Law Firm Marketing 101: Google Ads for Lawyers

Moving forward with our law firm marketing 101 series, we’re going to talk about Google Ads for lawyers.

Whether you are a new law firm or more experienced practice, Google Ads can be a great channel to get new business.

If you’re not sure how to use Google Ads, it’s important to get educated before spending the money (or the time) to set up a campaign.

In this post, we’re going to explain the basics of Google Ads for lawyers. Even if you plan on hiring someone to help you with online marketing, it’s important that you have a good understanding of the basics so that you can help plan the campaign and understand whether it’s working.

Google Ads Involves a Concept Known as “Pay Per Click” (PPC)

You’ve searched in Google a few times before. Right?

You’ve also probably noticed the ads that show up at the top of the search results. Those are known as “pay per click” (PPC) ads.

While PPC can be an effective part of a law firm marketing plan, it can also be expensive. A PPC ad means that you’ll pay for every click that your ad receives.

Determining how much you pay comes down to Google Ads’ auction system. In Google Ads, you list list the maximum amount you’re willing to spend to have someone click on your ad. If your ad is shown and someone clicks on it, you’ll pay a certain amount for that click.

We can get into the really technical aspects of Google Ads for lawyers if you are interested, but that’s the gist of it.

It’s important to really think about your PPC budget as well as your keywords (we’ll talk about keywords next) because certain keywords cost more than others…and just because your ad gets clicked doesn’t necessarily mean that the person visiting your site is a qualified lead, that they’ll reach out to your law firm, or that they won’t bounce away within 30 seconds. Google Ads is just one part of a comprehensive law firm marketing strategy.

Aside from the right keywords, you also need compelling, relevant ad copy, and well-designed, relevant landing pages.

Google Ad Keywords and You

We’ve got some good news for you and some bad news for you about Google Ad keywords.

Let’s get the bad news over with first. The bad news is that some keywords have a lot of competition which means that they’re very expensive.

Lawyer-related keywords are some of the most expensive out there. That being said, they are expensive because lawyers recognize that a new case can be worth a lot of money.

The good news is that Google Ads can help you get in front of people who have an urgent need for a lawyer. When someone searches in Google for “divorce lawyer near me,” that searcher is looking to hire a lawyer right away.

The Different Types of Keywords Used in Google Ads

Keywords are the specific terms you bid on to have your ad show up for in Google searches.

For example, the term divorce lawyer could be a keyword, but so could “divorce lawyer” or [divorce lawyer] – we will go through the notations in a bit. Each of these means different things in Google Ads. So, let’s break that all down.

Google Ads uses the following types of keywords:

Broad Match.

Let’s start with the broadest and work our way down. A broad match keyword casts a very wide net. A broad match targets not only the keyword you have put in, but anything Google deems to be relevant to that term – and there is a lot of leeway there.

So, if you’re using the keyword family law attorney, someone searching for divorce lawyer, or even another attorney by name (e.g. “John Smith attorney” where John Smith is known to be a divorce lawyer), they may still see your ad. That’s right – you can advertise for the keyword divorce lawyer and have your ad show up in searches for another lawyer’s name.

We generally do not recommend broad match keywords. They cast a wide net and tend to be cheaper clicks, but they are very imprecise and show up for a lot of irrelevant terms.

You can create a broad match term by having 0 notation around your keyword. E.g. divorce lawyer.

Broad Match Modifier.

A broad match modifier can help you get better targeted results. With a broad modifier, you should only show up in Google where searchers use all of the words you have included (or very close variants).

An example of what a broad match modifier keyword would be is: +divorce +lawyer.

With this keyword, your firm could conceivably show up in searches for Colorado divorce lawyer, lawyer for divorce in New York, and possibly also divorce attorney.

With a broad modifier, unlike broad match, your ad will not show up in searches that do not have some of your keywords. So, if you had +Texas +divorce +lawyer, you should not be showing up in searches that do not include Texas as a search term.

Phrase Match.

A phrase match keyword is one where you show up for all the terms you’ve chosen, in their order. For example, if your term is “divorce lawyer”, you could show up for terms like Houston divorce lawyer or local divorce lawyer but not for lawyer for divorce, because we need that phrase “divorce lawyer” to be intact in the search.

You create a phrase match keyword by adding quotation marks around the term you want. So, “divorce lawyer” would be an example of a phrase match keyword.

Phrase match terms are much more precise than either broad match or broad modified, but keep in mind that they will also yield fewer searches because of that.

Exact Match.

Exact match is exactly that – precisely the keyword you are choosing and nothing outside of that. No variants or anything. People are Googling for your exact keyword. Your ad would appear when someone’s search is an exact match for your chosen keyword.

To create an exact match keyword, you add brackets around your term. So, [divorce lawyer] would be an example. If you had this term, your ad would only show up for terms that are exactly divorce lawyer and nothing else. No showing up for Texas divorce lawyer or lawyer for divorce – only for divorce lawyer and what Google deems to be “close variants” (i.e. substituting “lawyer” for “attorney”).

Negative Keywords.

Google Ads gives you a lot of data. And after awhile, you might see that you are showing up in searches for terms you don’t want. For example, you might not want to be showing up for “affordable lawyer” or “pro bono lawyer”.

So, you can add a negative keyword so you specifically do not show up in searches that contain those keywords.

A negative keyword helps you control when your ad won’t show up. You could take advantage of this by listing out the areas of law that your law firm doesn’t practice. While there is still no guarantee that every click your ad receives will result in a qualified prospective client, it can cut down on the number of clicks that you pay for from unrelated searches.

Our recommendations for negative keywords should include:

  • Free
  • Cheap
  • Pro-bono
  • States you don’t practice in
  • Surrounding cities that you don’t accept clients

Though you can geographically target visitors in certain regions, it’s always good to add negative keywords for other states and cities, to keep those searches out.

Take the Time to Create Eye Catching Google Ads

Writing ad copy that draw people to your site is an art.

In addition to the technical information we just discussed (which is really just the tip of the iceberg), you must take the time to think about and write what people actually want to read.

Use a good headline and make sure that you use your chosen keywords in it as well as the body as the ad. This is important because Google will assess whether you have a quality ad.

Coming up with good ads takes time. It is a long-term process. You will find that some ideas resonate better with audiences than others. “Free Consultation” in your headline may not be as effective as “Get Your Free Case Evaluation” or “10 Years Experience” or “Former Prosecutor Working For You.”

You Don’t Have to Write Your Own Google Ads

We know that law firm marketing can be both time consuming and frustrating for lawyers. You don’t have to write your own Google Ads. Partnering with an experienced law firm marketing agency can help you get a better targeted, more affordable Google Ads campaign that may even produce more quality prospective clients than writing your own copy. Do your research before choosing an agency. If you’d like to learn more about Google Ads and get help with your law firm marketing, we’d love to talk with you.

About the Author: Robin Bull
Robin Bull holds a BS in Paralegal Studies. She graduated from Kaplan University in 2008, Summa Cum Laude. Robin is the former Program Director of Paralegal Studies for Vatterott College in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She has more than 15 total years of experience in bankruptcy, family law, personal injury law, and real estate law. Robin is a full time legal writer, editor, and social media manager. She resides in Oklahoma City with her husband, Danny, three dogs, and one cat.

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