Four common issues with Google search ads for lawyers

In providing analytics for lawfirms and also in running some campaigns on behalf of clients we gain some insights about common issues that crop up on ad campaigns.

While pay per click ads (Google search ads) are more common in plaintiff-facing law firms there are business law firms who run them too.

Here are four common issues we come across:

1. Perverse incentives. Surprisingly, paying your digital agency on the basis of a percentage of your total ad spend can motivate them to push for a higher spend. Consider fixed prices or hourly rates. And when your agency tells you that you should advertise for your own firm’s name it’s worth pondering whether that primarily makes the agency’s conversion figures look better. Finally when choosing whether to advertise with Google alone or with Google and partner websites be aware that click fraud is more common in situations where a website owner gets paid for clicking on their own ads.

2. Misunderstanding your prospective client. The public often don’t search using the terms you’d expect. And if they Google their construction dispute, click your ad, and then get sent to your firm’s homepage or even your generic property practice group page or lawyer’s bio, they often find it easier to click the back button than navigate around further. You really do need (multiple) dedicated landing pages for ad campaigns or you are wasting your money.

3. Ignoring cost-minimization strategies. Practice group level campaigns generally perform better than bidding on generic highly competitive (costly) terms like ‘[city name] lawyer’. And going national when you’re a regional firm because you might get out-of-state matters could also be costly. For all campaigns you should also review the actual search queries that matched your keywords to avoid paying for unforeseen irrelevant terms (“negative keywords”).

4. Launch-and-forget. Tuning your campaign for at least the first two months post-launch is critical. That means moving beyond default analytics reports (if you’re already a client tell us if you’re starting a search campaign and we can at least add our special advertising reporting format for you to your Google Analytics reporting) and changing the campaign (bids, ads, keywords etc) as you see what actually works best. You should also identify the most valuable terms and ad formats and build that content into your website to develop an unpaid search presence for those same terms. Search campaigns executed effectively give you customer and content marketing insights applicable well beyond the campaign itself.

There is much more to search ads than the above (don’t get us started on fun and games with programmatic buying) so feel free to drop us a line if this is something you’re interested in exploring further.

Photo by Dushan and Miae