The following article appeared in the most recent issue of Attorney at Law Magazine:
Adwords or pay-per-click advertising (PPC) for law firms can really pay off for lead generation, but only if you know what you’re doing. Eighty percent of the most expensive Google PPC keywords are related to the legal profession, so you want to be sure you are putting your money into PPC efforts that can yield the best results.
Here are the top eight tips that will enable you to create PPC Adwords campaigns for your law firm that will deliver more clicks that convert at a lower cost, bolstering your ROI:
- Create a unique landing page for your Google ad.
You can’t send your PPC traffic to your website and get results; you need to create a unique landing page for every Google ad you run, with content that delivers on the promise you made in the ad. Each unique landing page should mirror the keyword(s) from the ad that was clicked and offer enough information for the potential new client to conclude that your firm is “the one.” Caveat: the click-to-call mobile ads that we’ll discuss in tip number eight do not require landing pages.
Consider including video on your landing pages to increase the trust factor. Shoot a video of yourself (yes, you can use your phone) explaining what their first visit to your office will entail or talk about what your firm does, focusing on what differentiates you from other firms. Testimonials from former clients, video or written, add credibility and are recommended.
In addition, you need to name your landing page URL properly. Having a landing page URL that reinforces your ad promise and keywords will help your ad’s quality score (we’ll get to quality score in tip #2. Use a concise phrase in your landing page URL like “www.yourURL.com/Free-Consultation,” instead of something generic like “/landing.”
- What is a quality score and why you should care?
Your ads’ quality scores are a big deal. They are the shiny trophy on your mantle in Google’s eyes. You want to have the highest possible quality scores because high scores will lower your Adwords cost per click and cost per conversion, give your ads better positioning on search engine results pages (SERP) which means more potential for conversion of new clients, plus it gives you the satisfaction of knowing you’re managing Adwords the right way.
For reference, quality scores range from one to 10. Four is the lowest score you should accept and always strive for better. The higher the score, the more signed clients for you at the lowest cost.
To determine your ad’s quality score, Google uses an algorithm that weighs many factors such as:
- Landing page relevance and quality.
- Each keyword’s relevance to its ad group (An ad group contains several ads written for a specific topic; several ad groups comprise an ad words campaign. The campaign hierarchy works like this: Your campaign is titled Personal Injury. Within this campaign you have three ad groups: Car Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Wrongful Death. The number of practice areas you have typically determine the number of campaigns you’ll need. You can have as many ad groups, campaigns and keywords as you need).
- The relevance of your ad copy (features, benefits, call to action).
- Your click through rate (CTR).
- Why CTR is important.
Click through rate is determined by the total number of clicks on your ad divided by total impressions during a selected time frame. The higher the CTR, the higher your quality score and the lower your cost becomes. CTR has the highest weight in determining your quality score.
What is your law firm’s ideal CTR? Due to the strong competition within the legal profession, it holds one the lowest CTR across all Adwords categories. That said, don’t compare your CTR with your brother-in-law’s e-commerce store, as it is known to have the highest CTR of all industries. In other words, set the benchmark for your law firm’s CTR to 1.35 percent. If you exceed it, celebrate. If you fall below it consistently, you need to keep fine-tuning and testing your ads, keywords and landing pages to create the iterations that score well.
- Use the right keywords in your ads.
An easy way to think of keywords is to imagine what potential new clients might type into Google search to find the services you offer. Make a list and see what you come up with, then compare them with what you find in one or more free top-rated keyword finder tools:
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner (you already have this!).
- WordStream Free Keyword Tool.
- MOZ’s Keyword Explorer.
A keyword is one word such as “lawyer;” a keyword phrase is usually several words like “experienced trial lawyer,” but you’ll hear them used interchangeably, so don’t get them confused. A longtail keyword is when someone searches for a “top child custody lawyer who can help me keep my kids.”
What about negative keywords? Use them, as they will save you money from unwanted clicks. For example, you’re a bankruptcy attorney but you keep getting people clicking on your ads (and you pay for that) who need help with a traffic ticket or a lease dispute. Simply add “Lease, landlord, tenant, rental” to your negative keywords list and next time someone searches for a tenant dispute lawyer in your area, your ad will not be shown. Just remember, positive keywords invite them in; negative ones keep them out. In your Adwords dashboard, use the Search Terms Report to see the search queries people typed into Google to trigger your ads. You’ll find lots of negative and positive keywords there.
Your main keyword or key phrase needs to be incorporated in your ads along with a relevant benefit and call-to-action. Don’t be afraid to experiment to discover what speaks loudest to your target market.
- Narrow your focus with keyword match types.
Keyword match types are parameters used to control your keywords to trigger ads. The four different types of Adwords keywords match types are: Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match and Exact Match. You may want to think of each keyword match type as a fishing net. For example, if you had a broad match keyword phrase of “divorce and custody attorney consultations,” your ad will trigger any searches for divorce, custody, consultations, attorney and any possible variation of those words including misspellings, synonyms and relevant variations. You could end up paying for clicks for someone looking for “cheap divorce lawyer” “men’s divorce lawyer,” etc. Broad Match is Adwords’ default setting, so be careful there. The legal profession has little or no reason to ever use broad match.
But there is a relatively new Broad Match Modifier — lovingly called “Broad Mod” by users — that allows you to append a “+” to a specific word in your keyword phrase that you want to use. For example, if you are using “divorce attorney,” add “+” in front of divorce to ensure only “divorce attorney” will trigger your ad, instead of every type of attorney that a Broad Match would trigger. Broad Mod is an Adwords user’s favorite because of its power and flexibility.
Phrase Match is a favorite among Adwords users and it works best when using a two-word keyword phrase. Let’s use the Phrase Match “accident attorney.” Your ad will be triggered for any type of accident attorney, such as an auto accident lawyer, a car accident attorney, a bicycle accident attorney, etc.
Exact Match is just that. It’s the most restrictive match type that you’ll probably use as rarely as you use Broad Match, but for the opposite reason. Exact Match’s fishing net is tiny and garners few results.
- Prioritize calls over clicks. No landing page needed.
More Google searches are performed on mobile phones than any other device, so you should consider focusing on call-only paid mobile advertising campaigns. Google launched its new call-only campaign earlier this year. Instead of a headline, your ad will feature your phone number that connects a searcher to your intake team. Just be sure you have the capability to have your phones answered 24/7 before opting for call-only campaigns. These campaigns can work great for personal injury firms where someone who’s just been in an accident or is lying in a hospital bed can reach out quickly.
- Use ad extensions and sitelinks.
Ad extensions are a set of features, or “snippets,” that increase the size, or footprint, of your Google ad as they allow you to offer more compelling information that you couldn’t fit into the limited character count of your ad. Ad extensions make your ad stand out, improve your quality score and your click through rate.
An ad extension can include location, phone, reviews, sitelinks, callouts and many more information bites that assist potential clients in making a buying decision. As you might imagine, Google has an algorithm that determines which ad extension(s) or sitelinks take precedence.
Google also offers a click-to-text messaging extension where potential clients can text you their questions. Again, be certain you have someone on-call to answer incoming text messages. Personal injury clients and their families who need immediate help use this service most often. Engagement via text messaging increases when you use this Google service.
- Invest in display ads and retargeting
One of the keys to standing out among your competition is to invest in remarketing via ads on Google’s Display Network. Display ads are banners that you see on other sites across the Internet. Have you ever wondered how a website you visited keeps following you around when you’re on other sites? This is remarketing and you don’t need a big budget to do it. Most prospects visit more than one website when researching attorneys, and remarketing gives you a great opportunity to stay top of mind when prospects are doing their homework.
Google isn’t the only game in town in terms of a self-service retargeting tool, but it may be your easiest bet. With a small retargeting budget, it doesn’t make financial sense to hire a retargeting agency, so the self-service tools such as AdRoll, ReTargeter, Facebook, Perfect Audience and ExactDrive are smart alternatives.