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PPC for Lawyer Advertising

Why pay per click (PPC) Google Ads outperform traditional advertising by lawyers

Many law firms that used to depend on traditional advertising have switched to pay per click (PPC) digital advertising. As the internet began to grab the attention of everyone, it became abundantly clear that the search engines that served up information people were looking for online flipped the script.

Why not target advertising to people already looking for your kind of legal services rather than blasting it out to the entire population?

Jump to: How PPC works Click through rate Key considerations

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Research shows that 38% of people looking for legal help use online search engines, a stat we think is an underestimation. Every day internet users search for lawyers 850,000 times on Google. Google has the lion’s share of the search market at 84.69%, with Bing managing the lamb’s share at 8.85%.

Google Ads are PPC ads offered by the Google search engine to show up on its search engine results pages (SERPs). Not using Google Ads could be considered legal marketing negligence: The best place to to hunt for leads is where the vast majority of potential clients are roaming.

Vanguard believes that pay per click (PPC) advertising is the best form of advertising to go after the herd of qualified leads. Google et al. display a SERP when people type in a search term.

Getting to the top of the SERP is the goal. If a firm can’t get there through content search engine optimization (SEO), we recommend PPC.

The top spot on a Google PPC ad has a 2.1% click-through rate (that’s the percentage of people who see the ad in their search results who click on it).
Right under a PPC ad on a SERP is the top organic (nonpaid) search spot gained through SEO, which has a click-through rate of 39.8%.

Search engine marketing (SEM) = Google Ads PPC for lawyers

Pay-per-click (PPC) is digital advertising in which the legal firm is charged for an ad when an online search engine user clicks on it. No click, no cost. But a click should be worth more than the cost of the PPC ad because it can bring a legal practice a new client.

SEM (search engine marketing) are paid digital marketing strategies to boost a website’s search engine results (SERPs). PPC ads on Google for valuable terms such as “divorce lawyer Tallahassee, FL” is the primary tactic of SEM. More broadly, SEM can involve display advertising, remarketing, video advertising, affiliate ads, content marketing and other tactics to improve search results.

SEM is similar to SEO in that it is centered around search visibility and often specific keywords that users are entering into search requests. SEO takes a good while (and excellent content) to get a firm up to the top of SERPs. This is called organic ranking, which is earned by content quality and page/site optimization elements. SEM can do it immediately by buying that top spot. This is called paid ranking.

How PPC legal advertising works

PPC’s main benefits are the immediate results on SERPs and targeted effectiveness compared to traditional advertising. Managing successful PPC ads is not particularly easy, requiring knowledge and experience to get optimal results. That’s where Vanguard comes in, with decades of experience managing PPC ad campaigns for professional services clients.

PPC success depends on mastering:

  • Keyword targeting.
  • Bidding.
  • Click-through rate knowledge.
  • Messaging.

Effective keyword use

As with SEO, keywords are a fundamental aspect of PPC advertising for lawyers. First comes research on the topic. Say a firm is after clients needing help with workplace issues. The keyword term “workplace law” gets 390 monthly searches in the United States. That’s not so great. But “employment law” gets 60,500 searches. Use that, and the PPC ad’s potential efficacy is incredibly better.

Smart keyword use doesn’t stop with research. That keyword has to be used effectively in the ad copy and on the page the PPC ad is linking to on your legal website. Creating customized landing pages just for the PPC ad is often needed.

Keyword bidding process

All search engine ads are run as an auction. As with any auction, the top spot (“winner”) goes to the highest bid.

When a user enters a search term, the auction takes place in real-time, and Google Ads uses a variety of factors to determine which ad will appear first, second, third and so on. These factors include the advertiser’s maximum bid amount, the ad’s relevance to the search query, the ad’s historical performance, and other quality factors. Where the user is located and how many people are searching for a term also impact the cost of a keyword.

Understanding the keyword bidding process from experience can achieve that balance of strong keyword without top-dollar costs. To do it right, Vanguard evaluates cost per click, volume, competitor ads and the firm’s budget. For example, we find that sometimes using a keyword that isn’t the strongest can bring great results at less cost. The bidding process itself is complicated and done in real time with Google judging the winner using an ever-changing set of metrics.

That’s why utilizing professionals versed in the intricacies of PPC ads can really payoff and keep a firm form wasting money. Smart matching of keyword use to the bidding process can squeeze the most ROI from a PPC monthly budget.

Understanding click-through rate

Smart keyword use and bidding knowledge give you a leg up on the competition. True PPC ad success relates to how well an advertiser demonstrates to Google overall understanding of its PPC system: Targeting the right keywords, having an appropriate budget, writing compelling ads and sending those ads to a quality website where users stay engaged.

If an ad has a good click-through rate (CTR), Google sees that and rewards it. That’s because the ad is obviously offering what searchers are looking for – Google’s raison d’être.

To improve CTR, law firms can focus on targeting the right keywords, optimizing ad copy, and testing different ad callouts and messaging.

Google wants you to spend money. Google, and others offering PPC, will make note of the high quality of your ad, often resulting in lower cost per click and improved rankings in search results – all because it brings more ad viewers, which results in more ad revenue to Google.

Think bigger: the Vanguard difference

  1. A growth guarantee of 15%-30% in year one, – just like we’ve successfully provided in healthcare marketing.
  2. A 20-plus-year track record in meeting the guarantee for doctors.
  3. A CEO who’s a law school graduate.
  4. We offer not just “SEO,” which can mean different things to different people, but content marketing produced by competent professional writers, who are hard to come across.
  5. A turnkey, fully integrated program that includes social media, online reputation management, public/media relations, and more.

Key considerations in using PPC for lawyers

PPC ads can launch a legal firm’s name and offerings to the top of SERPs immediately. But to stay there the firm must keep buying the ads. Getting to the top of SERPs through SEO generally keeps a firm’s webpage listing at the top for months and years.

Potential legal clients – and all internet searchers – are more likely to click on the organic listing gained through SEO rather than the paid listing in a PPC ad. They understand that one has bought the positioning and the other has earned it with good information the searcher was looking for.

The top spot on a PPC ad has a 2.1% click-through rate.

The top organic search spot has a click-through rate of 39.8%.

Successful advertising with PPC for lawyers


PPC for law firms is a science of sorts – made more tricky because Google is constantly altering its PPC algorithms. For example, recently it has changed its methods so that the advertiser suggests headlines and ad body copy, but Google puts the ad together as it sees fit.

That requires knowing how Google makes such selections and feeding it the proper material to get the ad desired for the keyword targeted at a decent CTR cost. Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? It is.

Anyone can set up a Google PPC ad campaign. Setting up an effective one is not so easy. Misjudging the users’ intent on the landing page created to support the PPC ad can lead to poor performance. Using too many keywords in a PPC ad can torpedo a campaign.

Get started with Vanguard

Essentially, Google rewards those who understand its PPC system with better positioning and lower costs. To avoid wasting thousands of dollars on inefficient PPC for lawyers campaigns, legal firms should go with a PPC pro. Vanguard Communications. Let’s talk strategy and guaranteed growth.