In the legal field, the competition is fierce. So, how can you gain more visibility and generate a steady stream of new clients? Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) is one of the fastest, most targeted and least risky options to advertise your law firm — but only if you set up and manage your campaigns properly. By following the 10 steps below, you’ll gain an edge over your local competitors.

Google Ads Guide for Attorneys

But first, let’s talk about why you should be investing in Google Ads in the first place…

3 Smart Reasons to Advertise in Google

Reason #1. Attract Your Ideal Clients

When you advertise in Google, you’re getting in front of prospective clients who are already looking for the exact services what you offer…. all you have to do is give them what they’re asking for!

Reason #2. Fast Results

With Google Ads, you can set up a campaign and start getting clicks within hours of turning on your ads. We’ve set up several new campaigns for law practices who started receiving their first client inquiries that same day!

Reason #3. Low Risk

Most people believe you need to spend a fortune to advertise a law firm in Google, but that’s not true — you can get started on a small budget. With Google Ads, there’s no minimum spend required, and you only pay when prospects click on your ads.

Here are the 10 steps to creating a profitable Google Ads campaign that increases your visibility in the search engines, attracts qualified clients, and adds to your bottom line.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Step 1: Keyword Research

Creating a high-converting Google Ad legal campaign starts with knowing what potential clients need. Why are they in need of a lawyer? What specific services are you looking to advertise, and what terms do prospective clients use when searching for a lawyer related to those services?

Our first step should be to figure out the search volume around keywords related to these examples. The Google Ads Keyword Planner tool is a free resource you can use for that purpose. Enter phrases you think your potential clients would use to find a local attorney.

Here are some sample phrases an injury victim living in Boston might enter when looking for a personal injury lawyer:

  • Personal injury lawyer near me
  • Injury attorney near me
  • Personal injury lawyer Boston
  • Boston car accident attorney

The Google Ads Keyword Planner tool provides you with similar phrases to use in your ads. It also gives you some important information, such as:

  • How often potential clients use these keywords in their searches
  • The competitiveness of the keyword phrase in Google Ads
  • The estimated cost per click of using each keyword

Using the Keyword Planner

There are three key questions you should ask yourself when choosing phrases to incorporate into your campaign:

  1. How much search volume is there for the keyword in Google? A low search volume means few people are searching for that phrase; in most cases you’ll want to focus on a keyword that more potential clients are using in their search for an attorney.
  2. Is the person searching the phrase a potential client for my law practice? Make sure the keywords you select have hiring intent. Someone searching for “workers compensation settlement amounts” may only be doing research; someone searching for “workers compensation attorney” is more likely to be searching for an attorney to schedule an appointment with.
  3. Can my budget handle the cost of the keyword? Some competitive, high traffic keywords may exhaust your budget after only a few dozen clicks.

In this next section, we’ll talk more about how to determine your budget and which keywords to invest in.

Step 2: Basic Math Skills

To figure out how to distribute your advertising budget, you’ll need to apply some basic math skills. The goal here is to choose keywords that will drive clients to your law firm at a reasonable cost. We calculate the maximum cost per click (CPC) to find that sweet spot.

The Max CPC is calculated using your profit per client, your website conversion rate, and your target advertising profit margin. Here’s the formula:

Max CPC = (profit per client) x (1 – profit margin) x (website conversion rate)

The profit per client will likely vary by service so you’ll need to run these numbers for each of the services you’re going to advertise in Google Ads. If you’re not sure what your conversion rate is based on historical data, then we recommend using 1%.

Let’s plug in some real numbers to give you a better look at how the formula works. If you know your business generates about $2,400 per client for the service you want to advertise and you’re comfortable investing 65% into the cost of ads, then your Max CPC is $15.60.

Max CPC = $2,400 x (1 – 0.35) x 1% = $15.60

Based on this calculation, you know your Google Ads cost per click should be less than $15.60. Once you calculate your Max CPC, then you can compare the Max CPC for your law practice to the estimated cost per click for each keyword shown in the Keyword Planner. For example:

  • If you have a Max CPC of $16, and the estimated CPC for the keyword in the Keyword Planner tool is $12, you are likely to see a return on investment for that keyword.
  • If you have a Max CPC of $16, and the estimated CPC for the keyword in the Keyword Planner tool is $25, you should not use that keyword in your campaign because it will cost too much to generate a new client.

When the keyword CPCs shown in the Keyword Planner are much larger than your Max CPC, you will need to either increase the profit per client or boost your website’s conversion rate to make it worth your time and money to invest in that keyword.

Step 3: Competitor Intelligence

Now that you have a list of keywords to work with, we’re going to take a look at what other law firms are doing in their Google Ads legal marketing campaigns to help give you a leg up over the competition.

Because other law firms with active campaigns on Google Ads have already done their own testing and optimization, you can use that information to lower the risk of your advertising investment. Use insights into what works in their ads and keywords to refine and perfect your own ad campaign.

Is this unethical? Does it require paying off someone at Google to get the inside scoop? Nope! It’s public information that is readily available by using a 3rd party competitive intelligence tool.

Our Favorite Competitor Intelligence Tool

When we set up Google Ads campaigns for attorneys, we use SpyFu for collecting, organizing and analyzing historical data on competing ad campaigns. A limited amount of information is available on SpyFu for free, but we recommend creating an account so you can take a deep dive into what your competitors are doing. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Using SpyFu is simple. Copy and paste a competing law firm’s domain into the search bar, then select the PPC Research tab and PPC Keywords to see the keywords they are using in their advertising to drive clients to their website. Click on Ad History to see examples of their Google Ads campaigns.

How do you know if your competitor has had success with a particular keyword? Look at how long the law firm has been using it. The longer they advertise with a keyword, the more likely it is that this phrase has been successful in attracting new clients. Most savvy advertisers would abandon keywords that do not hit their target goals.

You have the option to read the keyword list right on the SpyFu site or to export the file to read through later. Remove any phrases that are irrelevant to your law practice or services and add the remaining items to your current keyword list.

Another useful feature in SpyFu is the Ads tab. In this section, you can read the copy competing law firms are using in their Google Ads. Take the time to read several of them–which are working well with the audience you want to target? Think about how you can improve upon what they are doing and offer something different (and better!) to set your practice apart from the competition.

Step 4: Create a Powerful USP

Your USP, or unique selling proposition, is what differentiates your practice from other attorneys. In a nutshell, it’s a compelling reason that potential clients should choose your law firm over all the others. A strong USP answers the questions clients might have about choosing a lawyer. Having a compelling USP matters in your campaigns because:

  1. Strong USPs generate more traffic from clients who are searching for your specific services. They also repel clicks from people who have no interest in your law practice.
  2. Strong USPs increase the number of people who will click over to your website and make an appointment.
  3. Strong USPs help potential clients see you as the best option for their legal needs.

Coming Up With a Solid USP

What do you do better than other law firms in your area? What have your clients told you about their experience working with you and the results they got from your legal services? One way to create a compelling USP is to use insights from past clients to craft your message.

When you are advertising legal services, look for openings neglected by competing practices. There may be dozens of personal injury attorneys in your area, but if you’re the only one who offers free consultations, this could be your USP.

Look at your competitors’ websites, print and digital advertising, and other marketing materials and see what they are offering their clients; think about how you can one-up them and offer something even better.

Step 5: Make Your Offer Irresistible

Now that you’ve determined your USP, it’s time to create an offer. You want potential clients to feel compelled to make an appointment during that first click to your website without leaving to think it over or look at what other attorneys are offering.

The most irresistible offers contain the following:

1. Value

You don’t have to offer deeply discounted services to give your clients value. Instead, your legal services should give clients added value over what your competitors are offering. Will you go to your client’s home if they can’t come to your office? Are you open outside of normal business hours to accommodate clients’ work schedules? Have you won awards or received recognitions that competing attorneys don’t have? These are all ways to show that your services have added value.

2. Believability

Make your offers realistic. If you guarantee that you will win the case, potential clients may greet your ad with skepticism. Don’t make your offer sound too good to be true and don’t put yourself in a bind by making promises you can’t keep.

3. Low Risk

Provide potential clients with reassurance that there is nothing to lose by reaching out to contact you. An offer of a free phone consultation is a good way to do this.

4. A Call to Action

Be direct and tell potential clients what they need to do to take advantage of your offer.

Now that the preliminary work is done, we’re ready to start working on your Google Ads campaign. The first five steps are the key to crafting high-conversion campaigns that can keep new clients coming in through the doors of your law practice; next comes the fun part!

Step 6: Design Compelling Ads

Google Ads are Pay Per Click (PPC), which means you only pay when a user clicks on your advertisement. With this in mind, your ads must serve three important functions:

  1. Attract clients who need your services and will pick your practice over a competitor.
  2. Repel people who are not likely to schedule an appointment.
  3. Boost your Google Ads Quality Score.

The Google Ads Quality Score is worth taking some time to explain. Google rewards advertisers who write effective ads by giving them a high Quality Score; this high score reduces their cost per click for ad placement. Conversely, Google penalizes advertisers that write poor ads by decreasing their Quality Score, meaning they need to pay more per click for the same ad placement.

Laying out Your Google Ads

Your Google Ad text contains 3 key components.

  1. Headline 1, Headline 2, Headline 3: Google provides 3 separate 30-character headlines for your ad copy. Include your target keywords so potential clients see that you’re offering exactly what they’re searching for. Try asking a question that elicits a positive response and a potential click.
  2. Description Line 1 and Description Line 2: These lines are where you will focus on the benefits of choosing your legal practice. Emphasize your offer and drive clicks to your site with a strong call to action. Each description line can be up to 90 characters long.
  3. Display Path 1 and Path 2: Google displays your domain, along with two 15-character paths, which gives you additional space to include your target keyword, a call to action, or anything else you think would be compelling to a prospective client.

Below are two example ads to help get you started. (Note: the specifics in the ads have been modified in order to be preserve client details.)

Ad Example #1
Voted Houston’s Top Lawyers (Headline 1)
Speak To An Injury Lawyer Now (Headline 2)
You Don’t Pay Unless We Win (Headline 3)
Call Now For Free Case Evaluation! (Description 1)
John B. Smith is an accredited member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. (Description 2)

Ad Example #2
#1 Dallas Dog Bite Lawyer (H1)
We Only Get Paid When You Do (H2)
Call John Smith Today (H3)
No one knows Texas dog bite laws like John B. Smith. (Description 1)
10+ years of dog bite experience. You can feel confident putting your case into our hands. (Description 2)

Ad Example #3
Free Case Evaluation (Headline 1)
Houston’s #1 Car Accident Atty (Headline 2)
Call John B. Smith Today (Headline 3)
Get the compensation you deserve with our world-class representation. (Description 1)
John is passionate about representing individuals injured in car and truck accidents. (Description 2)

Step 7: Build Congruent Landing Pages

Getting prospective clients to click on your ad is only the first part of driving conversions. You’ve perfected your Google Ads, but now it’s time to optimize your website.

Many law practices simply direct their Google Ads to the homepage of their website. Instead of creating a direct path from the ad to the service or offer being advertised, potential clients are left to their own devices–they have to poke around the site to find contact information, read about the services offered, etc. Every additional click a user has to make increases the chance that they will leave your site without having scheduled an appointment.

Remember: prospects who click on your ad are looking for a specific service or offer that you are advertising. Make it easy for them to get what they need.

Take the time to craft individual landing pages that are congruent with your ad message and that address relevant phrases in your ads. Streamline the process of attracting new clients by shortening their path to making an appointment to meet with you. Expand upon the offer and USP in the landing page copy and Include an attention-grabbing headline. Explain your credentials, make sure potential clients know you are trustworthy, and include a strong call to action to schedule an appointment.

Step 8: Track Your Conversions

Setting up conversion tracking is an important step in launching a Google Ads campaign. With conversion tracking, you’ll be able to determine which keywords and ads are bringing the most new clients to your practice and which keywords aren’t performing as well as you’d like.

Google Ads doesn’t just track clicks. Conversion tracking can tell you how many phone calls and how many appointments were generated from your ads. Google Ads also provides offline conversion tracking to allow you to match clients with the keyword and ad that helped them find your practice.

Go to Tools > Conversions and follow the instructions to set up all the necessary conversions for your campaign. For a Google Ads legal campaign, we recommend tracking phone calls and online appointments at a minimum.

Step 9: Configure Google Ads Settings

Google Ads’ intuitive layout makes creating campaigns a simple process. Click the New Campaign button, then follow the instructions to add keywords and create your text ads.

Warning: Be careful about Google’s default settings! Many of them must be edited before turning on your ads or you’ll risk wasting your ad budget.

We use the following configurations with our legal clients:

Search vs. Display

Select Search Network Only in order to target the Google Search Network. The Google Display Network requires different targeting and ads, so it’s best to create campaigns that target each network separately.

Device Bids

Your website should be optimized for mobile devices, but if it is not, don’t waste money paying for mobile or tablet ads. Set your device bids to -100% (that’s negative 100 percent) if you want to prevent your ads from displaying for mobile devices and/or tablets.

Keyword Match Types

Broad Match is the default setting for keywords in Google Ads, which means Google displays your ad to any keyword it deems relevant. This may generate more clicks, but those clicks may be from people who have no interest in your services. Select Phrase Match or even Exact Match for more control over your ad targeting.

Negative Keywords

To block certain phrases from triggering your ads, use negative keywords. You may want to add “free” as a negative keyword to block your ads from showing to anyone searching for free information or services. We also recommend adding education related keywords like school, university, college, and degree, as these searches are usually for law schools, not law firms.

Double-check to make sure all of your settings are correct and proofread your ads one more time. Now you are ready to officially get your Google Ads campaign up and running!

Step 10: Ongoing Optimization

Take a deep breath. You did it! You created your first Google Ads campaign for your law practice. Now is not the time to rest on your laurels, though.

It could be a while before you start seeing a return on your investment. Be patient, but also be aware that the best ad campaigns are closely monitored to keep them profitable. Here are three areas you should check regularly to optimize and refine your Google Ads campaign.

Keyword Bids

Monitor and adjust your bids to ensure that your ads display on the first page of search results. When your bids are too low, you will not get any ad impressions; this means no one will see your ads. Raise your bids accordingly until you start to get impressions and clicks.

Once you’re getting clicks and conversions, raise your bids on the keywords that are driving business and lower your bids on underperforming keywords or pause these keywords entirely.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Your ad click-through rate (CTR) is the most important factor in how Google determines your Quality Score. As we discussed earlier, high Quality Scores will lower your cost per click. That’s why monitoring your CTR is vital to your advertising success.

You should test new ad variations frequently to see which copy gets the best CTR. Do this on a monthly basis. Your competition will be creating new ads and refining old ones as well; if you get complacent, you may find that other law firms have a higher Quality Score and you’ll be paying more for your ads.

Landing Page Conversions

We recommend tools like Google Optimize or InstaPage to split test your landing pages to help you see the copy and layouts that work best for driving conversions. This is called A/B testing.

And that’s it! Follow the simple steps in this guide and you will be well on your way to creating high-converting Google Ads Campaigns for your law practice.

Need Help with Google Ads?

At Main Street ROI, we specialize in helping attorneys attract more local clients with Google Ads. If you’d like us to set up and manage your Google Ads campaigns for you, contact us today.

Contact us for a quote for Google Ads management