Over a decade ago, lawyer marketing still focused on purchasing yellow page ads to get foot traffic. Today, there is no way around digital marketing, including PPC for lawyers. In this article, we will examine what PPC is for lawyers, how PPC stacks up against Lawyer SEO and content marketing, the pros and cons of PPC for law firms, the challenges to PPC, and some strategies for the best PPC marketing.
What is PPC for Lawyers?
As online marketers for lawyer websites, the law firms we do work for are always looking for the best bang for their advertising buck. Many of our clients ask us what they should do when they think they’re not getting enough leads from their website. Should they engage in PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising, or should they focus on content marketing to drive inbound leads? In this article, I compare both forms of online marketing for attorneys and declare the winner!
Online Marketing for Lawyers – Outside In vs. Inside Out
Before we compare SEO and content marketing vs. PPC campaigns, it’s helpful to understand the fundamental difference that separates these two forms of online marketing. SEO and content marketing is “inside-out” while PPC is “outside-in.” PPC is “outside-in” marketing because you are creating marketing material on other platforms, such as Google Adwords, to drive traffic to your law firm’s website. SEO and content marketing are “inside-out” because you are encouraging traffic to your law firm’s website by developing marketing material directly on the site itself.
Is PPC for Lawyers Better than Lawyer SEO & Content Marketing?
The Pros of Lawyer SEO & Content Marketing
Fuels Relationships – First, let’s take a look at the pros of content marketing for attorneys. Content marketing aims to educate and inform your audience while addressing common questions and issues relevant to your law firm’s practice areas. For example, a criminal defense attorney could benefit from publishing an article about “what to do when you’re arrested.” The audience’s engagement with your content can fuel relationships, so that website traffic inbound from that article turns into highly qualified leads.
SEO Boost – There is an added bonus to developing good content for your law firm’s website. When your content gets shared, these inbound links single to Google that your articles have a degree of authority. From an SEO standpoint, the more authority, the more your articles are likely to be visible in search engine results.
Evergreen Content – One last “pro” to add to the list is the evergreen nature of the content. There is no ongoing investment aside from the time or the financial investment to create content and the cost of hosting your site. Once your content is out on the internet, it stays out indefinitely.
The Cons of SEO & Content Marketing for Lawyers
Although I use the term “con,” I like to think of it more as a “challenge” to SEO and content marketing. That being said, effective SEO and content marketing require an investment of thought, time, and a distribution strategy.
Time & Effort – For starters, developing quality content takes time and effort (unless you are outsourcing your content writing). Before I write an article, I think about topics that may interest our site’s visitors. I wonder what questions or issues our audience may have, and I keep a running list of topics to blog about. As for time, I spent time researching this topic, writing the article, proofreading it (which I am not always good at), adding the meta title and description, choosing a relevant image, and posting it to JustLegal’s site. In all, I invested about an hour or so of my time. Afterward, I may invest several more hours distributing the content as discussed next.
Plan for Distribution – Developing a good plan for content marketing includes the distribution of your content. For example, your distribution should include social sharing on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, simply sharing your content on social media isn’t enough. To encourage followers to share and engage, you need to reciprocate by taking the time to engage with your followers by sharing similar content, commenting on their shares, and replying to those who comment on your posts.
Tracking Performance Takes Effort – Unlike PPC advertising, tracking the performance of your keyword and phrases, conversion rates, and ROI takes a bit more time, effort, and know-how. Essentially, tracking conversions and ROI requires some understanding of how to use a tool such as Google Analytics to analyze factors such as search traffic, direct traffic, referral traffic, bounce rates, site flow, and many other factors.
Lack of Immediacy – There is one other challenge worth mentioning. Essentially, the payoff for SEO and content marketing may not be as immediate as running a PPC campaign. Depending on SEO factors, your website’s structure and optimization, and other factors, search engines such as Google may or may not show your content for search results. Some of our clients believe that it takes Google weeks or months to rank content after it is posted, and that’s simply not true. If you follow good SEO practices, your post can be indexed and appear in search within days.
The Takeaway of Content Marketing for Lawyers
- Pros: Qualified leads, SEO boost, evergreen content
- Cons: Time and labor-intensive, requires distribution strategy, effort to track performance, gains take time
Pay-Per-Click Advertising for Lawyers
The Pros of PPC Advertising for Lawyers
Instant Gratification – The first thing that comes to mind as a “pro” for PPC ads is the instant gratification you’ll receive. You’ll get top placement immediately if your ads are set up and maintained properly. What’s more, you’ll get leads more quickly than with content marketing. Additionally, PPC ads can be created and distributed rapidly. Precise Targeting – With PPC ads, you can target your audience and the geographic locations of your ads with near pinpoint precision. For your law firm, you can pre-qualify your site’s traffic based on your location or other factors to make sure you are driving the right people to your site. Easy to Track Performance – With a PPC campaign, you can immediately track the performance of your keyword and phrases, which ads bring in the most traffic, conversion rates, and ROI. Compare this to content marketing, where results can take months to determine, and changes can take weeks to implement. Levels the Playing Field – Lastly, PPC advertising can level lawyers’ online marketing playing field. Even if you’re a solo practitioner, you can still compete online with the “big” firms.
The Cons of PPC Advertising for Lawyers
PPC Costs – Paid ads can seem very enticing for lawyers because you can control your budget and how much you spend per click. However, don’t let anyone fool you – PPC campaigns can be costly. Unlike searches for other products and searches, the term “attorney” is the 4th most expensive keyword in Google Ads. Even for a well-optimized campaign, I commonly see attorneys paying anywhere from $40 to over $100 per click depending on their location and the practice areas they promote. Not Evergreen – PPC is the marketing equivalent of crack cocaine. Once you’re on it, it’s tough to get off of it. When PPC works, it’s hard to justify reducing your law firm’s PPC budget to fund new marketing approaches such as content marketing that may prove less effective in the short run but will drive ROI in the long run. Set-Up & Optimization – I’ve seen many examples of poorly run PPC ads for lawyers such as criminal lawyers showing up for family law attorney searches or lawyers’ ads showing up in geographic location searches that are well outside of their market area. Running a successful campaign is an art that requires knowledge about creating a relevant landing page for the ad, choosing the proper keywords and terms, proper use of Adwords extensions, use of negative keywords to filter out irrelevant searches, and many more factors. If you decide to run a PPC campaign, consider doing what you do best – practicing law – and hire a company specializing in running ad word campaigns for lawyers.
The Takeaway of PPC Advertising for Attorneys
- Pros: Immediate results, precise targeting, easy tracking of performance, levels the marketing playing field
- Cons: Costs can be high for lawyers, not evergreen, challenging set-up and optimization
Which Wins? Content Marketing or PPC Advertising?
The answer is – both are winners in their own right. Obviously, each has its pros and cons, but those pros and cons are unique to each form of marketing. For example, you can focus solely on content marketing, but be prepared to be patient waiting for the results. The long-term payoff from content marketing is much greater than PPC, but it takes time. Likewise, you can focus solely on PPC ads but be prepared for a long-term investment if you don’t plan to develop any content. In all, based on the difference between “inside out” vs. “outside-in” marketing, I recommend a “one-two” combination of content and PPC to market your law firm online.
Challenges to PPC marketing for lawyers
There are two key areas where paid search marketing has its challenges. It requires a dedicated law marketing agency’s experienced, qualified, and proven expertise like JustLegal to overcome these challenges.
Challenge #1: Tough Competition
While Google makes it easy to promote your legal services, everyone is fighting for the top spot in search engine results pages (SERPs). Your competition is already bidding on the exact keywords and key phrases, and they all hope to get significant returns, and this means that the keyword prices will go up.
Challenge #2: Finding Qualified Searchers
Many attorneys practice in specialized areas of law, and this means they practice only under specific scenarios. For example, some attorneys handle only severe injury cases where the returns are very high. This point makes it difficult for lawyers to find qualified searchers. You have to be very specific with your demographic targeting process on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
The Basics of a Law Firm PPC Marketing Campaign
PPC marketing is simply the fastest way for you to generate high-quality leads. PPC is different from search engine optimization in that it helps drive results almost instantly. Your website and brand will start appearing on websites and for the specific keywords that you are targeting. Legal services make a highly competitive and costly segment when it comes to digital marketing. So, it is essential to plan your PPC campaigns carefully and professionally. We will begin the guide by sharing the nine crucial tips for building and managing your PPC marketing campaigns. This will be followed by five innovative strategies to get the most out of it and get ahead of the competition.
1. Set Your Marketing Goals
Any law firm’s marketing plan aims to grow your client base. However, you should be more specific when it comes to paid search campaigns. For example, you should set a goal to generate 20 more leads every month or close eight new clients by the end of this quarter. When you set clear and fixed goals for each campaign, it will pave the path for success.
2. Research Your Potential Clients
You must know which audience to target before a PPC advertising campaign can be set up. Your research should focus on:
- Determining who your prospective clients are
- Where they are located
- Their potential income
- Their challenges and pain points
- Their interests
A professional service will gather this information in several ways, including:
- Using surveys and research to collect client data. The data type collected includes location, average age, time zone, average annual income, language, interests, marital status, challenges, and interests.
- Competition analysis, the audience they are targeting, and the methods.
- The social media channels that your audience uses and the type of content they engage with the most.
3. Type of Advertising Technique
Researching your target audience will provide you with crucial information. You will know who they are, where they spend more of their time online, and what your competition is doing. This information is then used to select the correct advertising technique to reach them. When it comes to law firms, display ads and search ads on Google Ads provide the best results.
4. Build Landing Pages
The landing page is one of the essential elements of an effective PPC marketing campaign. Whenever someone clicks on your ad, they are directed to this landing page, where you have an excellent opportunity to engage with them. An excellent landing page is both focused and streamlined around the interest already shown by the prospect.
5. Choose the Most Important Keywords
Most law firms will usually target an audience in their local areas. So, your PPC campaigns should use keywords targeting the desired locations. Once you have selected the right keywords, start bidding on them.
6. Set Your PPC Budget
Once you have selected and bid on the keywords, you will be required to set your daily or monthly ad budget. Keep the following points in mind:
- Setting your budget allows you to keep control over your ad spend
- When starting with PPC advertising, start small and track your ads’ performance for the first month
- When the results are promising, grow your ad budget
- When the results are not as per expectations, your ad campaign should be adjusted
This is followed by regular performance monitoring and making adjustments to your PPC campaigns.
Advanced PPC Marketing Strategies for Law Firms
While most law firms and their agencies will follow the above-mentioned essential tips, you should go a few steps further to stand out and succeed.
1. Differentiate Your Law Practice
How can you differentiate your practice and stand out from your competition?
- Create an actionable and highly relevant call to action (CTA) that stimulate your searches to act instantly
- Implement as many ad extensions to cover as much real estate on your SERPs
- Research your competition’s extensions and improve yours
- Use location, site link, call, review, and callout extensions
It is recommended to highlight everything that makes your law firm better. You may be offering a free consultation or something else your competition doesn’t.
2. Use the Correct Geotargeting
It is interesting that despite its importance to PPC advertising, many law firms and their agencies target irrelevant locations. For example, many law firms will target an entire state when they have only one office servicing a certain part of the state. Keep in mind that your average client will want to find a specialized attorney near them. So when geotargeting your ads, make sure to follow these tips:
- Consider the radius of the area that is most suitable for you to advertise in
- If you have more than one office, create separate campaigns for each and target the appropriate locations
- Google Ads allows you to target by region, city, postal code, or even radius
3. Calls to Action Should be of the Highest Priority
When it comes to PPC marketing for law firms, calls are perhaps the most critical CTA mode. This means mobile search is an important platform. Mobile search has already grown bigger than desktop search. Your law marketer must create a system to capture phone calls, whether they originate in call-only mobile ads or desktop landing pages. Some leads are down the sales funnel looking for ways to talk directly and instantly to an attorney. It is recommended to use these tips in PPC advertising to generate more phone calls to your legal office:
- Set up & run call-only PPC campaigns
- Use call extensions
- Track all your calls
- Set up a 24/7 answering service
4. Create Ads & Landing Pages that Speak to the Search Intent
There’s an adage in advertising — good advertising makes bad products or services fail faster. When the product or service doesn’t live up to the hype, consumers quickly become disenchanted which drives negative word-of-mouth. The same principle holds true for any form of online marketing you do for your law firm. Essentially, no matter how good your marketing may be, a poorly designed website will discourage your site’s visitors from converting into clients. If your site’s visitors become lost and frustrated with your site, then they will decide your firm isn’t worth the effort when the competition is just a click away. When someone searches “how can a DUI lawyer help me?” you are more likely to get their business if your ad answers their question or takes them to an informative page related and answers their question. When someone searches for “I need a personal injury attorney,” your ad can promise ‘greater compensation’ to have them call or click through. Relevance is significant to law service marketing. You cannot afford to pay for clicks at the wrong point in a client’s journey. So, what steps can be taken to stand out:
- Make sure your ads, keywords, and landing pages are streamlined with the searcher’s intent
- Develop quality content to nurture your audience for brand loyalty
5. Leverage the Power of Video
As an attorney, it is essential to find a way to gain the trust of your lead. You will have to convince them before they can become covert. To your potential client, there is a lot that is at stake against your word. Video is a powerful content type to gain this trust. A law firm can create videos of its attorneys explaining the process. They can also explain what they do – all without a sales pitch. Create video testimonials involving your past clients. Let your target audience see other people similar to themselves. Video landing pages have been found to help boost conversion rates.
6. Use Display Ads & Build a Brand
As a law firm or lawyer working on cases, building a brand can be an overwhelming challenge. With all the competition in your niche legal area, branding can play a significant role in helping your stand out. Display ads are more affordable and play an essential role in helping build a brand. The average cost per click of these ads is much lower than that for search ads. Interestingly, most legal marketing efforts ignore the importance of display ads despite their affordability. When you have a well-known brand, it becomes easier to stand out in your SERPs. You can target your target audience by using remarketing and showing ads to those who have already visited your website.
How Can JustLegal Help?
From the above guide, you must have insight into the complexity and vastness of PPC marketing. PPC advertising for law firms is even more challenging. At JustLegal, we specialize in digital marketing services and solutions for law firms and attorneys. Our PPC advertising services are focused on increasing your legal practice’s visibility and leads. We specialize in Google Ads, helping our clients reach the top of their SERPs using the proven paid search platform. PPC is a quick and effective way to get your target audience. Our experienced and qualified digital marketing team develops campaigns that help prospective target clients searching for your legal services. We know what it takes to optimize your advertising ROI. From managing your new campaigns to taking over your existing ad campaigns, we can help your law firm achieve the desired results and stand out from the crowd. Whether you provide your services in one state, one area of a state, or across multiple locations, we can help you reach your target audience. For more information about our PPC marketing services for law firms or other digital marketing services, contact us today.