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Does AdWords work for Lawyers & Law Firms?

Does AdWords work for Lawyers & Law Firms?

By Fraser Baker

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade you’ve probably heard of Google AdWords and you might even have a good idea of how it works. It seems like everyone, especially lawyers, is running some kind of campaign on the platform. But, does AdWords work for lawyers?

Unfortunately, like all things in the digital marketing space, everyone has some idea on how to use these advertising channels. Google and Facebook have done such a great job of making their ad platforms so easy to use that anyone can do it.

And therein lies the problem.

More people using the platform means more bidding for a click, which means it becomes exponentially more expensive to run a campaign.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard clients and my colleagues tell me that AdWords is a waste of money and is too expensive.

“AdWords can only be won by the firms with the biggest wallets”, they cry out. But is this really any different from more traditional marketing tactics like television or radio?

The big difference with AdWords is that you don’t need to commit to a long-running campaign, you can just sign in setup up a campaign with whatever budget you want and away you go, then you can pause or stop it whenever you like.

Why is AdWords considered to be so expensive?

I’m convinced that the reason that some people think AdWords is expensive is that they get it up and running with little thought and time. Then it doesn’t work, or they don’t get the results they dreamed of and write it off as being an expensive waste of time.

Like a lot of the digital world these days, people are less willing to pay to have things done properly because they can do it themselves, think websites, social media, logos etc.

AdWords is no different, just because you can do it yourself, that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to get the best results. It takes research, testing, analysis and adaption to get rewards from an AdWords campaign, and these things are something the average joe doesn’t have the time to invest into or the knowledge or ability to do without significant learning. That’s why there are whole advertising agencies dedicated to this one platform.

How you can get better results with Google AdWords for law firms.

Yes, advertising on AdWords can get expensive, especially if you’re just pumping money into it without a deeper understanding on how it works. But, did you know that it is entirely possible to improve the performance of your campaigns and even pay less per click than your competitors?

Here are three tips to getting better results from your AdWords campaign.

1. Do your research…

To run a successful AdWords campaign, you need to know what keywords people are typing into search and what your competition is doing.

Keyword research

You need to know that the keywords you’re wanting to target are getting decent traffic. You can take for granted that short-tail and ready to buy keywords will have more search traffic and will most likely be more competitive. For the legal industry, short-tail keywords are typically 1-3 words long and normally include a location in the query, some examples of short-tail keywords are:

  • Lawyer [Location]
  • Family Lawyer [Location]
  • Injury Lawyer [Location]
  • Criminal Lawyer [Location]

Alternatively, long-tail keywords will have less search traffic but will generally be less competitive.  Long-tail keywords make up for about 70% of search traffic, but each keyword only gets a small amount of traffic itself, there are just so many of them.

AdWords for law firms - does adwords work for lawyers

Long-tail keywords are often more specific (the searches are looking for specific information, services or products), some examples of long-tail keywords are:

  • lawyers [location] free consultation
  • family law solicitor costs in [location]
  • motor vehicle accident compensation lawyers [location]
  • drug possession defence lawyer [location]

The point of this research is to create a list of keywords with the traffic and competitiveness for each keyword documented. You’ll want your list to comprise of a variety of short and long tail keywords.

The next thing you should do is to cross-reference the keywords to find keywords that have matching phrases in them. For example, ‘family lawyers’ and ‘specialist family lawyers in Sydney’ have the same phrase in them. I’ll tell you why this is important later…

Competitor research

Ok, so now that you have an idea of what keywords you’ll be targeting with your campaign you can start looking into what your competition is doing.

The best way to do this is to use Google to search some of your keywords and look at the ads that come up. You’ll want to look at the first ads that appear, as these are generally the top performing ads. However, for more competitive keywords you will want to assess all ads to get a holistic view of your competition. You can also use online service like SEMRush to analyse ads for given keywords, but in my experience, these platforms don’t give great results for Australian searches.

You’ll want to pay attention to the following aspects of the ads:

  • The copy used in the heading
  • Use of the keyword in the URL
  • The copy used in the description
  • Are callout extensions used, what do they say?
  • Are site link extensions used, where do they link to?
  • Is the call extension used?
  • Are they using a dedicated landing page or are they sending visitors to their website homepage?

Google Adwords for Lawyers - Does AdWords work for law firms?

Use an excel spreadsheet to document your research so that you can see any trends and to get a better understanding of what is working for you competition. You’ll be able to use this information to craft your own ads.

2. Build a landing page…

The goal of your AdWords campaign is to get users to either fill in a contact form or to pick up the phone and call your firm. Landing pages are perfect for this because they can be designed with this sole goal in mind. However, you’ll notice that some of your competitors will link directly to their website homepage or subpage on their site.

Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t use your law firm’s homepage for an AdWords campaign.

  1. Your homepage serves as launching pad to other pages throughout the site about what your firm does. Unless your homepage is ultra-specific you may be confusing the visitor and are asking them to take extra unnecessary actions.
  2. Your homepage will not be conversion focused. You wouldn’t want your homepage to be too salesy anyway. Its main goal is to tell visitors more about your firm and to funnel them through to more information on subpages.
  3. Your homepage won’t have enough relevant information for what the user is looking for without them needing to navigate away from the page to do more research.

A landing page is perfect for capturing a user and converting them into a lead. In fact, using a landing page instead of your homepage can dramatically increase the number of conversions from your campaign.

Here’s 4 reason a landing page is a better option for an AdWords campaign:

  1. They can be highly specific and speak directly about what the user is searching for. If the user is searching for a motor vehicle accident lawyer, then the landing page will need to have useful content dedicated to this search. This could include:
    • Information about making a claim
    • Information about what a lawyer can do for them in this circumstance
    • Information on service offerings (i.e. No Win No Fee)
    • Etc.
  2. They can be more conversion-focused and strong with messaging to get users to convert at the page.
  3. Landing pages are stickier as they provide the user with little or no links to move away from the page, they must leave the page completely or perform a pre-defined action that captures them as a lead.
  4. You can experiment with different words, designs, forms to find the best performing combination. By comparison, your homepage is relatively static and is something you wouldn’t want to mess around with too much.

3. Setup your AdWords campaign manually

When you first go set up your AdWords campaign you will be guided through the process. When it gets to the point of setting up the ad groups it will ask you start putting in keywords and it will prompt you to put in lots of different keywords; this is where the research you did earlier comes in handy.

Instead of creating one ad group with lots and lots of different keywords in it, we suggest that you create an individual ad group for each keyword… You probably think this will take forever and will become messy, but that’s not the case at all.

Earlier I told you to cross-reference all your keywords so that you know what common phrases are used across your list of keywords. Instead of creating an individual ad group for each of the keywords in our list, we’ll create an ad group for each of the common phrases in our list. By using Google AdWords keywords match types, you can expand the amount of searches your ad appears in. The different types of matches that Google offers include:

  • Broad Match = car accident lawyer – Ads may show on searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations.
  • Modified Broad Match = car +accident +lawyer – Ads show on searches that include each of the words in the phrase that are prefixed with a ‘+’.
  • Phrase Match = “car accident lawyer” – Ads show on searches that include the phrase.
  • Exact Match = [car accident lawyer] – Ads show only on searches for that specific search.

This how an ad group could look like with this strategy.

Ad Group Name:

Car Accident Lawyer


[Car Accident Lawyer]

+Car +Accident +Lawyer

“Car Accident Lawyer”

Repeat this for each of the different common phrases you found in your research.

Relevant Ads equals better results and cheaper cost per clicks

Earlier I mentioned that you can get better results from AdWords, without spending more or paying more for a click. To achieve this, you need to get your ads to be as relevant as possible to the user who is searching. You see, the higher the quality score of your ads, the better they will perform (more clicks at a cheaper rate).

Google determines this quality score based on three factors:

  • Ad Relevance – how relevant is your ad to the keyword the person is searching.
  • Expected Click Through Rate – is your ad compelling enough to make people click on it
  • Landing page experience – are people finding the information they require from your landing page

Google will give your ads a score out of 10, with 1 being the lowest. The higher the score you can achieve the better the results you will generally see. So, it’s in your best interest to make your ads as relevant as possible.

This is where the single phrase ad groups come in. For each ad group you will need to at least 1 ad, this allows you to implement highly relevant ads for each of the groups. And if you so wish you can also use different landing pages for different groups to ensure the relevance flows through.

Summary – Does AdWords work for lawyers?

Yes, AdWords can be expensive, but so can every other advertising medium and just because you can set up a campaign yourself it doesn’t mean that you will get decent results.

The tips I’ve outlined in this article will get you better results from your law firms AdWords campaigns. Whether or not you can put these tips into action is totally dependent the amount of time and effort you’re happy to invest in the exercise.

If you’d like help putting together your campaign or if you would like us to review your current campaigns, then feel free to get in touch with us via the contact us page.

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