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Google Ads for Lawyers: Full Guide How to Do It Right

updated
September 1, 2022
21 min
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Marketing

If you are interested in a fast and effective method for converting users into clients, consider Google Ads for lawyers. Chances are that competing law firms have already realized the power that Google Ads have when it comes to customer acquisition.

They also understand how paid Google Ads for attorneys are most prominent on search engine results pages in many cases. Additionally, many law firms realize that even with a solid organic search strategy, paid search can accelerate traffic and conversations.

Clearly, Google Ads should probably have some role in the marketing strategy for your law firm. But how do you ensure you get the maximum return on investment? We’ve written this guide to detail some best practices and mistakes to avoid.

What Is Google Ads for Lawyers?

To understand Google Ads for lawyers, it helps to first understand what pay-per-click (PPC) marketing for lawyers is. In this form of online advertising, your law firm pays a small fee each time someone clicks on one of your ads. Google Ads for attorneys uses a PPC advertising model.

The reason that many law offices choose Google Ads is that the platform allows them to essentially purchase traffic in addition to earning it organically.

Imagine that you want your website to rank for a very popular keyword phrase. You would be in competition with many other law firms. What you could do instead is bid on that phrase in a Google Ads campaign. If you are willing to pay enough, you will land at the top of the search results page no matter what the organic results are.

Once your ads appear in search results, people will click on them. You will pay each time that happens. However, the cost will be much less than your return on investment as long as your Google Ads campaign is set up strategically.

It can take some trial and error to perfect this. Many law firms opt to work with an agency that specializes in PPC services for lawyers when they get started. This arrangement helps them to ensure that their Google Ads campaign works right from the start.

Google Ads Management for Lawyers: Research

Start with Keyword Research

If you decide to invest in Google Ads for law firm marketing, you’ll want to conduct keyword research prior to going any further with your ad campaign. There are paid keyword tools you can use for this purpose, but if you have a Google Ads account, there is a free tool available for you to use.

That’s the Google Ads Keyword Planner. This tool allows you to enter and research any keyword phrase to get an estimate of its cost per click (CPC),  competition, and search value. 

The idea is to determine which keywords will be most valuable to your firm. This value is usually related to the relevance of the term to your area of practice and other details. Imagine that you have a criminal defense practice in Springfield, IL. Will you get more leads from “criminal defense lawyers” or “criminal defense attorney in Central Illinois”?

Google's keyword planner tool allows you to start with a base keyword. Then, you can find related phrases or variants as alternatives. You can also learn the search metrics for lists of phrases that you may already be using.

Here is a list of keyword phrases we want more insights into:

google ads keywords for lawyers

Click on "Get Started" and see the following results:

google ads keywords for chicago lawyers

Pro Tip 1: Focus on Longtail Keywords

You are going to get higher-quality leads using long-tail keywords instead of using simple terms that are just one or two words long. There is significant competition over these simple keywords, and often only the firms with the largest law firm Google Ads budget are able to compete for them.

With Google ads, it is always costly to be too generic. In most cases, you won’t get a sufficient return on your investment. Fortunately, there are other ways to use keywords that will pay off. You want to focus on long-tail keywords that more specifically target the user’s search intent.

Think of it this way. A simple term like "attorney" is too contentious. However, that term can be built on to create several long-tail keywords that are more likely to match the search phrases your potential clients use.

Those are the phrases you want to include in your search ads. “Attorney” becomes “immigration attorneys free consultation.”

Identifying long-tail keywords for your Google ads campaign will require you to understand the problems your clients are trying to solve and the questions they are trying to answer. The difference between a fruitful keyword phrase and one that is too generic may be just one or two words.

Pro Tip 2: Use Different Keyword Match Types

In Google Ads for law firm marketing, your keywords will be categorized according to match type. These keyword match types help to determine which Google searches will trigger your ads to appear. 

"Broad match" will show your Google Ads content to a larger audience. Conversely, "exact match" content will be displayed only to a smaller, more targeted customer group who use your exact target phrase in their search results.

There are several keyword match types for search ads. You should take the time to learn the differences. The match types you choose will make a big impact on the performance of your campaign.

Here are the different match types:

keyword match types for lawyers

If you select "broad match," your ad will be triggered to display when users search for that exact search phrase, synonyms, plural forms, spelling errors, and related search terms. So the key phrase “criminal attorney” may also be triggered by searches for “defense attorney.”

"Phrase match" will trigger an ad for the exact keyword phrase or close variations. These include singular and plural, synonyms, abbreviations, longer variations, and the use of keywords in a different order. This setup means that both “divorce lawyer” and “divorce lawyer experience” will trigger the ad.

"Exact match" is the most specific keyword grouping. Here, ads are only triggered by the exact search term or a very close variation. A close variation includes words in a different order.

However, that order change can't change the meaning of the phrase or add or remove main words. Allowable changes include adding or removing conjunctions, articles, and prepositions.

"Negative" matches are phrases that should not be included in the search if your ad is to appear. For example, you may be a defense attorney who doesn’t handle traffic law cases. You might list “-traffic," “-DUI," “-speeding," and other such terms as negative keywords. Then, anyone using these terms won’t see your ads.

If you select broad match, you will maximize your impressions and click-through rate. However, you will also have traffic that isn’t going to move further down the conversion funnel. On the other hand, exact match keywords will bring you the most relevant leads, and you will get a higher conversion rate. The caveat is that you will receive fewer impressions overall.

There isn’t necessarily a best keyword match type to use overall. It really depends on the specific keyword phrase. If you have a list of optimized phrases, group them according to match type.

Incorporate Your Keywords into Your Law Firm Google Ad Campaign

When you create the copy for your web pages, you can optimize it by using keywords that will improve organic search results. You will need to do the same for your Google PPC ads.

Ideally, your target keywords will appear in several places, including:

  • The Google Ad headline
  • The ad copy
  • The ad web address (URL)
  • Any ad extensions

You may not necessarily be able to add your target keywords to every element of your Google Ads content. However, you can get good results by using three at a minimum.

Quality Score is the metric that Google uses to determine how relevant keywords are to your PPC campaign. Your campaigns will see a better return on investment if you can improve this score. You can do this by ensuring that your keywords appear in both your ad and the landing page that users visit when they click that ad.

Including your keywords on the landing page communicates that it is relevant. This setup increases trust, improves the user experience, and boosts conversion rates. All of these things will improve the Quality Score of your ad campaign.

Pro Tip 3: Google Local Ads Services for Lawyers

Google local services ads for lawyers are intended for attorneys who service clients locally. When you use Google local service ads for attorneys, you make your ads more visible to people conducting local searches. This visibility will increase your click-through rates and allow you to reach your target audience.

The right Google services ads for lawyers allow your pages to show in search results pages for local search inquiries. Your potential clients can contact you directly from the ad. They don’t have to enter your website or dial their phone to do so.

Pro Tip 4: Demographics and Targeting Can Help

As you set up your Google Ads campaigns, you will define which users you want to see your ad groups. Since lawyers tend to serve a specific area, many start with location-based targeting.

You can use location to target three types of clients: prospects searching for services in your location and prospects who are in your area (constantly or regularly.)

In many cases, lawyers are licensed in just one state. They may not attract clients from very far away either. Because of this, geographic targeting that is limited to a small area makes sense. For example, an attorney might target their immediate vicinity, so their ads are only viewed by people who live and work in that area.

If you were an attorney who practiced in Baltimore and was only licensed to practice law in Maryland, there would be no need to reach people in nearby Alexandria, Virginia

There is also a radius feature that you can use to target prospective clients who are within a predetermined distance of your practice. With radius targeting, you can also use targeting exclusions to indicate that certain geographic areas should not be shown your ads.

This feature is valuable for attorneys who have practices that may be near another state or country. For example, a lawyer in Southern California could exclude Northern Mexico.

The reason that this kind of targeting is so beneficial is that PPC campaigns tend to be costly for attorneys. Demographic targeting ensures that ads are displayed to users who are most relevant. Additionally, dialing in targeting helps to reduce competition over the most popular keyword phrases.

Get Acquainted with Your Competitors

Google Ads gives attorneys a competitor research tool. This tool allows you to see which law firms you are competing with within Google search results. To see this, you’ll use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool.

To use the Google Ad Preview tool, you will enter a target keyword phrase for your PPC ad campaign. Then, you can enter a city or zip code for audience targeting.

The tool even allows you to select the types of devices your audience uses. You will probably decide to use the tool to preview mobile and desktop. This setup will allow you to see any differences for prospects on both device types.

Google's Ad Preview tool will show you the ads that are likely to appear in search results near yours. This insight can help you with writing your ad copy — you will want to attract searchers and encourage them to click your ads and not those of your competitors. 

There are several other tools available that serve up competitive data, such as PPC spending, ad copy, bidding, and configuration of Google Ads campaigns. These include:

After you know what your competitors are doing in their campaigns, you can write advertising copy and configure your own marketing campaigns to outdo them.

Optimize Your Landing Page

Your lawyer landing page is the first website experience that those who click your ad will have with your law firm. Since PPC is expensive in the legal field, you will want your landing page to perform quite well.

It’s imperative that your landing pages are relevant to the keywords that the prospect used to see your ad in the first place. To ensure this, you will want to create a custom landing page for each ad group.

The term ad group refers to the Google Ads that are associated with a target keyword. For example, you may have several ads for car accident-related injuries. Since those are within the same group, you would create a landing page for them that aligns with that search intent. This configuration will help you to achieve your primary goal, which is to generate leads for your law firm.

Attorneys often choose to create and publish landing pages that are not a part of their practice website structure. This setup is often chosen because their ads may include offers that they don’t want to share with regular website visitors. Such a setup is fine. However, it is important to use the right meta tags and exclude those landing pages from search results.

It is possible to create a high-converting landing page. Start by following these tips:

  • Use an attention-grabbing headline that aligns with the ad text
  • Write ad copy that further details why prospects should choose your firm
  • Include a click-to-call or tap-to-call phone number
  • Implement user-friendly lead capture forms
  • Incorporate relevant videos such as client testimonials
  • Add trust elements such as membership badges and ratings
  • Integrate chatbot technology to provide 24/7 support

All elements relating to conversions must be easy to find and use.

It's important that you review and understand any rules that the ABA or other authority sources have regarding law firm ads. You are responsible for ensuring that your messaging adheres to those guidelines.

Contending with landing page design while managing a PPC campaign can be daunting. Many law firms seek out website services for lawyers, especially during their initial advertising campaigns.

Google Ads Management for Lawyers: Setup

Decide Your Campaign Goal

You will start to build your Google Ads campaign by selecting a goal. Each goal Google lists includes help text that provides additional information about it — just hover your mouse pointer overtop.

To have your Google ad show in search results, you will need to choose a goal that relates to the campaign type “search.” Google Ads' options for search include the following campaign goals:

  • Website traffic
  • Leads
  • Sales

If you want to receive calls directly from Google users, select leads or sales. For the most part, your law practice ad campaigns will use sales or leads as the primary goal.

Choose Your Campaign Type

Now, you will choose your Google campaign type. You’ll select "search" for this. This option ensures your law firm’s ads appear on search engine results pages (SERPs).

It’s important to know that even if you select "search" as your campaign type, your ads will show on the display network by default. However, you can turn this setting off even after your ads campaign has launched. It’s a good idea to take this step.

You don’t want your search ads converted into images and broadcast as display ads unless you change other settings. Otherwise, your impression metrics will increase, and your campaign performance will dwindle.

To identify your campaign goals, you have to know what you want users to do in response to your ad. For example, should they call your firm or go to a page on your website? There are checkboxes for you to select the specific results that you want.

Customize Settings

You will enter your website and phone number. After that, you can customize your campaign’s general settings. Start by reviewing the settings you have thus far, then name your campaign.

Make sure to deselect the option for display or other networks suggested by Google ads. Otherwise, you will spend some of your advertising budget on those media instead of Google search ads.

To be clear, the display network isn’t a bad option for advertising. It works very well for remarketing and brand awareness. For example, you could share a display ad with people who have already visited your website at least once.

However, if you want display ads to be effective, you really need a separate, dedicated campaign strategy for those ads. They use visual elements and need content that is specifically created for display ad networks.

Determine the Beginning and End of Your Campaign

Under the "general settings" section, there is a link to show more settings. Click on this, and you will be able to set the start and end times for your PPC campaign. You don’t have to do this, but it can help to keep your ad spending under control. If you do not select this option, your campaign will be ongoing, and you will pay for any clicks your ad gets.

You will also see campaign URL options and dynamic ad settings. These allow for detailed campaign tracking. However, most lawyers won’t require this much detail.

Track Your Conversions

There is a conversion tracking option in the Google Ads settings. If you aren’t tracking conversions already, you can click on that link, and you will be able to set up tracking. When you do this, Google Ads will be able to recognize when someone who clicks on your search ad takes a conversion action on your website.

Google Ads will show you the steps you will need to take to track those website conversions. For example, if you track the people who complete lead capture firms, you will have to add a bit of code to the confirmation page that displays after users enter their information.

Conversion tracking can be complicated. You may want to get help implementing this unless you happen to know HTML. It's also important to be aware of what to expect from a Javascript snippet before you install it on your website.

Build Your Ad

Google Ads recommends that you have at least three ad creatives for each ad group. This selection gives Google Ads the best chance of serving a top-performing ad to your target prospects.

In Google Ads for Search, you are able to add text to the headline and description for your ad. If you have created ad extensions previously, these will also appear in the preview. The specifications for these texts are as follows:

  • Headline 1,2,3 — 10 characters each, Headline 3 is not always shown
  • URL Display Path 1 — 15 characters
  • URL Display Path 2 — 15 characters
  • Description 1,2 — 90 characters each

Each separate headline is pipe separated. Additionally, the first description line will have a period added to it automatically. You will probably have to experiment a bit before your Google ad copy looks exactly the way you want it to.

As you edit your ad copy, make sure to view the results on both mobile and desktop platforms. You want your ads to be effective on both. Sometimes ad text will be truncated with ellipses. If that copy is important, you can have it included in an ad extension or callout.

You can reenter your ad extensions easily. Start by saving your ad. Then navigate out to the ad extensions dashboard for your Google PPC campaign. There you can add a new extension or edit one that you have already created.

After you have finished, you can navigate back to the ads tab. Then, finish working on your ad creatives. You can also toggle back and forth until you think your ad copy and extensions work well together.

If you aren’t sure what you should put in your Google Ad copy, you can use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool again. Just look up the keyword phrase for your ad group. Then, see what the competitor ads that are on top of the search results pages look like. Do this for both mobile and desktop.

You will be able to see the ad copy that your competitors are already using to attract your target clients. Use their copy as inspiration or as something to improve on. In any case, you need to make sure that your ad copy aligns with the landing page you serve and that both match user search intent.

Google Ads for Lawyers: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

Using Too Many Keywords

"Keyword stuffing" is just what it sounds like. It involves inserting too many keyword phrases into a website in order to attempt to cause the page to rank for those keywords.

Today, Google runs advanced algorithms that detect keyword stuffing and ensure stuffed content isn’t given high priority. It is much more effective to create quality, relevant advertising content than to repeat the same phrase multiple times.

Passing over Negative Keywords

You can use negative keywords to limit who will see your ads. The right negative keywords ensure that your ads do not appear when specific keyword phrases are used. This setup can help you achieve the following:

  • Boosting your click-through rate
  • Increasing conversions
  • Saving your advertising budget
  • Increasing return on ad spend
  • Attracting better leads

If you find that you are getting many clicks but few conversions, you might try adding some negative keywords to improve the relevance of your traffic.

Ignoring Quality Scores

Google gives websites a quality score. This score is a ranking that indicates the quality and relevance of the site as it relates to lawyer PPC services and keywords. The quality score will determine your cost per click. It also impacts where ads are ranked in search and can impact which ads can be included in an ad auction.

The auction mechanism is a process Google uses to ensure that only relevant ads are shown to users. Lawyers who want their ads in the auction must pay a significant amount of money if their ads are not relevant.

Landing Page Errors

Landing page performance is a key part of Google ad campaigns. If users encounter errors or other issues that impact their experience, bounce rates will increase while conversions decrease. If you aren’t tracking your landing pages, you could be missing potential issues that are frustrating users and degrading performance.

The most common issues relating to landing pages are:

  • Pages that are slow to load
  • Expired or broken links
  • Cluttered or confusing copy and visuals
  • Lack of mobile optimization

Many of these issues can be avoided with proper landing page design. This work includes thoroughly testing for the factors listed above. A law firm web design agency can ensure landing pages are rolled out correctly.

Ignoring Ad Extensions

You can use ad extensions to make your search ads more noticeable to users. Extensions are additional information that you add to your copy to increase clicks and conversions.

Each time you create ad extensions for a campaign, they will appear on every ad within that campaign. For example, if a campaign has two ad groups with three and four ads, respectively, the extension will appear in all seven ads.

There are several ad extension types, including:

  • Call Extension — adds your phone number to the ad
  • Callout Extension — allows you to add several lines of text after your ad description
  • Location Extension — adds a clickable link to an address in your ad that links to a map
  • Sitelink Extension — includes additional links to your law firm's website in your ad
  • Promotion Extension — adds a special promotion to your ad 
  • Message Extension — provides a link for prospective clients to text your business 

Additionally, location extension will include your business hours if you have that information in your Google My Business profile. You can use the preview link to see exactly how your extensions will look. It's best to use extensions in a manner that makes it easier for clients to engage with your firm but doesn't distract them.

Google Ads for Lawyers: Cost vs. Worth

The cost of any PPC campaign will vary based on several different factors. These include how successful your keyword bidding is and your commercial intent.

There are some keywords that are exceptionally expensive. These can cost more than fifty dollars per click and are generally head keywords. They are in high demand and exceptionally popular among users. While long-tail keywords are not as expensive, they can still be pricey.

However, it is possible to use PPC to get exceptional value out of search ads. There are millions of searches executed on Google. That means plenty of potential leads and clients for law firms that invest in PPC.

To make this happen for your law firm, you have to master keywords and other elements of Google Ads. To ensure campaigns are effective and extract the most return on investment possible, many law firms work with a high-performance marketing agency for lawyers like Grow Law Firm.

FAQs

  • Are Google Ads Really Effective for Attorneys?

    Any business can benefit from using Google PPC ads — including law firms. However, because law-related keywords tend to be expensive and legal advertising competitive, many law firms struggle to find value in their campaigns.

    That's why many successful law firms choose to work with marketing agencies to execute their campaigns. With the right digital marketing partner, you can craft compelling content to drive traffic in specific parts of your business, whether you want to target personal injury clients, medical malpractice cases, or referrals from other law firms.

  • When Will You Notice the Results from Your Law Firm Google Ads Campaign?

    This is a difficult question to answer, as the speed of your campaign depends on how your ads are set up, your copy, and your practice area. In an ideal situation, you may see good results in days or weeks. However, there are campaigns that never gain traction at all.

    Realistically, you should plan on three months for your campaign to start to take effect. Within six to twelve months, you should have a strong campaign that is performing very well.

    Additionally, remember that it takes time to collect campaign data and further optimize your ads. The ideal optimization data will come directly from your own campaign, so it only becomes available after you have rolled out your first ads. Once you have that data, you can improve your targeting and keywords.

  • Can You Manage Your Google Ads Campaign on Your Own?

    It is possible but unlikely to be a success. These campaigns take specific knowledge that is directly related to digital marketing. Most attorneys do not have the skill set required to do this or the time to dedicate.

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    Sasha Berson is a legal marketing expert

    Sasha serves as Managing Partner for Grow Law Firm, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency focused solely on specialized growth strategies for attorneys and their practices.

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