Understanding the Details of Law Firm Pay-per-click

There’s one fact most law firms know — you need pay-per-click advertising to effectively reach people looking for an attorney. That’s because most legal consumers start their journey to find the right lawyer by searching for keywords or key phrases in Google or Bing. When they perform a search for a key phrase, such as “car accident lawyer in Chicago,” the search results they see are topped by PPC advertisements. And those advertisements are most likely to capture the attention – and the business – of the consumer.

If you’ve run any PPC advertising before, you know how important it is to bid on the right legal keywords. But too often, law firms believe that the most successful PPC competitor is always the highest bidder. But in fact, bids are one of many important factors search engines consider when determining whose ads will capture the most coveted spots on the results page.

Looking specifically at Google, the advertisements that land on those top spots get there by achieving the highest Ad Rank, a holistic measurement Google uses to determine which ads will deliver the best possible experience to users.

Ad Rank

Google’s Ad Rank measurement determines where in a user’s search results a law firm’s ad will appear. When someone searches for an attorney in your area, Google places ads on the top and the bottom of each page of the results. There can be up to four paid ads on the top of the page, above the organic and local search results, and up to three ads below, depending on the popularity of the keywords and the ads Google can choose from.

In addition to keyword bids, Ad Rank considers the quality of your ads and landing pages, your use of ad extensions, the context of each user’s search and whether you’ve met certain minimum thresholds, all before your ad is shown. By focusing on individual factors of Ad Rank other than bid, you can increase your PPC ROI without necessarily increasing your budget.

What are ad extensions?

Your goal is to produce advertisements that demonstrate value and relevance to your prospect’s search query. Ad extensions are a component of your advertisement that can make it even more relevant or actionable to legal consumers. In Google’s own words, ad extensions “expand your ad with additional information—giving people more reasons to choose your business.” They appear alongside ads as helpful extras, such as clickable phone numbers, addresses and sitelinks (links to additional pages of your site that may be more useful), as you can see below:

Notice how the first PPC ad has a fuller bio along with a link to their office address and their “About Us” and “Our Attorneys” pages. Google considers this a more robust ad that provides valuable information a searcher may need. Those extensions factored into the Ad Rank, and the combination of factors that went into the measurement landed it in the coveted first slot on the search results page.

Focus on your landing page

Google wants to provide the best user experience when they offer up an ad to a searcher. A good user experience isn’t complete without a top-notch landing page — the page your ad takes users to — that directly reflects the user’s initial search.

Let’s say a consumer is searching for a motorcycle accident attorney. The last thing you want to do is run an ad about your services as a motorcycle accident attorney and then take consumers to your website homepage, which broadly communicates that your firm takes everything from criminal defense to bankruptcy cases. That creates extra work for the consumer to find the information they wanted in the first place. Make it easy on them instead. Take them directly to the page most relevant to the keyword they searched, and you’ll ensure you provide a good user experience.

PPC: Always on

PPC is one of the most effective ways of promoting your firm in search engines, but it’s often seen as a temporary fix while firms build up their organic visibility. That’s a mistake. While organic performance should be a top priority of any digital marketing strategy, you’ll get the best bang for your buck when you diversify.

Why? Because studies show that when you shut down your PPC efforts, your organic traffic won’t fully make up for those lost ad clicks. Instead, you’ll just make it easier for your competitor to capture what used to be your future clients.

A better marketing strategy leverages both paid and organic tactics as part of a long-term plan to capture the most search engine visibility for your law firm. So instead of thinking of PPC as a short-term boost while you wait for your organic efforts to pay off, take advantage of the hard work you’ve already put into maximizing your PPC ROI, and keep those ads running for the long term.

The complexities of PPC advertising can be hard to navigate effectively if you’re new to the paid search landscape. Fortunately, FindLaw’s experts can help you understand both the art and science that goes into successfully capturing the attention of your next client.

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