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

21 min


Apr 4, 2024
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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.

With over 8.5 billion searches conducted on Google every day, advertising on the platform is an effective way to reach potential clients who are actively searching for legal services and lead them to your website. Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is the best advertising platform for businesses looking to target specific audiences, display ads based on keywords, and ultimately bring in new clients. 

In this full guide, we'll cover everything you need to know to get started with advertising on Google, including: 

  • What Google Ads are
  • Google Ads management for lawyers with 5 researched tips to skyrocket your campaign
  • How Google Ads work for lawyers in terms of cost and worth

What Is Google Ads for Lawyers?

Google Ads for lawyers allows law firms and individual lawyers to promote their services on Google's search engine and other websites within the Google Ads network. Google Ads for attorneys uses a PPC advertising model. In this form of online advertising, your law firm pays a small fee each time someone clicks on one of your ads. Google Ads allows you to essentially purchase traffic.

Google Ads for lawyers enables the promotion of legal services on Google's search engine

One of the key features of law firm Google Ads is keyword targeting. You can target specific keywords that are relevant to your law firm or legal services. Google Ads for attorneys also allows you to create compelling ads that are designed to capture the attention of potential clients. You can create text, image, and video ads that include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that encourages users to click through to your website or contact your law firm.

Google Ads Management for Lawyers: 12 Tips to Skyrocket Your Campaigns

1. Start With Keyword Research

Research keywords before proceeding with your ad campaign

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 bid, competition, and search value. 

Google Ads Keyword Planner is a free tool that helps in keyword research for Google Ads campaigns

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”?

There are various tools you can use to research keywords including Ahrefs, Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and Moz Keyword Explorer. 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. As for Ahrefs, once you search the word or phrase, it provides you with a range of data points, including search volume, keyword difficulty, and more. Use the keyword difficulty score to identify keywords that are within your reach to rank for, and use the search volume data to prioritize keywords with higher search volumes.

Pro Tip 1: Focus on Longtail Keywords

Generate higher-quality leads by targeting the user's search intent with long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are the best way to generate higher-quality leads in Google Ads. There is competition over simple keywords, and only the firms with the largest Google Ads budget are able to compete for them. Instead, focus on keywords that specifically target the user's search intent. For example, a simple term like "attorney" can be built on to create several long-tail keywords that are more likely to match the search phrases your potential clients use. So, “Attorney” becomes “immigration attorney free consultation.”

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. There are several keyword match types for search ads: 

keyword match types for lawyers
Using different keyword types can help reach a more diverse audience and improve campaign targeting

Broad match, which triggers your ads 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, which displays ads 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. 

Exact match, which is the most specific keyword grouping. Here, ads are only triggered by the exact search term or a very close variation. 

Negative matches, which 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 can include words like “traffic," “DUI," “speeding," and other such terms as negative keywords. Then, anyone using these terms won't see your ads.

2. Incorporate Your Keywords into Your Law Firm Google Ad Campaign

Optimize your web page and Google PPC ad copy with targeted keywords for improved organic search results

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

Optimize Google services ads for lawyers to appear in local search results pages

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

Since lawyers and law firms tend to serve a specific area, you need to start with location-based targeting to target prospective clients searching for services in your location. This is mainly because lawyers licensed in one state can only practice in that state. For example, a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles should only target people who are searching for legal services in the Los Angeles area and potentially a little further out. 

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.

The other type—demographic targeting—ensures that ads are displayed to users who are most relevant. You can target based on age, income level, marital status, and more. So, a law firm that specializes in family law, needs to target people within a certain age range who are married and have children.

Pro Tip 5: Incorporate dynamic Keyword insertion

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is a feature in Google Ads that allows advertisers to automatically insert the keyword that triggered their ad into the ad copy. You can insert keywords into headlines, descriptions, and display URLs. Let’s say your target keyword is “car accident lawyer in New York,” your ad headline might say something like:

Need a Lawyer? Call John Doe, Car Accident Lawyer in New York.

This functionality allows you to combine keywords to create unique but targeted ad variations. It increases ad relevance to searchers and can improve click-through rates. 

Related Posts:

PPC for Lawyers: A Quick Start in Attorney Marketing

Facebook Ads for Personal Injury Lawyers

PPC for Immigration Lawyers: Your Complete Guide

3. Choose Your Bidding Options for Google Ads Campaigns Smartly

Your law firm's Google Ads campaign's success depends on the bid option you choose. There are several bidding options available, including Cost-per-click (CPC), Cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM), Cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and Target return on ad spend (ROAS).

CPC is the most common bidding option and allows you to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. CPM is based on the number of impressions (times the ad is shown), while CPA allows you to pay only when someone takes a specific action, such as filling out a contact form or making a phone call. Target ROAS is a bidding option that allows you to set a target return on your ad spend. This means that Google will automatically adjust your bidding to achieve the target ROAS.

The keyword bidding options you choose also depend on your goals and budget. It is important to find a balance when bidding to avoid overspending; this means not bidding too high or too low. To strike a balance, you can use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner to analyze which keywords will provide the most value based on a range of metrics, including high and low range top of the page bid, search volume, and competition level. 

4. Place Bids on Your Law Firm's Brand Unique Keywords

Your brand’s unique keywords are the words or phrases that are specific to your law firm, such as your firm's name or the names of your partners. Bidding on your own brand keywords can help you control your online reputation and increase your click-through rate so your ad appears at the top of the search results for searchers who will click on your ad and visit your website. It also helps defend against competitors since they may bid on them; you do not want that to happen. 

It's important to also consider the cost of bidding on your own brand keywords. Since these keywords are typically less competitive, they may have a lower cost-per-click than other keywords in your campaign. This means that you may be able to bid lower on them and still achieve a high ad position. Just set a reasonable bid. 

5. Optimize Your Law Firm Landing Page

Create a relevant custom landing page for each ad group to match the prospect's keyword searches and improve engagement

Landing page for lawyers are 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.

A landing page with a high conversion rate can be made 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

6. Decide Your Google Ad Campaign Goal

Select a goal to start building your Google Ads for law firms

You will start to build your Google Ads for law firms 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.

7. Choose Your Google Ad Campaign Type

Be aware that display network activation is the default setting, but can be turned off to optimize campaign performance

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.

8. Customize Google Ads Settings

The display network can be a great tool for advertising your law firm, particularly for remarketing efforts

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 budgets 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 to 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.

9. Determine the Beginning and End of Your Campaign

Without selection, your campaign will run indefinitely, with clicks on your ad resulting in automated payment

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.

10. Track Your Conversions from Google Ads Campaigns

Google Ads will guide you through the steps required to track website 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.

11. Build Your Attorney Ad

Ensure ad effectiveness on mobile and desktop platforms as you edit ad copy

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:

  • Headlines 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 re-enter 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.

12. Organize Ad Groups by Thematic Clusters

Thematic ad group organization facilitates easier campaign performance tracking

This strategy might sound like more work for your law firm- but it does go a long way. It involves grouping keywords and ads together based on the theme of your legal services. So, if your law firm specializes in personal injury cases, you could create an ad group for car accidents, another for slip and fall accidents, and so on.

This helps you create more targeted ad copy and landing pages that are specific to each type of case. This can improve the quality score of your ads, which can in turn reduce your cost per click and increase your ad ranking. Organizing your ad groups by thematic clusters also makes it easier to track the performance of your campaigns. You can see which ad groups are performing well and which ones need improvement.

Pro Tip 6: Employ Single Keyword Ad Groups for Top-Performing Keywords

Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) are a strategy in which you create an ad group for each individual keyword in your campaign. You must first determine your top-performing keywords using information from your ad campaign before implementing SKAGs for your legal firm's Google Ads. Next, divide each term into its own ad group and use it as a single keyword in the ad group. Make sure to include the keyword in both the headline and the body of the ad content, and then construct an ad copy that precisely fits the user's search query.

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

Using a negative keyword list can help prevent ads from appearing on irrelevant or unwanted search results pages

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

While Google Ads can be expensive, they offer a valuable opportunity for lawyers to reach potential clients who are actively searching for their services and can generate a high return on investment if executed properly. The decision of whether the cost is worth the investment largely depends on various factors, including the firm's budget, target audience, and marketing goals. 

For law firms looking to get the best out of their Google Ads, it's important to implement the tips discussed in this guide. They can also work with an experienced lawyer marketing agency that can help navigate the complexities of the platform and create effective ad campaigns that reach the right audience. At Grow Law Firm, we specialize in helping law firms achieve their marketing goals and increase their case flow through targeted Google Ads campaigns and other law firm SEO services.


  • Are Google Ads Really Effective for Attorneys?

    Yes, Google Ads can be very effective for attorneys. Google Ads are a cost-effective way for attorneys to reach potential clients. They allow them to target specific keywords and phrases related to their legal services, as well as geographic locations. However, they can be competitive and the cost per click can be high, so it's important to have a well-planned and executed campaign strategy.

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

    The timeline for seeing results from a law firm's Google Ads campaign can vary depending on the competitiveness of keywords, the quality of ads and landing pages, and the size of the advertising budget. The results could be immediate if your campaign is good and may take a long time if it was done poorly.

    It's important to have realistic expectations and a long-term approach to your Google Ads campaign. Additionally, it's important to continuously monitor and optimize your campaigns to ensure that you're getting the best possible results from your advertising spend.

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

    Yes, you can handle the campaign on your own but you need to put in the best practices. Managing a successful Google Ads campaign requires ongoing attention to detail, including keyword research, ad copywriting, landing page optimization, bid management, and performance monitoring. If you're not familiar with these aspects of Google Ads, it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to try to manage your campaign on your own. Therefore, it is also possible to work with a professional digital marketing agency like Grow Law Firm to save you time and effort while you focus on legal tasks.

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