The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Cirlce of Legal Trust.
Google AdWords is a great way to get your law firm fast and prominent exposure in Google search results. Unfortunately, poorly optimized campaigns are common and they’ll burn through cash very quickly with either little or no return on investment. In other words, AdWords works great, but it needs to be configured properly. Check out our 6 tips for optimizing your law firm AdWords search campaign.
Tip #1 – Segment Your Campaigns
One of the most basic things that lawyers can do to ensure their ads perform well on the search network is to appropriately segment their campaigns and associated keywords. On the search network, Google serves ads based on the keywords that people use. That means that the ads lawyers have associated with their keywords will be shown when the corresponding keyword (or its variation) is used in a search on Google.
Ads, ad groups and the keywords that go with them should be very relevant to one another. For example, you do not want to have family law related keywords (“family law attorney”) associated with an ad group that contains keywords and ad language directly targeting divorce.
Lawyers should create ads that are triggered for what the target audience is searching for. To do that, topic areas need to be configured in different ad groups with their own set of keywords. Otherwise, ads will be served for keyword searches that they are not related to, meaning the click through rate will suffer and searchers will not click on an ad because they are not relevant, consequently leading to Google reducing the Quality Score of the campaign (causing an ad to be displayed less frequently). All of this is detrimental to ad conversions and return on investment.
Tip #2 – Split Test Your Ads
Google constantly analyzes ads to determine if users find them useful. A huge influence on this is CTR or click through rate. Even the best marketers and advertisers don’t get an ad right the first time and tweaking is often necessary. Split testing your ads is an easy way to determine which ad is performing the best.
For example, you can experiment with different headlines, call to actions, tag-lines, etc. Split testing will help improve your CTR, which may have a positive benefit on the Quality Score for the campaign.
Tip #3 – Optimizing Bids for Positioning
Each time someone performs a search on Google, an auction is started to determine advertising positions. All else being equal, the advertiser with the highest bid wins the ad auction. Some keywords naturally have higher demand than others and suggested bids in AdWords are not always accurate.
For instance, Google may recommend that an advertiser pays $25 per click for a particular keyword phrase. After a campaign has been running for a while, lawyers may find that they need to increase the bid in order to obtain a top three ranking position. The top three positions typically have a much higher CTR than those found in the sidebar.
Demand and competition for keywords can also change. Campaigns that run over the course of months will have bid amounts fluctuate due to new competitors entering the auction or leaving the auction, as well as the bids they themselves make. It’s necessary to keep an eye on keyword specific average positions to make sure you are bidding the right amount to get the placement you need to generate clicks.
Tip #4 – Landing Page Optimization
Even though your landing page may have minimal influence on your Quality Score, it plays a crucial role in how your account performs. Lawyers should make sure the following conditions on their landing page are met so that their campaigns perform well.
- Make sure content on the landing page is relevant to the ad and keywords
- Make sure the page is easy to navigate and use
- Provide relevant and useful content
- Add social proof components (testimonials, badges, case results, etc.) to improve conversions
- Make sure that the page loads quickly
Wordstream has an excellent article on optimizing a landing page for AdWords.
Tip #5 – Leverage Ad Extensions
Ad extensions are additional features lawyers can add to their campaigns to improve visibility and performance. For example, by adding a phone number using the Call extension, people can perform mobile clicks to call (extremely convenient) and they can also contact you without having to visit your site. In my experience, the other most important ad extensions are: Sitelinks extension and Call Out extension.
Tip #6 – Add Negative Keywords
Negative keywords are terms that you do not want to trigger your ads. By adding negative keywords, lawyers can prevent their ad from showing up in searches where the user will not find the ad relevant. Some common negative keywords that attorneys will want to exclude from their campaigns might be pricing-related terms, such as “pro”, “pro bono” or simply “free”.
Not triggering your ads for attorney related directories, your competitors, unrelated practice areas and locations you do not want to target may also be candidates for negative keywords. Make sure to check your search query report frequently to see specific queries that consumers are using to find your ad. If you see queries that will not generate additional business, then eliminate them by adding them to your negative keyword list.
Keyword targeting is perhaps one of the most important elements of paid advertising to get right. Adding words that are not relevant produce unwanted clicks and with attorney-specific PPC clicks going for sometimes over 100 dollars, you cannot afford to make mistakes choosing the wrong phrases.
AdWords is a powerful advertising platform that can get attorneys a lot of exposure quickly. However, if an account is not managed properly, it can end up costing a fortune to run.
To make your campaign run as smoothly as possible, make sure that it is segmented well, split test your ads, optimize your bids to ensure you are getting the best positions, make sure your landing page is in order and make use of ad extensions and negative keywords. When your campaign is well optimized, you can ensure that you are spending the least amount of money and getting a maximum return on your investment.
It is also important to point out the role of paid advertising in the legal vertical and how cost prohibitive it can be for smaller firms. Search engine optimization continues to be a very viable (and often a better) alternative to paid ads on Google or other platforms.
Where benefits from ads are lost as soon as you shut off the flow of money, dividends from SEO can be realized much further into the future.
Chris Dreyer is the CEO and founder of Rankings.io, an Internet marketing agency with an emphasis on law firms. Learn more about them at rankings.io.
Posts by Chris Dreyer
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