Google Ads for Solicitors, PPC for Law Firms in the UK
An extensive guide showing you how to make the most out of Google Adwords for law firms.
Google Ads/ PPC Advertising for law firms does precisely this, which is why it is one of the most effective forms of marketing for solicitors and for the majority of my law firm clients.
Google Ads and PPC Guide for Solicitors
Here is the table of contents, so that you can see largely what is covered. The guide includes multiple screen captures and illustrations to show you precisely how to make Google Ads work for your law firm:
To instantly download my comprehensive guide to PPC Marketing For Law Firms, simply click the button below:
Commercial and Private Law Firms: Why Google Ads/PPC Works
I am Nick Jervis. I am a former solicitor (now non-practising) and have used Google Adwords as it was, Google Ads as it now is called, to generate new clients for law firms since 2004. I generate clients for both commercial and private law firms. I spend a lot of time working on Google Ads campaigns but equally as importantly talking with my clients to help them convert more of their existing enquiries for their legal services into new clients.
The purpose of this article is to give you a thorough understanding of how a Google Ads campaign should work for solicitors, and how you can manage a supplier if you ask one to help you to run your Google Adwords campaign.
If you would like to discuss Google Adwords in more detail, or for me to carry out a free, no obligation review of your Google Adwords campaign, please call me on 0117 290 8555, email me or complete a Free Online Enquiry.
How Google Ads Works For Legal Services
Let’s say Jim is buying his first house. He has put in an offer that has been accepted, so he now needs to find a solicitor. He asks his friends if they can recommend anyone but he is one of the first amongs them to buy so they cannot help. He does what everyone else does in this situation and heads online.
He opens Google, types in the name of his town plus the service he is looking for and is presented with these results:
Results 1 to 4 are all of the Google AdWords search results. They are the first four results that the searcher sees.
It is not until result number 5 that you see a firm that is not paying (directly) to be in the results.
You will also notice that 2, 3 and 4 are all occupying significantly more space than Google Ads advertisement number 1.
This is because they are making the most of the Google AdWords features which I will explore further on in this article, but for now I just wanted to make the point that Google AdWords works well because it is attraction marketing in its purest form.
Someone looking for your legal services sees your advertisement, clicks on it and lands on your website.
If you have a website that has plenty of valuable information about your legal services, good client reviews and a variety of methods with which they can contact you at the end of each page, you will get the telephone call, or the online enquiry that allows you to call the prospect.
You are on your way to landing a new client and the first time you had to become involved was when they contacted you. Before that time Google Adwords was doing all of the selling of your services for you!
If you have tried Google AdWords to promote your law firm before and it did not work for you, more often than not it is because it was not set up correctly.
In most cases Google Ads works incredibly well in terms of generating new enquiries, but only if every aspect of it is set up properly.
Here are some of the common reasons that a Google Ads campaign is not working when I take one over for a firm of solicitors:
- Not enough of the available features inside Google Ads were being used;
- Visitors were sent to the wrong pages on the website because they failed to answer the question (search term) that the visitor had entered into Google;
- The wrong keywords were being targeted (the words that trigger your advertisement to be displayed); or
- not enough was being invested to generate a return on investment;
All of these things, individually, can stop a campaign being successful.
Together they can totally derail a Google AdWords campaign at the same time as taking a fair chunk of your hard-earned money.
However, when you get the set up of a Google Ads campaign right, you can expect a return on investment of at least three to one, but often as much as 20 to 50 to one.
When you get to that level, you have literally created a system that creates ‘clients on tap’ for you.
What If You Have Never Tested Google Adwords?
If you are a solicitor who has never tried Google AdWords for these reasons:
- You never click on those advertisements so no one else will either;
- You believe that no one buys legal services from a Google search.
then you have a very pleasant surprise in store.
If, until now, you have been thinking either or both of these things, I have just opened a significant opportunity for you to win a substantial volume of new client instructions that you are currently missing.
Google makes around $20 billion per quarter solely from Google AdWords.
In my small sector of the legal world, my law firm clients spend in excess of one million pounds a year on Google Ads.
Let me assure you that they only do this because they know that Google AdWords puts a significant amount more money in terms of billed profits into their law firms than it takes out of them. Those figures should prove to you beyond reasonable doubt that Google Ad-Words works for solicitors.
Now let me show you what you need to do to make Google AdWords work properly.
Getting The Best Return On Investment From Your Google Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign
In my experience of undertaking legal services marketing full time since 2003, I know that the only way for a law firm to grow to its full potential is for the law firm owner to outsource as much of the marketing as possible.
With this in mind, I really do not want you to do your own marketing, especially when it comes to Google AdWords, because it will be a complete and utter waste of your valuable time, and, to put it bluntly, it is very unlikely you will do it as well as an outsourced supplier who will charge a fraction of your hourly rate.
I have been running Google AdWords campaigns for my own business and for clients since 2004. AdWords changes and evolves constantly. Unless you are working with it every day, it is hard to reach the levels of expertise that you need to reach to make it successful for you.
If you do want to scale the heights of becoming a successful Google AdWords campaign manager, you will fail in so many other areas of running your law firm that it will be a bitter-tasting success.
If you are genuinely serious about growing your law firm, you must be in control of the numbers and manage your outsourced suppliers, but you shouldn’t do it all yourself. It is simply impossible for you to do that. Therefore, my aim with this article is to set out the vital statistics of an AdWords campaign so that you can manage your supplier to do it well for you.
The Basic Requirements Of A Legal Services Google Ads Campaign
I mentioned above that Google Ads is more of a science, so how does this science work?
Well, the great news is that it isn’t just about paying Google the most money to get to the number one position in the search results. That being said, if you do Google AdWords badly, Google will have no problem taking your money from you even though you might not be getting any results.
The basic formula that Google uses to decide who sits in position number one is called ‘ad rank’, and in simple terms, it works like this:
Quality score × amount of your bid = ad rank
I will examine the details of your Google Ads quality score in a moment, but first, let me show you why it isn’t just about bidding the largest amount to get to number one, although, as you can see from the formula, that is a factor.
Examples of ad rank calculations
Your keywords, plus your advertisements, plus your landing pages create your quality score, which, when combined with your bid, leads to your ad rank. This score determines which position your advertisement will appear in for the relevant search terms (whether you will be above your nearest rivals)!
The higher the ad rank score, the higher you will be listed in the paid search results.
In this example, Advertiser 2 will be in position 1 even though they are bidding £2 less per click than Advertiser 1. The more interesting part is that Advertiser 4 will be in position 2 even though they are bidding the lowest amount for each click through to their legal services website.
This is the beauty of the science of Google AdWords.
This is why I know that law firms with smaller marketing budgets can, and frequently do, beat large firms of solicitors with vast marketing budgets.
Many of my clients consistently appear above competitors that operate on a national scale with marketing budgets many times higher than those of my clients. I love it!
They achieve this by having a better-quality score for their keywords, which then allows them to bid less than the big guns but still achieve a better ad rank.
How To Improve Your Google Ads Quality Score
There are three key factors that determine your quality score:
- the content of your advertisement;
- your keywords (the words that you feature to attract people to your website); and
- the page on your website that your visitor is redirected to (your landing page).
The ideal scenario is that your visitor types in their search term, sees your advertisement at the top of the Google Ads results and it matches what they are looking for, so they click your advertisement and are redirected to a page on your website that addresses the topic that they have typed into Google, which encourages them to make contact with you. Bingo! You have a good new prospect.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? The truth of the matter is, in its purest form, it really is that simple. However, it does take some time, lots of tweaking and constant measuring to achieve this objective. It might help if I show you examples of good and bad advertisements.
Imagine Jane types into Google ‘business solicitor Bristol’ and is presented with this advertisement.
This is based on a real search that I carried out when I typed in Jane’s search term above.
The contents have been changed to ensure the business remains anonymous, but I wanted to show you what can happen if Google AdWords is not handled correctly. Can you see the problems with the advertisement versus what I typed into Google? I was looking for a business solicitor in Bristol, instead I am presented with an advertisement for a compensation claim expert.
The advertisement heading does not match what I typed into Google, nor does the content or any other parts of the advertisement. The Google Ads quality score is likely to be very low, meaning that the advertiser must have been prepared to pay a lot of money for each click for this advertisement even to be displayed.
The chances of Jane clicking on the advertisement are low, because the advertisement copy does not match her search term, and even if she does click on to it, the page she is redirected to is not going to match her needs either.
For the good example, let us use Jim’s search for a conveyancing, as we did above, which produced the following results.
Advertiser number 1 is the only one that mentions Manchester in the title. Sadly, however, Advertiser one does not make full use of all of the AdWords facilities, so the advertisement is only three lines deep when it could be six lines deep, as in the fourth advertisement, yet this is one targets a completely different geographical location, Liverpool.
Therefore, despite advertiser number one not making use of all of the AdWords features (which I will go through in detail below), Jim is still most likely to click on it because it mentions ‘Manchester’, which is clearly important to him. The advertisement can definitely be improved on, though, so let us look at what goes into making a really good Google Ads advertisement that achieves a high Ad Rank score, making it easier to get to position number one in the search results for less spend.
I will show you each element of an advertisement first, as this is such a crucial part of the process, then go on to the other factors that you need to be aware of to monitor and improve the performance of your Google AdWords campaign that someone else is managing for you.
Key Components of a Google AdWords Advertisement For Solicitors
The Google AdWords advertisement below features most of the features available to advertisers. Notice how deep the advertisement is: seven lines deep yet you will often see advertisements with only three lines because the advertisers (or the PPC Agency running their Google Ads campaign for them) do not know what they are doing.
Why have a small box advertisement in a newsagent’s window when you could have a billboard?
Features of a Google AdWords advertisement
Imagine you enter a search for “Probate Solicitor” and you are presented with the advertisement in position one above for a new legal brand that has just launched called “The Probateers”.
I have numbered each of the different features within Google AdWords so that you can understand how they work. It is important to ensure that you use every available tool that Google provides for you to take your advertisement as large and effective as possible (and to keep your costs down).
1. YOUR ADVERTISEMENT HEADLINE:
Your headline is split into two parts and you need to use each of them as the Probateers have done here.
Part 1: Specialist Probate Solicitors
Part 2: Probateers Fixed Fee Service
You will notice that they are using capitals at the start of each word (leading capitals) of their advertisement. This is a good thing to do because it increases the click-through rate (CTR). I know this because I have tested it ad nauseam: I have split-tested (tested the variables) the same advertisements with exactly the same wording, one with lower-case lettering and one with leading capitals, and the one with leading capitals always gets more clicks.
This is an important part of Google AdWords; it allows you to continually split-test different advertisements and different elements of a campaign, to see which performs better. It is through this split-testing that you find out what works and what doesn’t.
You don’t have to guess: you can run live tests and your potential clients will tell you which advertisement they prefer by clicking one more than the other. This is how I found out that leading capitals work better than lower case lettering.
You now know that leading capitals throughout your advertisement increase the number of times that someone clicks on your advertisement. Why does this matter? Well, for two main reasons:
- You will receive more clicks on your Google Ads, more visits your website and more phone calls about your services; and
- Your Click Through Rate (CTR) will improve. The CTR is the number of clicks that your advertisement receives for each 100 times that it appears in front of people. Your CTR is a crucial number to monitor for reasons I shall explain now.
For example, if the “Probateers” advertisement here is displayed 100 times, but only clicked on 5 times, it will have a 5% CTR. The higher your CTR, the better your quality score and consequently your ad rank, as outlined in the equation earlier in the chapter.
An average CTR is in the region of 1–2%, but if you have a very good niche legal service or your advertisement content matches the search term entered by the user really closely, you can hit a CTR
of 20% or more. This will give you an excellent ad rank and mean that, as in the examples above, you can reach position one at the same time as bidding less for your keywords to get to that position than your competitors will have done.
2. YOUR WEBSITE DISPLAY ADDRESS:
This is not the address of the page that you are sending someone to, but the address that you choose to show to your potential clients. In other words, it is another opportunity for you to entice people to click through to your website by including the search term that your user has entered into Google.
The Probateers have opted for:
The good part is that they have used a leading capital in the word ‘Probate’, but the bad part is that they have not used all of the available space. They could and should be using the word ‘Solicitor’ in there, as that was part of my search, for example:
The more times someone sees the keywords (the search term) that they entered into Google, the higher the chances that they will click on the advertisement, which will increase the all-important CTR.
3. TELEPHONE HEADING:
You should use the specific telephone extension to be used. It may not lead to a lot of activity because, in my experience, most people will still want to click the advertisement
first to go to your website, but if you are targeting a local audience (which you can do – see later in this section) then a local phone number will resonate with your audience and increase CTR.
4. THE MAIN ADVERTISEMENT CONTENT
When I first started using Google AdWords in 2004, all that was available to you was title, advertisement copy and website address: four lines maximum.
Now the advertisement content is not 50% of the advertisement, as it used to be, taking up two of those original four lines, but it is still very important.
The Probateers have opted for:
Speak to the experts in Probate Law. No obligation enquiries.
Fixed fee service.
They have not used leading capitals all the way through, which needs correcting. I have also always found that using the word ‘free’ at the beginning of this part improves CTR, so I might change their content to this:
Free Call To Experts In Probate Law. No Obligation Enquiries.
Fixed Fee Service.
‘Call-out extensions’ are simple two- or three-word phrases which enable you to feature more reasons why the searcher should click on your advertisement. You should try to include keywords closely linked to the search terms that you are targeting.
6. STRUCTURED SNIPPET EXTENSIONS: These are very similar to call-out extensions, but they are used to detail the services provided. It is another chance to sell someone on to your website and increase your CTR.
7. SITELINK EXTENSIONS: These are one of the more important types of extensions, as they provide you with four more chances to obtain a click-through to your website, by providing links to four other related pages. The key word is ‘related’. You need to link to pages that are related to the main page that you are targeting, in this case ‘probate’.
Here are the Probateers sitelink extensions:
I would ensure that each of them included the word ‘probate’, so would change ‘Client Reviews to ‘Probate Reviews. You might thing that this is overkill, but again, I have tested this and it makes a difference, so it should be done as it will increase CTR.
There is a relatively new element, ‘Message Extensions’, which allows you to include a telephone number so that someone can text you on their mobile or tablet directly from the results screen. I even know some companies that will answer these text messages for you.
The beauty of all of the elements of AdWords advertisements is that you can split- test them constantly to improve their performance. This means that rather than guessing what will work, you use your potential clients to tell you what is working best for them by seeing which combinations provide the best click-through rates for you. I will talk about this more in the next section.
Your keywords are the words that you feature to attract people to your website. In the example above, the words I used to find the Probateers were ‘Probate Solicitors’. These are the keywords that they were targeting, which produced the advertisement for their services.
Keywords are organised into ad groups, which should be a relatively small number of keywords, in the region of 10 to 15. For example, continuing the Probateers’ example, these might be:
- Probate solicitor
- Probate solicitors
- Probate solicitor fees
- Probate solicitor charges
- Probate fixed fee
- Probate solicitor costs
- How much does a solicitor charge for probate
One keyword should not be in that list above. Can you tell which one it is?
‘Probate fixed fee’ is the answer. The reason is that it does not include both the words ‘probate’ and ‘solicitor’, which all of the other keywords do, so the advertisement content should match the keyword being entered.
In the advertisement above, to make it work better for the keyword ‘probate fixed fee’ I would amend the first part of it to include this keyword, for example:
‘Fixed Fee Probate From The Probateers’
You might think that the words ‘fixed fee’ are already there, but putting them at the beginning, so that they are is the first thing the searcher sees, will improve CTR.
Keyword Match Types In Google Ads
One of the biggest mistakes that I see for solicitors with Google Ads is using the wrong match type for keywords. Match types are the method Google uses to determine when it should display your advertisement to searchers. Select the wrong match type and you allow Google to be very liberal when it comes to displaying your advertisements.
Here are the different match types, with Google’s explanation of what they mean:
What is important for you to know is that the first category, broad match, is the one Google defaults to. I call it the ‘throw money away’ keyword match type.
Let me show you an example of how using the ‘broad match’ match type can quickly cost you money that you shouldn’t be spending, using a conveyancing solicitor looking for more instructions as an example.
Broad match keyword: ‘conveyancing solicitor’
Below are examples of searches that might trigger the advertisement, and lead people to click on it, but without generating any instructions, which will cost the advertiser money.
- How do I sue my conveyancing solicitor?
- Conveyancing solicitor jobs
- Conveyancing solicitor salary
None of those searches will ever lead to instructions, so why does Google default to broad match for all new keywords added?
Quite simply, it knows that it will produce a lot of clicks for you very quickly. However, Google then expects you to do the next part, which most business owners do not do, which is to add negative keywords to your campaign to prevent your advertisements showing when these types of terms are entered into the search box.
I take over a lot of Google Ads/PPC campaigns which solicitors have been running themselves and the biggest problem I see is that all their keywords are using ‘broad match’, so they are generating a lot of clicks but not many instructions.
I quickly do two things:
- turn all broad match searches into phrase match searches; and
- add negative keywords for words that they do not want their advertisements to be shown for.
In the example above, the negative keywords I would add would be ‘jobs, ‘salary’, and ‘sue’.
Now, if someone searches for ‘conveyancing solicitor salary’ my client’s advertisement will no longer be presented to them. Perfect.
These two tasks are vitally important, so if you are running a campaign already I suggest that you spend some time checking that you have negative keywords running and that you are not using broad match search terms. The easy way to do this is to look at the ‘search term’ report on a regular basis (ideally weekly).
On my search term report for my own AdWords Campaign:
The Google search term report
Let me talk you through it.
- Choose the date range that you are looking for. I check my account regularly (almost daily) so I usually select Yesterday.
- Select the ‘Keyword’ tab.
- Select ‘Search Terms’, which will now show you all the search terms that actually produced a click through to your website.
- The search term ‘law responsibilities for website design uk’ is not the type of search I am looking for. Therefore, I will tick the square box next to it, then select ‘Add as negative keyword’, importantly, I will delete all of the words except ‘responsibilities’, as this is the only keyword that I do not want to trigger my advertisements – with negative keywords you do want to use ‘broad match’ for your search criteria.
- ‘Wix law firm website’. Wix is a free website design platform that proudly states at the bottom of your website that you have a free website from Wix. It is my firm belief that no solicitor should
have a free website. You are selling a professional service. What does it say about you if you won’t even spend a few pounds on a website?
- ‘Copyright law’ is not a search term that I want to target, so I will add this as a negative exact match, i.e. [copyright law]. By regularly looking at your search term report you will find new keywords that you can add to your campaign (Google will default to broad match, so you must ensure quotation marks are added around the keyword) and negative ones that you add to stop your advertisement being shown when unsuitable search terms are entered.
You can very quickly ensure that your AdWords manager builds you a successful campaign with good keywords simply by following these steps:
- add some modified broad match search terms for your chosen area of law, for example, ‘+conveyancing +solicitor’;
- the checking of your search term report daily, as above, regularly adding new keywords and new negative keywords; and
- ensuring that your keywords are all in small, tightly-focused keyword groups, sending potential prospects to a well-matched landing page on your website.
Let’s look at the third step.
Your Landing Pages
Ideally you should have one landing page for each Google Ad-Words ad group. Remember, I said that an ad group should have around 10–15 keywords within it, all very closely matched.
In the Probateers’ example above, I suggested that one ad group might contain these keywords:
- Probate solicitor
- Probate solicitors
- Probate solicitor fees
- Probate solicitor charges
- Probate solicitor costs
- How much does a solicitor charge for probate
The landing page I would send these people to must have the keywords ‘Probate Solicitor’ in all the following places on that page, which will lead to a better quality score:
- in the title tag;
- in the description tag;
- in the headline on the page;
- in the opening paragraph;
- In the ‘alt’ tags and ‘title’ tags behind the images on the page (there should always be images on the page); and
- the content on the page (without reaching overkill so that the content doesn’t make sense to your readers).
If you have a very low quality score for a keyword, one of the most common reasons is that your landing page does not fulfil these criteria. In the example above, sending the visitor who searches for a ‘probate solicitor’ to a page about ‘Wills, Probate and Trusts’ would result in a low quality score, as the page would not match the search term closely enough, and none of the required six elements above are included.
You might say that the word ‘Probate’ is included, so that should be good enough, but sadly it would not be. As I say, Google Ads is a science with a formula to follow. Follow that formula closely and you achieve great results. If you only half-follow it, you will get average results and spend a lot more money in the process.
For a good Google Ads landing page, it must have your keywords in all six locations listed above and the content has to make sense not only to Google but also to your prospects.
If you are thinking that this mean you need a lot more pages on your website so you can have one for each ad group, you are right. However, you are only changing the six elements above to match the main keywords in each ad group to create your new landing page, so it is largely a copy, paste and edit exercise. For example, while the ad group above targeted ‘Probate Solicitors’, the next ad group might target ‘Probate Lawyers’. This definitely needs a separate landing page, but all you are going to change on that page is the word ‘Solicitors’ to ‘Lawyers’. As I say, it’s copy, paste and edit job, but one that Google will reward you for with a better-quality score, so it’s time well spent.
If you know anything about search engine optimisation, you will know that Google is not a huge fan of ‘duplicate content’, meaning pages which by and large say almost exactly the same thing. In the probate solicitors/probate lawyers example above, both pages will be almost identical. You can quickly get round this by adding some ‘behind the scenes’ code that tells Google to ignore the second ‘probate lawyers’ page. Here is the code:
Your website developer will know where to place it, but if they don’t, it needs to go in the ‘head’ section of your website.
Good landing pages are vital as a part of your AdWords campaign, so make sure that each AdWords group is going to a landing page that matches the search terms within that group.
As well as these core elements of a successful Google AdWs campaign, there are some other elements which are useful to know and understand.
These are found within your ‘Settings’ tab when you are inside Google AdWords.
Type Of Google Adwords Campaign
Make sure you select right option here.
Once inside your Google AdWords campaign, from the central navigation select ‘Settings’ then ‘All settings’ to discover the features below.
‘Search network only – All features’ is the one to go for: other choices are video and the display network. My experience is that for now ‘search network’ is by far the most effective performer and
where you should focus your efforts. Video marketing just doesn’t work for law firms (sorry – legal services are just not exciting enough!), and though display marketing (banner advertising) can
work to some extent, nothing beats AdWords search marketing. As most of my clients regularly exceed their set monthly budget to spend on Google AdWords, I would rather they limited themselves to having the results displayed on Google search pages only than waste money on less effective advertising.
I suggest you use only Google Search and even exclude Google Search partners. Again, in my experience, this is the most effective option. Everything else is less effective, and as most solicitors run out of budget each month, you need to focus on the places where you will get the best results.
Set this to ‘all’ to target all devices, unless you have a website which is not mobile responsive, in which case you should just choose ‘desktop’, but if you do not have a mobile responsive law firm website now you will be missing out on a lot of new client enquiries.
You can choose to target geographically by choosing a whole country,town or county, or you can target within a radius of your offices, for example, 20 or 30 miles. You should select radius targeting if looking for local clients.
You should also make a selection from within the location settings.
Choosing Location Settings
Under ‘Location options’ select ‘advanced’ then under ‘Target’ choose ‘People in, searching for or who show interest in my targeted location’.
This advanced targeting means that anyone searching or showing an interest in your area but located geographically outside of it will see your advertisements.
For example, someone who works in central London but lives in Ashford, Kent, would, if they searched for an ‘Ashford Solicitor’ while at work, still see your advertisements even though they were not searching from your target location.
Whilst I used to recommend that your AdWords agency uses manual bidding, Google’s AI is getting better. You now have to experiment with all options, from manual bidding, to Enhanced CPC or Maximise Clicks to see which produces the best results for you. You can only discover these by testing, so if you are not generating enough clients, ask your Adwords Agency to try different bidding strategies.
This is where you set your daily budget for your Google AdWords spend. If you want to spend £500 a month, divide this sum by 30 days to set your daily budget.
I choose ‘Accelerated’ delivery. This means that your advertisements are displayed until your daily budget limit is reached. See ‘budget tipping point’ later, on how to over-ride this if you can
Options in ‘advanced settings’
You can schedule advertisements to run at different times of the day or to exclude weekends, but I suggest you let your advertisements run 24/7 at first. If you consistently find that your advertisements do not work on Sunday from 7 PM you could change this, but my experience suggests that you will lose instructions that you would otherwise have received.
In addition to this, by not running all the time you will miss clicks, and your overall quality score may well be lower as you keep dipping in and out of the market, making it harder to achieve consistent results.
Ad delivery, ad rotation
My Google representative always wants me to let Google rotate my advertisements to optimise conversions. She tells me that Google knows best and so I should let them run the advertisements that convert more visitors into people filling in enquiry forms. It is a good theory, but whenever I have done this I have not seen any improvement in volume or quantity that makes me believe Google controls this process better than a human.
I always choose ‘rotate indefinitely’ for my own and my clients’ advertisements so that I can see, manually, which advertisements are working best, by which I mean which advertisements have the highest CTR. Once I know that, I can pause the worst advertisement and rewrite a new one to try to beat the current best performer’s CTR. More on this shortly.
Your Role in an AdWords Campaign
Now that you know the basic elements of a campaign, how do you manage an agency running a campaign for you? What do you need to do to check that they are doing a good job for you?
Well, the beauty is that AdWords really is a numbers game. At a glance, you can see not only how well AdWords is performing, but more importantly, how many clients you have generated and how much that has produced for you in terms of fees.
Tracking Your Numbers
You absolutely must track your numbers; remember, what gets measured gets better. If you do not know how much work and how much income are being generated by an AdWords campaign, how can you know if you should keep on doing it? Quite simply, you can’t.
So you must definitely measure the returns from your Google AdWords campaign. You should be looking for a minimum of a 3 to 1 return on your investment, so if you spend £1,000 a month, you want it to generate at least £3,000 in fees. If you can start at that point, you can improve that return over time as your AdWords campaign matures and improves. I have clients that regularly exceed a 10 to 1 return on investment.
Obviously, some legal matters bring in fees faster, so you have to consider your cash flow, but if you can start at a 3 to 1 return on investment, you will be making money and you should continue to run your AdWords campaign.
Two things need restating here:
- You need to ask every new prospect how they found you so that you can trace it back to your AdWords campaign. Will your receptionist do this properly? In my experience, no, which is why I
recommend that you use a call centre that will ensure their staff ask the question and complete an enquiry form for each call they handle. This will enable you to measure the return from your AdWords campaign accurately. You can even use a different telephone number on your website and only divert those calls to the call centre, as a starting point to test the process out.
- You must track these enquiries through to conversion. Of course, you will be doing this already, having read Chapter 4, but when it comes to AdWords, it is vital. You must know your numbers. If you are spending £1,000 a month, how much is it making you? If you are spending £5,000 a month (yes, some solicitors do), then you have to know that it is working for you. If you are spending over £10,000 a month (yes, many solicitors do, and more too) then you have to know that it is providing you with a return on investment.
If your immediate reaction was to flinch when seeing the numbers above, I believe that will be for one of two reasons.
- You are a smaller firm and are barely billing more than £10,000 a month, so spending that amount would bankrupt you. Don’t worry; you wouldn’t need to spend that much. If you are in this position and are looking to move from being a £10,000-a-month firm to a £20,000-a-month firm then your spend will probably need to be between £1,000 to £1,500 to make this happen.
- Until now, you have never really measured the returns from your marketing, so the thought of spending that much money on any aspect of it scares you. Now that you have the law firm growth formula in your hands, though, this is going to change – if you are serious about growing your law firm, that is. A serious law firm owner knows their current position, where they want to be, and they measure every single step of the journey to reach their destination. As I always say, What gets measured gets better.
Measure Your Performance
If your first job is to measure the return from your spend, your second job is to measure your Google Pay Per Click campaign performance figures and to keep on top of your AdWords Agency to ensure that these numbers keep on working in your favour.
So, what do these numbers look like? Let’s take a look at a simple Google AdWords report showing the core numbers. These are my own numbers; not surprisingly, my clients like to keep their numbers to themselves, but the only thing that is important is for you to see the numbers, so I can explain what questions you should be asking and what results you should be expecting.
There is actually a simple lesson within a lesson here. You see, I know that some of my competitors will buy and read this book. They will see my figures below and believe that having this information will enable them to do exactly what I do to generate a lovely client book of really nice law firm owners. It doesn’t worry me. They might have some baseline figures, but that’s all they know. They can’t see or hear the conversations that I have with my clients or the private emails we send. Generally, I find, a lot of law firm owners are scared or even terrified of sharing information with one another. In my experience, sharing usually only leads to mutual benefits, so I strongly urge you to share away.
Here is a chart showing my last few months’ activity on Google AdWords:
Google Adwords reporting for law firms
If I was managing myself as a supplier – and I do – here are the questions that I would want to be asking.
Q Why did the average position of my advertisement drop from Q1.7 to 2.4 in October?
Remember, there are four AdWords spaces available at the top of the search results. I want to be in position one more often than not.
In my case, above, I know it was because in those two months I experimented with a lot more keywords , which is why I also spent more. But if you are not in average positions 1 or 2, you need to find out why and ask your AdWords people to work to make that happen.
How? As detailed above, it is all down to the ad rank formula.
SMALL KEYWORD GROUPS: Another reason why my average position might have changed is if my keywords were not in small, tightly-connected ad groups. Are they in groups of 10 to 15 keywords?
If there are many more, keep the 10 or 15 that are most closely matched and start a new ad group that covers the new keywords.
In my example, there are 13 keywords within the ad group, so I am not breaking any of my own rules (phew).
Here are a few of them, so that you can follow the thread.
Key words on an ad group
The main keyword is ‘marketing’, and the word ‘law firm’ also appears, so I need to bear this in mind when looking at the next two parts.
Are your suppliers regularly split-testing the advertisement copy to see what works best, then rewriting the copy that doesn’t work so well? Here is an example of me split-testing two advertisements against each other, so you can see how this looks within AdWords:
Both advertisements feature the core keywords of ‘law firm’ and ‘marketing’, which is crucial.
You can see that one advertisement is achieving a CTR of 5.43% (5.43 clicks through to my site for every 100 times it has been shown – Impr, or impressions). This is clearly beating the advertisement
that I am running against it. However, notice that the second advertisement has only been shown 44 times, so I will leave it to run until it has been shown at least 100 times, but usually between 500 to 1000 times. This is a big enough test volume to prove that what you are seeing is not just a fluke.
You should also run through this same process with your sitelink, call-out and snippet extensions, as increasing CTRs for these extensions also improves your overall performance, quality score, and ad rank and lowers costs. I won’t go through every one of these, as it is exactly the same process as for changing your main advertisement content, but I wanted to ensure that you look at them too.
LANDING PAGE REVIEW:
Does the landing page that your prospects are being sent to closely match the search terms entered? Continuing my example above, here is the content from the page that people
clicking one of my two advertisements are sent to:
How could this page be improved? Look at it with a totally critical eye and make a note of a few things that could be changed to make it match the keywords and advertisements in question better.
Now let me show you the revised page and talk you through the changes.
By making two simple changes – adding the keywords ‘law firm’ and ‘marketing’ to the title on the page and beneath my photograph – I have improved the relevance of the page and my quality score. This in turn will improve my ad rank and allow me to return to the top position for a lower spend than my competitors.
These are the things that you need to ask your AdWords administrator to do if you are not hitting the top position or if your costs are rising (or both).
Q Why were there only four conversions in January, compared with 21 in December and 17 in February?
Conversions represent people taking the action that you want them to take. In my case a conversion is someone completing the request for my free guide and landing on my ‘thank you’ page. I have placed a piece of AdWords tracking code on this page, and each time someone lands on it the code triggers a conversion.
The most common reasons for a drop in conversions could be:
- the tracking code not working (this happens quite a lot and is exactly what did happen on my website in January);
- receiving a lower number of clicks. This is not the case in my example, as there were 271 clicks for four conversions in January, compared with 183 clicks for 17 conversions in February;
- the average cost per click jumping up, either because someone else has entered my market space or my ad rank has dropped for the other reasons outlined above. Again, this is not the case with my example but I want to point out the options so that you can ask the right questions of your AdWords agency.
Q Why did the click-through rate drop in November?
The CTR rate is a really important figure, so seeing it drop in November would be a concern. However, as I mentioned above, I was experimenting with a lot of new ad groups, and with keywords that were not as focused as my usual ones. Once I had gone through this phase, the CTR went back up to figures heading towards 3%. This is an average – remember one of the CTRs above was over 5% – but watching the averages is usually enough to give you a warning that there is something amiss.
The Budget Tipping Point
It is worth mentioning what I call the ‘budget tipping point’. You will often find that Google tells you that your budget is limited. If you are capping your spend at £30 a day, roughly £900 a month,
Google might suggest that your campaign is ‘Limited by budget’ in nice orange letters.
You can even click a chart and it will show you what might happen if you increase your daily cap, as below.
The only point I want to mention here is that if your budget is limited, in other words you are often spending more than your daily budget amount, you may well miss visitors who would turn into clients.
When you increase your budget to such an extent that you receive all available clicks (only do this when you have been running an efficient campaign for some time), then you can find that by doubling your budget you may actually receive triple the enquiries, making it even more profitable. I believe this happens because some prospects will return to your website two or three times before making contact with you, so when your budget runs out part-way through the day, these prospects do not find your advertisement or website the second or third time. Once you increase your budget, they no longer have any trouble finding you.
This, alongside the fact that everyone now searching for your keywords will find you because you are omnipresent, is why I believe that this ‘budget tipping point’ exists.
Running an AdWords campaign is a science. You cannot be expected to learn that science and run your law firm, but you can now I hope, with what is contained in this article, know which questions to ask to ensure that your campaign is working as hard as it possibly can for you.
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