Law Firm PPC: An Actionable Guide

April 15, 2021
By: Chris Dreyer

Your competitors are getting amazing results from using PPC ads in their marketing campaigns. How are they doing it? More importantly, how can you? 

According to Nathan Libbey’s comprehensive analysis, visitors who come to your site through a paid ad are almost 50% more likely to buy from you than a visitor who found you through a Google search.

PPC Protect’s curated PPC (pay per click) advertising statistics show that more than 3/4 of marketers who invest in PPC advertising see considerable benefits, and 62% say they’ll spend even more next year (Hanapin Marketing).

That’s a lot of people saying it’s so effective they need to spend more on it. So if PPC works that well, how can you understand it and make it work for your firm?

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What Is PPC?

Benefit #1: Get Search Traffic Quick

Benefit #2: PPC Can Be Measured and Tracked

Benefit #3: Target Specific Demographics Effectively

Benefit #4: PPC Works Well with a Variety of Marketing Methods

Benefit #5: Pay for Clicks, Not Impressions

Law Firm PPC: An Actionable Guide

Step 1: Choose Your Search Engines

Step 2: Define Your Target Demographic

  1. Custom Intent
  2. Target Affinity Audiences
  3. Go for Similar Audiences

Step 3: Establish Your Goals and Craft a CTA (Call to Action)

Translate Your Goals into a Strong CTA

  1. Target High Volume, Low Competition Keywords
  2. Do Competitor Research
  3. Adopt Basic SEO Practices

Step 5: Set a Budget

Step 6: Track Conversions and Measure ROI

Step 7: Use Ad Extensions

  1. Call Extension
  2. Location Extensions
  3. Sitelink Extensions
  4. Callout Extensions
  5. Promotion Extensions

Step 8: Create Ads and Ad Groups

Step 9: Use Display Ads

Law Firm PPC Is an Effective Way to Generate Leads in 2021

What is PPC?

Pay per click is a type of advertising that charges you a specific bid amount every time a user clicks your ad. 

Instead of paying a flat rate for an ad, you only pay when your ad actually does its job and attracts interested visitors. 

You’ve likely come across PPC ads while searching on Google before.

They’re usually at the top of the SERP (search engine results page) and are labeled as ads.

Why Every Law Firm Should Use PPC Advertising: 5 Benefits

Benefit #1: Get Search Traffic Almost Immediately

The beauty of law firm PPC is that it doesn’t account for your website’s age like SEO does. Which means you can outrank your competitors almost immediately as long as you bid for the right keywords. For example, while marketing personal injury practice, you wouldn’t put most effort on generic words like “legal services”.

SEO compels you to optimize your site for over 200 ranking factors. But PPC opens the door for you to start receiving high-quality leads almost instantly. 

So if you bid the right keywords and target the right audience, you can outperform your competitors.

Benefit #2: PPC Can Be Measured and Tracked

Another distinct advantage of using PPCs is that you can easily track and measure your results. You can use many tools, but I recommend the Google Ads tool and Google Analytics.

These tools prompt you to set goals and let Google handle Google. They help you monitor impressions, clicks, conversions, and other PPC ad performance data in real-time.

Measuring and tracking are essential to learn what’s working and what’s not. You can easily tweak your ad to perform even better. 

Benefit #3: Bullseye Specific Demographics

PPC advertising can only work if you know who you’re trying to reach and how to reach them. 

Fill in demographics like:

  • Income level
  • Parental status
  • Geographic location
  • Language
  • Relationship status
  • Educational background
  • Career or vocation

And a lot more.

Many law firms give in to the temptation to spy on their competitors and target the same audience. 

While this can fetch you some results, you might be better off digging deeper for audiences they’re overlooking.

Benefit #4: PPC Works Well with a Variety of Marketing Methods

Leveraging both content marketing and PPC goes hand in hand. 

Top-notch content boosts your organic search rankings and builds trust. Meanwhile, PPC ads bring visitors to the content fast.

Content marketing is well established in the digital marketing space, and many law firms are taking advantage of it.

Also, PPC and SEO complement each other quite well. While PPC involves an initial investment, SEO can simplify the process and help you get more high-quality leads through organic search. 

Plus, knowledge of SEO can help you choose the right keywords for your PPC campaigns. 

Benefit #5: Pay for Clicks, Not Impressions

The most prominent law firms are using a cost-per-impression model (CPM), which means they pay for every impression. The problem with this is that you’re paying for your services or brand’s exposure instead of the action you want your target audience to take. 

By contrast, you only pay for PPC ads if users click. Using the PPC model, you can focus on researching and finding lucrative keywords your law firm can rank for. 

CPM targets customers who might be interested but haven’t yet decided if they want your service. PPC advertising only targets customers who have shown interest in similar services or brands. 

And people tend to trust what ads offer them. The overwhelming majority (75%) of shoppers think paid ads are helpful.

9 Steps to a Profitable Law Firm PPC Campaign

Step 1: Choose Your Search Engines

Google Adwords is usually the first platform that comes to mind when you think about PPC. And while Adwords is excellent, don’t overlook others like YouTube Ads and Bing Ads.

There are several advantages to using Bing Ads in your paid search strategy.

First, Bing is more transparent with advertisers, letting you see where your traffic is coming from. 

They aim to empower advertisers with maximum flexibility. Marketers can tailor campaigns or ad groups to target a specific demographic, like small businesses or healthcare workers.

YouTube’s research regarding changes in user activity in 2020 reveal how people are currently using it. Marketers who heed YouTube’s suggestions about targeting customers on its own platform have every reason to expect better outcomes than those who don’t. 

Granular targeting is essential for an effective campaign, and YouTube ads provide you with detailed information about targeting the ideal audience. 

While each platform has its cons, each also has its pros.

Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads are similar PPC platforms. If you understand how AdWords works, shifting to Bing Ads is dead simple. Although AdWords is the market kingpin, Bing Ads has a lot to offer.

Therefore, incorporating both platforms in your strategy will help you attract new audiences and make the most out of your investment. 

Step 2: Define Your Target Demographic

Targeting by an audience is not all topic-based targeting. You need to target your ads based on your audience’s intents, interests, demographics, etc.

As a PPC advertiser, your advantage is that Google has already done all the hard work of compiling your audiences and classifying them based on user search history.

And your PPC ads have the potential of reaching clients in areas beyond your target topics. Best of all, you can leverage your audience’s data to optimize your targeting and bidding.

So what are the different ways you can target your preferred audience? 

1. Custom Intent

Custom audiences is a Google Ads function that allows advertisers to currently target audiences and actively research specific topics, services, or products. Use keywords and URLs to form your target audience based on the services your prospects are actively searching on Google. 

Google will even automatically generate custom intent audiences through crawling and reviewing your account.

Custom intent targeting is especially crucial if you’re looking to target users you may not identify using the in-marketing targeting option, or if you want to expand your focus beyond what in-market offers.

2. Target Affinity Audiences

If you’re looking to cast a wider net, targeting affinity audiences might be perfect for you.

Target affinity audiences are compiled based on customers who often search within a specific industry, such as real estate or insurance.

Suppose your law firm targets an extensive group, such as people with car insurance or investors who want to purchase homes. In that case, target affinity audiences are the perfect option for you.

You can tweak your audience list by adding a few keywords and using URLs just like in custom intent audiences.

Source: WordStream

3. Go for Similar Audiences 

The similar audiences feature leverages user profiles through a remarketing list to find patterns. 

If Google finds a pattern, it creates a similar audience or generates a list of customers with similar behavior. 

And if Google does not find any pattern through the remarketing list — because it’s too narrow or too broad, for instance — Google will create a similar audience.

Create marketing lists with proper segmentation, and you’ll make Google’s job easier.

4. Try In-Market Audiences

Google Ads currently appear on over 2 million websites, YouTube videos, and partnering apps that make up the Google Display Network

In-market audiences are users that are actively searching for products and services on sites that display ads.

If your firm offers a specific legal service, your ad can reach in-market audiences searching for that service. This list is also created based on the last purchases they made. 

You can find in-market audiences by browsing as you would with topics.

Step 3: Establish Your Goals and Craft a CTA (Call to Action)

Before you launch your law firm PPC campaign, you need to set goals that will help you track and measure campaign performance. 

These should include your project workflow and strategy.

To get started with establishing your goals, ask yourself a few questions, like:

  • What is my law firm trying to achieve with PPC advertising? 
  • Do we have an essential metric? What is it?
  • What results should I expect from this campaign? 

Answering the above questions can help you start defining your firm’s PPC campaign goals and help you make rational decisions.

And don’t forget to document what you did to make it work. 

You don’t want to waste time trying to recreate it. Find the objectives you didn’t achieve and figure out why. 

If you know why things don’t work, you won’t want to forget that either. 

Translate Your Goals into a Strong CTA (Call to Action)

Users like to be guided through processes. 

To get positive results with your law firm PPC campaign, ensure you write a strong CTA. 

And because you have limited space (35 characters) to write your ad copy, make sure your CTA is clear and concise. Tell your target audience what they need to do straight away. 

Words that evoke emotion can make your CTA convert better. 

A CTA asking prospects to sign up for a free consultation, such as “book a free consultation now,” will generate more leads because it’s offering free value. Who wouldn’t want a free consultation before they commit to you?

Even better, tell people why they should take the action.

What’s your unique selling point? Why are you different from other legal firms? 

Using your CTA to create a sense of urgency is proven to work. For instance, give your visitors a limited time to take advantage of a special offer.

Step 4: Implement Best SEO Practices in Your Copy

Your advertising strategy must be creative and persuasive. Speak your values clearly to your audience to boost your click-through rates. 

So how can you implement best SEO practices in your copy?

1. Target High Volume, Low Competition Keywords

When considering the best keywords to rank for, look for ones with low competition. 

Low competition keywords are easier to rank for, especially if your site is relatively young and doesn’t have high domain authority. 

Sometimes you can be lucky and find a low competition keyword with high volume. Be sure to take action on those.

Using a free keyword tool like WordStream, we see that the keyword “immigration lawyer houston” has a relatively high search volume (2,400 searches per month) but high competition.

To identify relevant and specific keywords for your business, you need to understand your audience well.

It could be challenging, but completely worth it. An adjustment in keywords can enhance CTR by 161%.

2. Write for Search Intent

Search intent — also called user intent — refers to the primary objective of an online search. 

It’s the reason a user searches for certain content and uses specific search queries.

Google’s success as a business depends on offering users the most relevant, comprehensive content first. 

Google also claims its mission is to put the world’s information in order and make it universally accessible and helpful.

So think about it: 

It can’t be helpful if it’s not relevant to search intent. 

If you want to generate an ROI, make sure your content addresses your audiences’ search intent first and foremost.

3. Do Your Competitor Research

By tracking and evaluating your competition, you’ll get a clearer picture of their practices and outcomes. This process is known as competitive analysis

An extensive competitor analysis will help you identify market trends quickly. So adjust to competitor strategies, and find differentiators that make your legal practice stand out.

The easiest way to find primary competitors is to start with a simple Google search for your business name, product suggestions, and business ideas.

After that, study your competitor’s digital impact by looking into:

  • Content and social media platforms
  • News shoutouts
  • Support threads and reviews
  • Niche organizations and online communities

Other notable resources include Ahrefs, Alexa, Keyword Spy, Hoovers, and ReferenceUSA.

Classify your competitors as such:

  • Primary Competition – These are direct competitors who are either targeting the same audience or selling similar products — or even both.  
  • Secondary Competition – These competitors may provide a high or low-end simulation of your legal services to a completely different demographic.  
  • Tertiary Competition – This catalog includes businesses that indirectly relate to yours and are helpful when you’re looking to enhance your service margin. 

4. Adopt Basic SEO Practices

If you’re a marketer, you cannot grow your client base if you’re featured on page 6 in search results. 

Here’s why:

Look at your title tags. The search engine algorithm evaluates your headlines to identify the subject and group it with similar posts. 

Keywords play a vital role in title tags.

You have 50-60 characters before the title gets cut off, so frontload the title tag with your best keyword for that page.

Headlines (H1 headings, not to be confused with title tags) should be captivating to inspire user interest. 

A good rule of thumb is to make your titles actionable to attract the most audience engagement from your content. 

If you’re skeptical about the title’s effectiveness, online tools such as CoSchedule Headline Analyzer can help. This app evaluates the overall structure, headline score, and readability of your title.  

While meta keywords don’t impact SEO anymore, other elements such as meta descriptions have a significant influence on optimization. Users will always see titles and meta descriptions first because that’s what appears in the SERPs.

Inexperienced PPC advertisers may take ages crafting their ad copy but fail to analyze it. PPC leaves no room for guesswork. Consider running an A/B test on your copy to determine which of two similar pieces of copy performs better for your audience.

Your ad should contain:

  • Product element
  • Advantages of using the product
  • A strong CTA

Make your PPC ads brief and to the point. Many advertisers make this mistake, which potentially costs them clicks.

Step 5: Set a Budget

You need to know the amount you’re willing to spend on your advertisement campaign and how your budget will affect the outcome.

A very tight budget may not generate the best results because the advertising platform will narrow your ad reach. You also don’t want to spend too much without learning the ropes. 

This is yet another reason why leveraging the power of A/B testing is so critical in law firm PPC advertising.

To help you figure out how much you should spend on your law firm’s PPC campaign, take some time and pinpoint your target audience’s characteristics. 

Consider the:

  • Lead quality
  • Purchasing cycle
  • Target cost per lead
  • Visitor frequency
  • Geographic location

For example, if your law firm needs to get 250 clients in 30 days, and your PPC ad campaign’s close rate is 15%, your pay-per-click should be 1667 per month. Assuming your cost per lead is $25, you’ll need $41,666.67 to run your law firm’s PPC campaign every month.

Step 6: Track Conversions and Measure ROI

Some marketers running PPC campaigns set their budgets, define their goals, research keywords, and then call it a day, ignoring the idea of calculating their return on investment (ROI). 

Big mistake. Never do anything halfway when it comes to PPC advertising.

To calculate your ROI, account for these factors:

  • Return on Ad Spend – To find your return on ad spend, subtract your PPC revenue from your PPC cost and divide by the PPC cost. The advantage of knowing this metric’s formula is that you can calculate it in seconds.
  • Return on Investment – Calculating return on investment is the same as calculating return on ad spend, except you’ll account for everything you spent money on to get the campaign running.
  • Pay per metrics – Bring in the most visitors for the lowest cost by digging into the search process.

Step 7: Use Ad Extensions

Ad extensions offer users more information and prompt people to take action on the search results. 

They draw more attention to your ads and get you more clicks. 

Knowing how to leverage extensions can give your CTR a boost.

For example, when searching for the keyword “criminal defense attorney new york,” you come across several ads with extensions.

Let’s take a look at the different ad extensions you can use.

1. Call Extension

Call extensions are trendy among advertisers because they feature your clickable business phone number right at the top of your PPC ad. 

Potential clients can find this number on their desktop and manually enter it on mobile to contact your law firm immediately.

Call extensions will be suitable for your law firm PPC campaigns if you have a big team that can handle a tsunami of incoming prospect calls. 

But if you’re an individual attorney, beware of the potential surplus.

2. Location Extensions 

Location extensions add your law firm business address at the bottom of your advertisement with your hours of operation.

When prospects click on it, they’ll land on a Google Map showing your exact business location.

This ad extension is excellent for your law practice if you have a physical address where clients can come in person. 

Geographic location will play a huge role in determining whether a client will purchase your legal services. 

In this case, it will help because most legal clients are looking for law firms with physical offices close to them.

Sitelink extensions are becoming increasingly popular. 

You can add short snippets that can act as your CTA, and users will be directed to your important pages whenever they click these snippets. 

What’s nice about Sitelink extensions is you can use them for any ad campaign.

If you intend to use them for campaigns where you need to attract clients early in your purchasing cycle, make sure you have included the most important links, like your About page. 

In other words, you want to make sure that your prospects get the information they need when making a purchasing decision. 

4. Callout Extensions

Callout extensions are not new, but they’re different from the ad extensions we have discussed so far. 

These include CTAs in your ad, but users can’t click them. However, they have more space where you can include extra information. 

Advertisers mainly use callout extensions to highlight the features or benefits of products or services. 

As a law firm, you can use this ad extension to include specific benefits of your legal services. 

5. Promotion Extensions 

Promotion extensions display below your advertisement in a way that potential clients can easily read them. Promotion extensions also include two lines of text explaining your promotion details. 

When a potential client clicks this extension, they’re redirected to the particular offer page.

These extensions can show on mobile and desktop formats and appear both at the top and bottom of Google search results.

Use promotion extensions if you want to target clients who are looking for special legal service offers. 

(For example: The United States tax season is a perfect time to target those looking for legal help or clarifications on their tax filings).

Step 8: Create Ads and Ad Groups

When creating your law firm PPC campaigns, you’ll need to set up ad groups and campaigns. 

Campaigns and ad groups are essentially folders and subfolders. 

It’s always your choice on the number of campaigns and ad groups you want to start with. You can start with a single campaign and ad group or choose to go with ten campaigns with 80 ad groups.

The number of campaigns and ad groups will also depend on the number of keywords you bid on. However, make sure you’re organized when creating your campaigns and ad groups to make them easier to modify.

When creating your law firm PPC ad group, keep in mind the following:

  • Ensure that your landing pages, keyword groups, and ad texts are integrated
  • Make sure the message is consistent and addresses what potential customers are searching on Google

By creating organized and well-aligned ad groups, you’ll pay less for clicks and likely get better conversion rates.

Imagine your ideal client searches for “international purchasing legal services” and you can send them to a page with every scrap of information about the international purchasing legal services your law firm offers. The chances of these leads converting are way higher.

Before creating your ad groups and campaigns, check your list of keywords to see if it’s possible to split them into small groups. 

One of the most common ways of splitting keywords is by brand, type of service, location, etc. Once your campaigns are running, you can split them again by performance.

There are usually restrictions on the number of ad groups and campaigns you can create, but don’t worry about this if you’re just getting started with PPC ads.

Step 9: Use Display Ads

According to a report by Wordstream, lawyers only spend 5 percent on display ads. This means that your competition isn’t leveraging display ads yet, and this an opportunity to outperform them and win more clients.

Display ads are one of the best ad tools in 2021 that you can use to attract more high-quality leads and increase your legal firm’s brand awareness. 

Today, 50 percent of marketers employ display ads as one of their most essential digital marketing strategies. Additionally, display ads are reasonably priced, and you can use them to reach your target audience fast.

Most advertising platforms use the bidding system to display ads. If you choose this route, you’ll need to bid on the keywords you want, and your advertising platform will preserve a spot for your ad.

Because PPC advertising allows you to control your budget and it uses a bidding system, the chances are that your competition might bid higher on specific keywords and get the ad spot ahead of you.

Law Firm PPC Is an Effective Way to Generate Leads in 2021

Let’s face it: 

Creating and maintaining your law firm PPC campaign in such a competitive industry can be challenging, especially when you’re running PPC ads for the first time.

PPC campaigns have proven to work for many businesses, but only when done right. Only by creating and monitoring an appropriate strategy can you expect to see high returns on your ad investment.

AdWords Call-Only Campaigns: How Lawyers Can Get the Most Out of Google

February 29, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Google’s commitment to mobile is no secret especially after their announcement about mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor in search.  Even before that algorithm change, Google introduced call only campaigns specifically designed to generate phone call conversions from users who are not interested in visiting a landing page to fill out a form.  According to Com Score, roughly 29% of search queries were performed on a mobile device (phone or tablet) making call only campaigns a very attractive strategy for the legal industry.

Why Mobile Click to Call is Important

Once mobile browsers that were actually usable hit the scene, mobile web browsing became more than the cumbersome novelty that it was born as.  Now mobile devices have become so powerful that consumers are using them as their go-to device for contacting local businesses at home and on the fly.

A study commissioned by Google on the mobile browsing habits of respondents aged 18-74 found that when phone numbers were associated with ads in search results, click through rates increased an average of 8%.  The study also pointed out that for 48% of mobile searchers the stage of overall “path-to-purchase” when click-to-call is most important is when they want to make their final purchase.

That last statistic is very significant.  When people call a business, they are usually ready to make a purchase or take some other big step forward in the purchase process.  For lawyers, that could mean consumers setting an appointment to talk about their legal situation.  This makes a well-configured click to call campaign a very powerful lead generation tool.

How it Works

Call only campaigns are configured in the same way search campaigns are except ads are not served for desktop searches and they are optimized for mobile device searches.  Otherwise lawyers set up campaigns and adgroups that contain targeting and keyword information just like search campaigns.  Optimization however is a different story (more on that in a moment).

Differences from search campaigns with phone number ad extensions:

  • Ads have less room for text (there are only two lines in call only campaign ads as opposed to 4 in search)
  • Unlike ad extensions for AdWords, phone numbers are replaced with call buttons making them easier for people to see and use
  • Conversion tracking is simpler: You can record conversions right from Google’s SERP as opposed to happening on your website.  This eliminates the need for installing conversion tracking code on a site and conversions can be counted as phone calls come in.  For example a call lasting longer than 60 seconds could count as a conversion.

Setting up A Call-Only Campaign

Call only campaigns are very easy to set up especially if you are already familiar with AdWords search campaigns.  Log into your AdWords account and go to your campaigns tab.

Click on the +Campaign button and select a new search network only campaign.

choosing call only campaigns

At the beginning of the campaign creation process, Google will ask you what kind of campaign you would like to create.  Make sure that call only is selected.

The next steps in the campaign creation process are pretty much the same as for creating search campaigns.  You will create adgroups, set targeting settings, set your budget and create your ad.  Since call only was selected at the beginning of the process, Google already knows to show your ad on mobile devices.  Make sure you set the right phone number where you want calls to be forwarded.

call only campaign selection

Here is an example of what ads look like on mobile (before the click):

call only ads live

Campaign Considerations

Call only campaigns can be very effective but there are some important things to consider if you want to get the most out of the feature.

Define your firm’s conversion:  A conversion on a call only campaign is a phone call.  When you think about it, just counting a phone call as a conversion without regard for length is a bad strategy.  There could be wrong numbers, irrelevant client inquiries or the call could simply be too short to convert someone.

Figure out how long a call needs to be in order for you to count it as a conversion in your data.  For example maybe a call only needs to last 90 seconds before you can say it is a real lead.  Some firms may need a call to last 5-10 minutes before they can legitimately say the ad worked at bringing in a new client.  Whatever that time frame is, set it in your account so you can get good information on your campaign’s success.

To add a new conversion tracking rule to your account go to tools -> Conversions and click the red +Conversion button.

conversion tracking

Choose phone call conversions from the options on the next screen

choosing campaign goals

In the prompt that appears choose the ad extensions phone option

ad extensions

Next you will set the call duration for your campaign.  The default length is 60 seconds.  You can also set many other values on this page.  Once you are satisfied, you will be prompted to pick the campaign where you want the conversion tracking applied.  Note that you will have to make your call only campaign first in order to assign the conversion to it.

assigning conversion

Tailoring Your Calls to Action

This may seem obvious but be cautious about how you write your calls to action for your call only campaigns.  In search, display and remarketing campaigns, the goal is usually to get people to click.  In a call only campaign, searchers are still clicking but they are not going to a landing page.  Calls to action like click here, apply now, contact us today, visit us now, etc do not really fit well.  Call only campaigns are targeted at people already looking to make a phone call.  Instead use CTA’s related to making a phone call (i.e. Speak to a legal specialist today, Call now, Talk to a professional now, etc).

Ad Scheduling

Scheduling of your call only ads becomes more important because the nature of their use is different.  People may browse on websites during evening or late night hours making the opportunity to generate conversions with form fills more likely.  Most people are not calling businesses (especially attorneys) late in the evening or during the night.  Unless your firm operates during late hours, you may want to schedule your ads to show during traditional business hours to save money and enhance the overall health of the account.

Schedule your ads to run during your normal business hours where someone will be around to answer the phone.  Of course you should also keep a close eye on your data to make sure you are not missing out on potential voice mails that could also be viable leads for new clients.  Ad scheduling can be configured during your new campaign creation process.  You can also go back in and do it afterward.

Call only campaigns can be extremely useful for the legal industry because people do not always want to fill out a form and wait for a response.  Lawyers may find it a better use of their money to generate phone calls from search as opposed to traffic to their site.  There is still a place for traditional search and display campaigns but call only ads fill that gap for people who just want to make a phone call.