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Does PPC Work for Law Firms? Yes (If Done Correctly)

Whether you are brand new to PPC marketing or currently running ad campaigns, it’s important to know what you are investing your money into is creating a positive return on investment. We will discuss everything you need to know about PPC, how it differs from SEO, why both can work for law firms, and how a PPC agency could help. 

What is PPC?

We need to start by explaining what PPC is. PPC stands for pay-per-click and is a form of internet marketing. The most popular form of PPC is Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords). With Google Ads, you do not pay for an ad unless a user clicks on it

When someone searches for a keyword such as “divorce lawyer near me”, multiple text ads will show up. The order in which the ads show on the page is determined by ad rank. There are a lot of factors that go into ad rank, but ultimately, it’s important for an ad to show up on the first page above the organic results. 

With the ad preview below, you can see that this ad appears above the organic search results and Google Maps. Organic search results are search results that are not paid for. They can, however, be improved by search engine optimization (SEO).

Ad Preview for search "divorce lawyer near me"

It Does Not Need to Be an Either-Or with PPC and SEO

A lot of law firms look at PPC and SEO as an either-or decision. It doesn’t need to be that way. They are two different online marketing techniques with different results and timing. 

The main difference between PPC and SEO is that PPC is paid advertising while SEO impacts organic search results. They both are used to reach potential clients when they search for a term relevant to your law firm. A law firm doesn’t pay when someone clicks an organic listing. They do pay for any SEO services that resulted in the organic listing showing up on page one. 

PPC is considered a faster way to generate high-quality leads because you can start showing up at the top of the page almost immediately. SEO can take several months to a couple of years to reflect major changes in organic results. Therefore, a marketing strategy should not be an either-or between PPC and SEO. A law firm needs to take a holistic approach to their overall marketing strategy and determine how to best combine their PPC and SEO efforts. 

Why PPC Works for Law Firms

Increasingly more people are going online to find a law firm to help them with their legal matters. They are less likely to ask family & friends for referrals. This is especially true with more private legal matters such as divorce and child custody. 

Most people searching for their first lawyer will not know about sites like Avvo or Super Lawyers. That means, they will go to Google or another search engine to find the type of lawyer they need. According to Google Trends, in the last five years the search term “lawyer near me” has had about a 400% increase in interest and the search term “attorney near me” has had about a 690% increase in interest

People using terms like “lawyer” and “attorney” in their search query are usually at the “bottom of the funnel.” That means they are beyond the information gathering and decision stage and are ready to hire a lawyer. The only question is, who to hire? It is your job to show up so you can be in the mix and put your best foot forward, so you stand out from your competitors.

Oftentimes, the organic search results display websites to find a law firm rather than for a specific law firm. As you can see in the image below, a preview of search results for “custody lawyer near me” shows results for FindLaw, Legal Match, and Yelp. This means someone searching for a child custody lawyer would have to sort through multiple results before finding a law firm. 

Organic results for search term "custody lawyer near me"

By running PPC, a law firm can have their ad listed at the top of the search results. This gets their name and information prominently displayed exactly when someone needs it. Even if they are not ready to hire a lawyer at that moment, they are still exposed to your firm’s name and are more likely to remember it when they are ready to hire. 

PPC for Lawyers – Keys to Success

Legal PPC can be highly competitive and expensive. If a law firm does not properly set up ad campaigns with the appropriate settings and target audience, it will quickly result in wasted money with no new clients in return. 

There are many critical components of running a successful PPC campaign. Some of the most critical elements are:

  • Keywords
  • Match types
  • Demographic targeting
  • Geographic targeting
  • Ad copy
  • Bidding
  • Budget management
  • Conversion tracking
  • Landing pages & Conversion rate optimization (CRO)

For example, if a law firm does not have the correct match type keyword or are unfamiliar with Google’s close variants, it could quickly waste thousands of dollars. Close variants are terms that Google has determined are similar enough to have the same meaning. For example, the terms “lawyer” and “attorney” are considered close variants; however, so are “family court lawyer” and “family court”. While the terms lawyer and attorney are used interchangeably, the terms family court lawyer and family court have significantly different meanings. People searching for “family court” are often looking to call the courthouse. If your ad shows at the top of the page with a big “Click to call” button, you will be paying to have people call you to get the number for the courthouse. Fun!

If geographic targeting is not optimized, a law firm could be paying for clicks from users who live outside of their targeted area. If demographics are not considered, a law firm that only represents women will show ads to men (Google Ads currently allows gender, age, and household income targeting).

A good PPC program will have a strong process for reviewing, maintaining, and improving campaigns. If all of this is in place, a law firm will exponentially increase their chances of PPC success. 

Your Time Is Valuable. Having an Agency Can Help

Do you find yourself thinking, “It seems like a lot goes into running and managing a successful PPC campaign, why even try”? The truth is it can be overwhelming to manage a PPC account on your own. That’s why it is important to take the time to think about the ultimate goal for your law firm now and in the future and carefully plan how you want to execute your goals. 

Your time is valuable. Spending time managing PPC is not the type of thing successful attorneys spend their time doing. By working with the right agency, you get the benefits of working with an expert. 

When executed properly, PPC works for law firms. All it takes is a little planning and working with the experts to make sure everything is set up correctly and running smoothly. 

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