4 Costly PPC Mistakes That Law Firms Make

Taylor Hurff

Taylor Hurff

03/04/2019

Pay-per-click marketing can be an incredibly valuable asset for law firms. Unfortunately, the market is saturated with competitors willing to shell out the big bucks for leads, making it increasingly difficult to acquire new clients at an affordable price.

While steep competition certainly impacts the success of a law firm’s PPC campaign, that is not the only factor affecting your campaign. From bland ad copy to unrefined keyword targeting, there are common mistakes many law firms make that lead to a disappointing return on ad spend.

In this blog, we team up with Timothy Beck Werth, Director of Operations at Hubshout, to explain five of the most costly mistakes that law firms make when running PPC campaigns. We’ll juxtapose some low-quality ads with high-quality ones and explain the reasoning behind our suggestions, so you can understand the positive impact that a properly-managed PPC campaign can have on a law firm.

Here are four of the most common mistakes law firms can make which ultimately drive up their PPC costs:

1. Vapid Ad Copy

In paid search marketing, you only have so much time and space to make an impression on the end-user. In a highly-competitive space like the legal industry, your ad copy is critical for distinguishing your practice from the competition.

Take a look at the search ads below, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Which ad is more engaging?
  2. Which inspires more confidence in the law firm to win your case?
  3. If you had to trust one of these with your case, which would you choose?

PPC adwords ad copy for lawyers

If the first ad were the only one on a page, it could potentially attract a click as there is nothing glaringly unappealing about the ad copy. Unfortunately, your ads will rarely display without two or more competing ads. This means you have to be creative to win the user’s click.

The second ad has the location and service front and center without exhausting too many characters. It then shows an attractive figure that catches the eye and demonstrates the firm’s value and expertise ($100K+ Average Payout), followed by a unique selling position or USP, (Only Pay When We Win).

The description below is much more persuasive in the second ad as well. In the first, the reader learns nothing new from the description below the title. It sounds auto-generated and bland. In the second, the description speaks to the user in a conversational tone and highlights factors that might influence his or her decision: the firm’s history of success and the fact that the client pays nothing unless the firm wins the case.

Conclusion: Be creative with your ad copy and speak to the client’s needs.

2. Neglecting Ad Extensions

Paid search ads come with a selection of extensions that you can use to fill your listing with valuable information and helpful links for the user. These serve multiple purposes: they take up more “real estate” in the SERPs, they offer enticing links for users to click, and they catch the eye of the user better than plain search ads.

Compare the two ads below, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which ad grabs your attention initially?
  2. Which is more helpful if you’re looking to get in touch with a lawyer today?

PPC Ad copy for lawyers with and without ad extensions

The difference is pretty clear, but there are significant cost-saving advantages to using these extensions you may not realize. With your phone number visible, you can potentially get a lead without the user even clicking on your ad. This saves you money and gets you the lead faster. Listing your address helps prevent clicks from distant users who are shown your ad. The links help you direct traffic to internal pages that might influence their decision to contact you, increasing your chances of getting a lead from the click.

Conclusion: Use ad extensions to enhance your visibility and steal quality clicks.

3. Unrefined Keyword Targeting

“Law firms can see a very positive ROI from Google Ads, but they also face some of the highest cost-per-click rates I’ve ever seen,” explains Werth. “That means you can easily waste a lot of money, and fast, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this with pretty elementary strategies. For keywords, use modified broad-match for general terms, phrase- and exact-match for geo-targeted terms.”

Using modified broad-match for your general terms rather than broad-match gives Google less room for interpretation when placing your ad, which helps minimize unwanted clicks. When you select broad-match, you essentially tell Google it’s okay to target queries that are loosely related to the keyword phrase. Modified broad-match says it’s okay to target queries as long as they include the target keywords within the query somewhere.

For instance, if your keyword phrase is +personal +injury +lawyer, with modified broad-match, your ad will show for queries that include all of these terms but not necessarily in that order. It could show up for queries like, “lawyer for a personal injury case.”

For your geo-targeted terms, you’ll want to use phrase- and exact-match. These are more expensive to target, but the odds a click results in a quality lead are much higher.

Phrase-match means the search query must include the keyword phrase word-for-word within it. For example, “personal injury lawyer” could show for “personal injury lawyer near me,” “personal injury lawyer free consultation,” or even, “Manhattan personal injury lawyer.” For exact-match, “personal injury lawyer” must appear exactly as-is within the search. It can only show when a person searches, “personal injury lawyer.” While these types of targeting are naturally more expensive, they reach an audience that is much more valuable.

Here’s an example of the variation in the cost of targeting highly-profitable keywords:

a table showing the differences between the keywords "personal injury attorney" and "new york personal injury attorney"

This data shows the difference lawyers are willing to pay for more valuable keywords. Users searching the first phrase could be looking to hire a lawyer, or they could be searching for more information about personal injury attorneys. Someone searching the second phrase, however, is much more likely to be in the process of hiring an attorney, as they’re searching for attorneys in a specific location, making their click more valuable to lawyers near there.

To illustrate this point, let’s say you target both of these phrases.

For the first—personal injury attorney—let’s say you get ten users to click on your ad. This costs you $900.20. Out of those ten website visitors, three are browsing for information alone, two bounced because they were turned off by the landing page, three decided not to contact you today, and two reached out to your office. That means you spent $900.20 for two leads or $450.10 per lead.

For the second—new york personal injury attorney—you also get ten clicks. This costs you $1221.60. Of those ten, only one is browsing for information alone, two bounced from the landing page, three decided not to contact you today, and four reached out to your office. This means you spent $1221.60 for four leads or $305.40 per lead.

Although the clicks cost you more, they yield a higher percentage of conversions, which lowers your cost per conversion.

Conclusion: To be successful in PPC, you have to know where the money is and be willing to spend more for quality leads.

4. Geo-(Mis)Targeting

Geo-targeting can make or break your PPC budget. Do it well, and you can increase the rate of quality leads that result from your clicks. Do it poorly, and you can get a large number of clicks with minimal return.

For a lawyer in New York City, he or she may be happy to serve clients from Long Island. However, a user from Long Island is probably less willing to venture into downtown Manhattan to consult with an attorney when there are more convenient options available.

While the location extension we mentioned above can help deter some distant users from clicking on your ad, the safer route is to have a more thorough geo-targeting strategy in place. As a lawyer, be sure to only target areas where you are licensed to practice. This may sound basic, but it is a fairly common—and costly—oversight.

Let’s take a look at the maps below:

a map showing the geo-targeting for a lawyer's ppc campaign in new york city - 15 mile radius from downtown manhattan

In this example, the ads are being geo-targeted within 15 miles of Manhattan. This reaches users from North Jersey to Upstate New York and out to Long Island. This can lead to a high number of unwanted clicks, either from people outside of your practice area or from those who are less unwilling to travel to your office in the city. With some simple exclusions to modify your location targeting, you can exclude states, cities, and even specific zip codes to refine your campaign.

a map showing the geo-targeting for a new york city lawyer's ppc campaign with new jersey excluded and a 15 mile radius from downtown manhattan

This campaign excludes out-of-state users, so only those in or just outside of the city in New York see the ad. This means less irrelevant traffic which means a higher return on your investment.

Conclusion: Spend more time on location targeting, and you can minimize unwanted clicks.

The Takeaways

Don’t think your PPC campaign performance is out of your control. While there indeed are external factors that affect your cost per click, impression share, and other PPC metrics, there are plenty of things you can do to optimize your ads to attract high-quality clicks at a reasonable price.

From creating compelling ad copy to understanding why and how to leverage ad extensions, geo-targeting, and keyword match types, the return you see from your PPC campaigns are a reflection of the energy and expertise you put into them.

At 1SEO I.T. Support & Digital Marketing, we offer professional PPC management for law firms both in the mid-Atlantic and across the country. Whether you serve local clients or a national clientele, we can help you generate consistent, quality leads at a cost-effective ad spend.

Learn more about our digital marketing services for lawyers and law firms, and contact us today to set up a no-obligation consultation to discuss your online marketing goals.

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