PPC for law firms refers to online paid search campaigns for attorneys and law firms that are planned, executed, managed, and optimized for maximum ROI.

Here, you’ll find:

  1. What PPC for law firms is
  2. The benefits of PPC ads for law firms
  3. Top PPC mistakes law firms make (and what to do instead)
  4. How to build a winning PPC campaign for your law firm
  5. PPC strategies for lawyers (that actually work)
  6. How much PPC services for attorneys cost

Bus ads. Bench ads. Radio ads. TV ads. 

Aside from being fan favorites among law firms, all of these platforms require exquisite timing. 

Even if these ads are perfectly placed to reach your target audience, that doesn’t guarantee they’re ready for your law services — or that they have the awareness to collect your information before the ad disappears. 

It’s an inconvenient form of marketing, especially in a day and age when people are used to seeking services on their own.

This is what makes online advertising a gold mine. 

If you’re not using pay-per-click (PPC) ads to promote your law firm, you’re leaving money on the table for competitors to take. 

Let’s review why PPC is an important tool for law firms. 

 What is PPC for law firms?

PPC for law firms refers to the strategic planning, execution, management, and optimization of online paid search advertising campaigns launched by attorneys and law firms.

It involves leveraging digital platforms like Google Ads and social media networks to drive targeted traffic to a law firm’s website or landing pages.

Often, when a person needs an attorney, the first thing they do is head to Google Search. After searching for a term like “personal injury lawyers,” they’ll see local ads (based on the user’s IP address):

Google ppc ads example 

These are pay-per-click ads, which means each time a searcher clicks on one, the advertiser (the law firm) pays a fee to the search engine. The rate varies, depending on the keywords you’re targeting. However, it can range anywhere from a few cents to a few hundred dollars. 

PPC advertising is a form of search engine marketing (SEM), not to be confused with search engine optimization (SEO). The former requires you to pay to appear in ad-based search results (SEM), and the other is “free” to appear in organic search engine results pages (SEO).

As an agency, our combined decades of experience and know-how tell us that the most effective marketing strategy for nearly any company involves both SEO and paid search tactics. 

A proper SEO plan (with elements like technical SEO and content marketing) can get your firm more organic rankings, increase brand awareness, and boost credibility. 

Effective attorney PPC management, on the other hand, makes sure that your ads are there and displayed when relevant terms are being searched for.

Common PPC terms to know

Thinking about adding PPC to your digital marketing plan? You’ll need to understand the following SEM terms:

  • Click-through rate (CTR): How many times users clicked on your ad. It’s calculated using this formula: CTR Number of clicks / Total number of impressions. (The average CTR in the legal industry is 2.93%.)
  • Cost per click (CPC): How much advertisers pay for each click. CPC is determined by multiplying the bid price by the CTR. For example, if you bid $1 for a keyword that has a 10% CTR, then you’ll pay $10 for every 1,000 clicks.
  • Cost per impression (CPI): How much advertisers pay per view. CPI is determined by multiplying the cost per click by the number of impressions (views). For example, if your cost per click is $5 and you get 100,000 impressions, you’ll pay $50 for every 1,000 views.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of visitors who convert into customers after clicking on your ad. For example, if 2,000 people click on your ad, but only 20 of them become customers, then your conversion rate would be 0.2%. (The average conversion rate for legal marketing is more than 4%.)
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): How much advertisers spend to acquire new clients. Cost per acquisition is measured as the total amount spent divided by the number of sales generated. For example, if a company spends $10K on ads to get five conversions, then the CPA is $2K per customer. 
  • Call to action (CTA): An instruction given to website visitors to perform a specific task. Examples include “call us now,” “get a free consultation,” or “contact us,” like this one:

PPC lawyer ad example 

The term you’ll likely discuss frequently is cost per click. If you’re wondering what running PPC ads will cost, you’ll want to pay extra attention to CPC. 

If you find your ad spend is on the high side, here’s advice from Gabrielle Aldinger, SEM manager at HawkSEM:

“Your CPC might be much higher than you expect, depending on how competitive your keywords are. The best thing you can do for high CPC keywords is to monitor your conversion quality and conversion rate. If users search for high CPC keywords and click through to your ads, you’ll want them to convert. If the conversion rate is low or you have a limited budget for ads, think about targeting a wider variety of keywords with a lower CPC.”

In other words, it’s worth it to target the high-cost keywords if they generate a positive return on investment (e.g., high conversions).

 What are the benefits of using PPC ads for law firms?

Implementing a robust PPC marketing strategy offers several key benefits for lawyers and law firms seeking to grow their online presence and attract new clients.

The first thing your prospects see when searching for legal services are the ads at the top of the SERPs (search engine results pages). It holds position zero, beating the #1 spot SEO strategies aim for. So in a sense, it has a higher chance of getting a click than the landing page in position #1. 

Top of SERPs

And if you’re using local service ads, you’ll have the bonus of being at the tip-top with the call functionality:

PPC Lawyer

But being at the top is only one hurdle to overcome.

Next, you’ve got to create an ad that’ll entice users to click. That brings us to our next benefit: PPC marketing allows hyper-focused targeting. 

With PPC ads, you can control who sees your ad using demographic targeting and super-specific long-tail keywords (e.g., “Houston divorce attorney for men” instead of “divorce attorney”). 

You can find audience data in your ad platform’s dashboard. Or implement other tools that gather more granular audience details. 

For example, ConversionIQ, HawkSEM’s own proprietary software, reveals who’s clicking your ads (and converting), so you can personalize your marketing campaign and messaging for better results. 

Here’s an overview of the other benefits of PPC for law firms:

Enhanced online visibility

By leveraging PPC advertising, your law firm can secure the coveted top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs) which can often be very difficult or nearly impossible to reach with search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

This will increase your online visibility and brand exposure. You then reach more potential clients at the precise moment they are actively seeking legal services, enhancing the likelihood of conversions.

Targeted audience reach

PPC campaigns allow your law firm to precisely target your ideal audience based on location, demographics, and search intent. 

Granular targeting ensures that your ads are displayed to potential clients who are most likely to engage with your services, resulting in higher-quality new leads and increased conversion rates compared to other channels.

Measurable results and ROI

A major plus of PPC for legal marketing is its inherent measurability. Robust tracking and analytics tools built into the platforms mean you can get detailed reports that outline the performance of your campaigns.

This includes key metrics such as CTR, conversion rates, and CPI. The data then allows you to continuously optimize your campaigns for maximum return on investment.

Pro tip: If you apply assets (formerly called ad extensions), you can change the look of your ads. For example, the sitelink asset takes up more real estate, making the ad easier to spot. In this example, you can see more text beneath the ad, as well as links to additional site pages:

 And here’s another example, but with links directly beneath the ad copy:

Link extensions example

These are helpful for directing leads to other important pages that guide their purchasing decision. For example, you can include testimonials and case results to show (not tell) how you can help them.

 Top PPC mistakes law firms make (and what to do instead)

Pay-per-click advertising isn’t new — in fact, a report by CallRail shows that 78% of law firms already use paid search to drive growth. But  82% say the ROI isn’t worth it. No surprise, given that only 13% generate leads from their campaigns(!)

However, the issue isn’t the medium — it’s the campaigns.

As advertising experts, we wouldn’t feel comfortable representing ourselves in the courtroom. So lawyers shouldn’t expect themselves to become digital marketing experts either. 

That same CallRail report shows that 83% of law firms that outsource PPC management say it improved campaign performance. 

Nearly half of law firms are already planning to increase their budget for paid ads. If you’re doing the same (without the help of a legal PPC agency), make sure you avoid the following mistakes:

1. Not having dedicated (or relevant) landing pages

Every ad you create should have a dedicated landing page that speaks to a specific target audience. If you have a generic home page or service page, you’ll risk losing visitors who feel they’re in the wrong place. 

“The more the landing page reflects the keyword and ad, the higher the chances they’ll convert,” says Aldinger. “Tailor landing pages to your target audience, as legal cases regarding different issues may be sensitive topics for individuals.”

For example, if you’re targeting a keyword like “personal injury attorney for teen workers,” then your landing page should discuss the problems relevant to teen employees and how you can help. Then optimize the landing page for that specific keyword instead of neutral keywords like “personal injury lawyer.”

Whenever we build a law firm’s PPC campaigns, we create an optimized landing page to go with it. For example, we increased the bids on high-converting divorce and child custody keywords on one of our legal client’s campaigns, and launched a custom landing page (on May 11th).

The result: their conversion rate average soared to more than 13%. 

Custody conversion  

We used a mix of heatmapping and A/B testing to identify what elements on the landing page worked best (such as placing the CTA “above the fold” on the page).

2. Bidding on the wrong keywords

Keyword selection is one of the most critical parts of your ad campaign. Get it wrong, and you could waste money targeting the wrong people. Or worse, not having your Google search ads appear at all because the competition is too fierce. 

An example of this is choosing broad search terms. 

“The legal space has really high CPCs, so it’s a great tactic to look for long-tail, practice-specific, and location-specific keywords to get the most qualified clicks,” says Rachel Corak, Lead Strategist at HawkSEM. 

For example, targeting “divorce attorney” is too broad. Instead, you should include your city and practice, like “Houston child custody lawyer for men.”

Pro tip: Negative keyword lists help prevent you from appearing in irrelevant searches. They also help your ads remain cost-effective by eliminating unqualified clicks and creating finely tuned ad groups with no overlap, which improves quality scores, increases ad relevance, and reduces cost per click.

3. Not integrating your ad campaigns with a CRM

A customer relationship management (CRM) platform organizes all of your leads so you know where they come from, who they are, and what stage they’re in the customer journey. It follows each potential client from lead to conversion. 

It’s an excellent way to gather leads and customer insights to guide your advertising and marketing strategies. And it’s why we built ConversionIQ to guide client campaigns. Not only does it monitor leads coming in, but it also identifies keywords driving qualified leads that convert.

4. Poor location targeting

Unless you’re offering virtual legal services, your PPC ads should include location-based keywords. This narrows your target audience, increasing the odds of a click and a conversion. Leaving out city or neighborhood keywords means your ad will appear in front of people too far away to use your service. 

Geo-targeting also improves your odds of appearing in the Google 3-Pack, which shows a map and the top three businesses in the area:

Google 3-Pack ad To appear here, you must enable the location extension.

5. Targeting competitor keywords

It’s tempting to use competitor keywords (e.g., their law firm’s name) in your ads to boost your visibility and clicks. But you may want to think twice. 

“Getting a high keyword quality score is difficult without using the competitor’s name in your ads or on your landing pages. Instead, try a search campaign targeting a Custom Audience of users that searches for your competitors’ keywords and visits other law firms’ websites,” says Aldinger.

This workaround allows you to snag your competitor’s audience without unintentionally promoting them in your ad and landing pages. 

6. Neglecting PPC campaigns

Running PPC campaigns isn’t a one-and-done deal. It requires constant attention and pruning to ensure you’re getting the best results. What worked this month may not work next month, so constant reiteration of your keywords, ad copy, images, and CTAs is key. 

Use tools to analyze your campaigns to determine which ads are underperforming (e.g., getting clicks and no conversions or impressions), then run experiments to see what increases the clicks and conversions. 

What are the best platforms for lawyer PPC ads?

There are many platforms lawyers can use to advertise their firms: Google, Bing, LinkedIn, and Facebook, to name a few. But which is ideal for reaching target customers?

“If you represent individuals, Google or Bing can be a great place to start,” says Aldinger. “Many people look to search engines for more information when they’re in difficult legal situations. But if your law firm’s typical audience is a business, or you want to target job titles or industries, LinkedIn would be your best bet.”

This approach allows you to target users more accurately and meet them where they are. LinkedIn might have a higher CPA, but you’re reaching a more specific group of users, and the clicks and conversions you get are typically higher quality.

 How to build a winning PPC campaign for your law firm

A successful PPC campaign requires careful planning and execution. So let’s start with the planning — here’s what to do before building a PPC campaign:

  • Conduct audience research: Use tools and surveys to learn how clients find your firm, what keywords they use, and what legal services they need.
  • Perform competitor research: Find out who your competition is, what keywords they’re ranking for, and what types of services they offer.
  • Do keyword research: Find relevant keywords based on your specific services, location, and target audience (e.g., DUI attorney in Las Vegas).
  • Create a landing page: Make a landing page for each audience/service you target in your ads. 

To make your landing page perform better, use these optimization tips from our Lead Strategist:

  • Include reviews on the landing page that support your expertise in the practice area you’re promoting.
  • Use a clean landing page design that makes complex issues like court proceedings easy to interpret.
  • Use colors that invoke a feeling of calm (e.g., learn the psychology of colors). Court proceedings are stressful, and this visual element can help increase conversion rates.
  • Add design elements that invoke trust and show credibility, like board certifications and case results.

Use the insights you gather from your research to develop ads and campaigns that are relevant and highly targeted for a specific group of people (e.g., young mothers going through a divorce).

Setting up your PPC campaign

Now, it’s time to create a PPC campaign. You’ll have similar sections to cover no matter the platform you choose. Here’s an overview of the process:

  • Choose campaign goals: Determine why you’re running a PPC campaign. Is it to drive traffic to your website? To generate leads? Or download a free guide?
  • Create a campaign: Create a new campaign for specific keywords and audiences. Each ad group represents one type of service or client segment. For example, if you have two different types of legal services (e.g., DUI and divorce), you’d create separate campaigns for each.
  • Define demographics: Choose audience segments based on location, age, gender, household income, and parental status. 
  • Select days and times: Decide when your audience is most active on the ad platform and choose those days (requires experimentation, but customer research should reveal their working/home hours). 
  • Set your PPC budget:  Set a daily budget for each campaign. This will determine how much you spend per click (CPC) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA).
  • Create your ads: Write the headline, ad copy, and CTA, then include an image (if applicable) to make it stand out. 
  • Monitor performance: Track the results of your ad campaigns using the analytics from the platform and other tools.
  • Experiment and reiterate: Look at your metrics, such as clicks, phone calls, and conversions, to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Run A/B tests by changing one element (headline, copy, CTA) at a time to see what improves results.

 PPC strategies for lawyers (that actually work)

Managing PPC campaigns is a lot of effort, but it’s worth it when you leverage the right strategies. Unfortunately, the CallRail report mentioned above shows that nearly 40% of lawyers say paid search is underperforming for their firms. 

If you’re in this boat (or want to avoid it), then here are several strategies to adopt. 

1. Include keywords in your headline and ad copy

Having targeted keywords throughout your ad helps Google understand who you’re targeting. But don’t overdo it — adding the terms to your headline and once in the ad copy is enough. 

This ad targets keywords similar to “family law attorneys,” which improves the ad strength and keyword quality score.

Family law ad example

Google takes this into consideration when deciding whose ads will appear in search (yours or a competitor’s). As a result, having the keywords in the ad copy is crucial. The first text a user reads from the ad is similar to or exactly what they’re searching for, which will improve CTR.

We used high-quality keywords with high conversion rates in the ads we managed for a client’s law firm. And you’ll never guess what happened next — they reduced their ad spend in August from $210/day to $40/day because they were getting too many quality leads.

Custody proof

This just goes to show the power of optimizing ads with the right keywords. 

2. Show more details about your law firm using the location extension

When you add the location extension to your Google ad campaign, it shows more information about your law firm. For example, you can include your address, phone number, office hours, and additional helpful links. 

Location extension

It also increases the odds of getting clicks, since prospects can see whether you’re near them and available to take their call right now.

3. Include a CTA in the ad copy 

What is it you want prospective customers to do: Call to schedule a consultation? Visit your office? Or fill out a lead form? Whatever the call to action is, include it in the body of the ad, so people know what to do next. 

You can also add other details to make your law firm stand apart. 

“Add information like the number of cases worked or years of experience to set a foundation of trust that you can help them,” Aldinger advises. 

4. Optimize your website

Your landing page is optimized for the target audience. But don’t forget about the rest of your website. Odds are, visitors will browse through the rest of your site to get a feel of your legal status. This is where you can showcase your legal prowess. 

“Include how many cases your firm worked on or individuals you’ve helped,” says Aldinger. “Reviews are also great to showcase your firm’s experience relating to those specific case types. Legal cases can get expensive quickly, so the user needs to know you’re going to fight for their best interest.”

Then to weed out those who are only there for answers, place FAQs at the top of the page (instead of the bottom). We’ve seen success doing this because it provides general legal information to those at the top of the funnel.

5. Be available for client calls within 24 hours (or less)

The sooner you can connect with a lead, the higher the odds of closing a deal. CallRail’s report shows that 46% of law firms state “phone” as the preferred outreach method for legal prospects. 

On average, it takes law firms five hours to respond to prospective clients. Roughly 99% of firms are okay with their response times.

However, due to the time-sensitive nature of the legal industry, slow response times lead to 46 lost prospects per year, equating to $200,000 in lost revenue. 

So if you can get on the phone within the first few hours, the less likely you’ll lose a lead to a competitor.

PPC services for attorneys: Maximize your leads

PPC services for law firms generally include:

  • A PPC audit – reviewing current campaigns and performance
  • Competitive analysis – researching the current competitor landscape
  • Customized PPC strategy – a tailor-made strategy built just for your
  • Market and keyword research – deep-diving into the current industry and finding the keywords that will be most beneficial to target
  • Ad copy – creating compelling, targeting ad messaging 
  • Bid management – ensuring you get the most out of your budget and campaigns
  • Conversion tracking – monitoring progress and A/B testing
  • Landing pages – building effective landing pages to increase conversion rates
  • Ongoing campaign optimization – analyzing performance and optimizing efforts as needed

At HawkSEM, we offer comprehensive law firm PPC management services specifically designed to meet the unique needs of attorneys. Our holistic approach ensures that your PPC campaigns are strategically aligned with your firm’s goals, delivering maximum return on ad spend. 

We understand that each law firm has distinct objectives and target audiences. Our team works closely with you to develop a customized PPC strategy that aligns with your specific practice areas and target audiences. 

By understanding your firm’s unique value proposition, we create tailored campaigns that drive meaningful results.

 How much do PPC services for attorneys cost?

From our experience, the average firm or attorney that invests in PPC marketing for lawyers spends around $9,000–$10,000 a month.

The takeaway

Running a law firm takes a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, so does managing a profitable PPC campaign. Paid search is an investment that keeps on giving, but only with the right tools and strategies.

Implement both, and you can reduce time spent managing your PPC, while still maintaining a positive ROI.

Bookmark this guide and follow it to enhance your PPC efforts and maintain a competitive edge.

This post has been updated and was originally published in June 2023. 

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