your own medicine in the game of AdWords and it won’t be pretty (we’ve heard some stories).

However, even if you’re not intentionally targeting your competitors’ brands as keywords, there’s a good chance your ads can still appear for them. If you’re targeting the keyword “accident lawyers” and someone searches for your competitor “bob carter accident lawyer”, your ad may still appear and even get clicked on, like that shown in the screenshot above. That adds up quickly and represents purely wasted ad spend in your AdWords campaigns. If people are searching for Bob Carter, they aren’t going to hire your firm.

When you see these terms appearing, make sure to add your competitors as negative keywords. What we recommend you do is add these firm names and brands as either broad match modified or phrase match. You can add the full name, but adding just the surnames of the firm is best. That way if someone types in the lawyer’s full name or their last name in the query, it will be excluded. If you add keywords as phrase match, make sure you also add common misspellings so that they are also blacklisted.

#11 – Use Fraud and PPC Protection Software

The final third-party software we recommend you consider investing in is Click Fraud Protection software for your PPC ads. This software will track and monitor any suspicious activity from people (and bots) that click on your ads. When they find what their algorithms deem as foul play or fraudulent clicks, such as the same computer or phone clicking on an ad several times, then they can block this IP from viewing your ads again for a given time frame (e.g. 7, 14, 30 days, etc.). The concept is very useful, especially in the personal injury law space. We’ve experienced both marketers, other law firms and 3rd parties clicking on our or our clients’ ads before in order to waste our ad budget or spy on our landing page and campaign techniques.

There are a number of solutions on the market, we’ve used both PPC Protect and Clixtell. Neither is perfect, both of these products have some glitches, but PPC Protect is our preferred choice and best value in our opinion. 

Conclusion

AdWords (now known as Google Search Ads) is an extremely powerful method for acquiring personal injury and insurance claim clients through paid search. So much so, that average bids can range from double to triple digits. The tips and tactics outlined above, when implemented correctly should give you a powerful edge over your competitors. 

In order to get the most out of them, make sure you’re monitoring what’s going on inside of your ads account at least on a weekly basis, sometimes 2-3 times per week, especially if you want to be cautious about your performance and ad spend.