Google AdWords For Lawyers: 17 Ways To Skyrocket Your AdWords Performance

I’m sure you’ll be nodding when I say that generating results from lawyer AdWords campaigns remains something of a mystery to many law firms.

Most firms know the importance of AdWords. They know that ads are increasingly dominating the search results pages. They know how paid traffic can effectively supplement SEO’s organic traffic. And they hear about the type of results that others get.

So why do they never seem to achieve these results for their own firm?

Well, firstly, it’s pretty competitive. “Lawyer” and “attorney” are two of the most expensive keywords you’ll find. At hundreds of dollars per click, the AdWords bill can rapidly spiral into tens of thousands of dollars per month.

Secondly, I don’t know many lawyers who aren’t almost permanently busy on one thing or another. That leaves precious little time to brush up on anything that doesn’t directly involve legal cases; so the rather involved and complex world of AdWords often gets outsourced and forgotten about.

Thirdly, campaigns simply aren’t optimized.

But make no mistake about it: AdWords alone has the potential to significantly grow your law firm.

Up to 80% of search results now contain AdWords ad placements …and these are covering as much as 85% of the space above the fold on the results page.


Results won’t come without some understanding of the basics, though. You need to know how to get a good deal from AdWords… and ensure that those in charge are managing it the right way.

What if I told you that an hour of your time now could mean that you will improve your AdWords results permanently in the future?

That means targeting the right customers and optimizing campaign so that they generate leads.

How would that help your law firm?

You don’t need to understand every AdWords technique but it helps to learn enough to know that you’re doing the right things and not throwing the marketing budget away on strategies that don’t work.

I’ve saved you ploughing through countless articles with general AdWords tips that may not apply to you or that you knew already; instead, I’ve distilled all the best tips down from observations about what works with our own clients. The result? 17 specific ways to get better results…

Follow these tips and I can guarantee that you will start to see better returns from your next AdWords campaign: more quality leads through the door.

Snapshot: How you’ll improve your AdWords performance

By the end of the article, you will have a far more complete understanding of:

  • What AdWords for lawyers is and how it works
  • Specific actions you can take to make AdWords campaigns more effective
  • Best practice use of keywords
  • Making the most of the bidding process
  • How to write more effective ads and landing pages
  • How to geo-target for local traffic
  • How to use testing to improve results
  • How to measure and monitor results more effectively
  • The questions you need to ask before outsourcing AdWords


This will give you a definite edge on much of your competition. I can guarantee you that most law firms are NOT following the right strategies with AdWords.

This means there are plenty of gaps for you to step in, take their traffic, and grow your firm.

The tips below will help you exploit these gaps. But first, a brief overview of where AdWords currently stands in 2017… and how it works.

Adwords in 2017

Unless you have kept on top of developments in AdWords and, in particular in AdWords for lawyers, you may still be operating in the past.

AdWords never stands still – as you may expect with one of Google’s main profit generators. AdWords helps to power the massive juggernaut that is Google so you’d expect it to keep developing to stay ahead of the curve.

Back in 2000, when Google started firing up its advertising engines with something called its ‘Self-Service Advertising Program.’ This soon started generating billions; and today it’s not simply text and image ads. Product listing ads and in-video ads on YouTube are more recent innovations that increase user engagement, as are in-app mobile ads.

AdWords provides more ways than ever of reaching your potential clients – either those within a few kilometres of your office or across the other side of the country.

The law profession is slow to optimize this potential. Part of the reason is that it AdWords campaigns are not ‘set and forget’ – getting a campaign right can be complex and involve considerable research, experimentation, measurement, and tweaking. It needs to be closely monitored so that it doesn’t eat into the marketing budget and starts producing the leads you need.

Things used to be simpler. For instance, in the early days of AdWords, you could bid for any keyword, no matter how relevant it was to your business.

Then Google introduced the Quality Score, which considers several factors to determine relevance to the associated search term.

Insert image about quality score

Each keyword has its own Quality Score – even two keywords within the same Ad Group (which I explain below).

Factors taken into account by Google include:

Relevance of each keyword – if somebody is searching for “divorce lawyers Calgary”, a keyword “divorce law Calgary” is more relevant than “family law Calgary”
Click-through rate (CTR) – based on historical data, Google will forecast your CTR: a higher rate suggests your ad and keyword relevance is better than those with a lower CTR as more people are clicking through
Account history – this is where Google assesses your overall credibility
Understanding this side of AdWords is important.

Ultimately, running a successful AdWords campaign in 2017 will come down to targeting the right keywords, writing professional ads and landing pages, and testing/measuring/ monitoring results.

AdWords for lawyers: The 17 key tips

Now let’s get into the tips. General tips like ‘make sure you do your research’ are not much use to you.

This post assumes that you know that already. It also assumes that you have done (or are in the process of doing) the following important actions:

  • Set up a Google AdWords account already – we don’t cover how to do that in this post but you can find out here, if not
  • Set aside a realistic budget to fund your AdWords campaigns
  • Checked out the competition’s strategies (don’t obsess with it though!)
  • Basic research on the keywords being used by other firms in your local area
  • Defined precisely who your target audience is
  • Taken other marketing action to help develop your law firm ‘brand’
  • Determined the unique selling points of your law firm
  • Hired professional copywriters for compelling ad copy and landing pages that speak to searchers’ intent and readiness to ‘buy’
  • Do some basic tracking and measuring of your marketing campaigns

Right, that’s out of the way. Below are the 17 specific, actionable tips for improving your AdWords performance…

1. Focus on long tail keywords, not just head terms

Forget “lawyer” and “attorney”. These single-word, ‘head’ terms are astronomically priced and only the biggest firms can afford to compete in that arena.

Being too general on AdWords is a costly business. But there are plenty of other opportunities to exploit with keywords.

The focus should be on long tail keywords and ‘body’ keywords, which incorporate more than just a single word.

You may recall the three basic categories of keyword from our Definitive Guide to SEO for Lawyers

1.) Head Keywords: single-word general terms with high competition, like ‘lawyers’
2.) Body Keywords: 2-3 word phrases attracting a good search volume but more specific than head keywords – like ‘family law firms’
3.) Long Tail Keywords: 4+ word phrases that are very specific, such as ‘divorce finance lawyers in Calgary’

In our aforementioned SEO guide you can also find plenty of tips for coming up with body and long tail keywords.

By targeting long tail keywords, you ensure that you are being as specific as possible. This makes it more likely that you’ll attract potential clients interested in your specific services, rather than general ‘browsers’. It may also make the terms you are competing for more attainable, rather than the main head keywords that everyone shoots for.

So think specific. Think niche. Think buyer intent. Think of the practice areas that generate the most revenue for you.

You know the Google Keyword Planning tool. While it is often used for more general SEO use, it was intended by Google for AdWords users and this can really help you nut out the keywords you should be targeting.

When considering buyer intent, consider the difference between “DUI Calgary” and “DUI lawyer Calgary”.

Which keyword should you target with AdWords?

For those who shouted out “DUI lawyer Calgary” – well done! It’s the correct answer because it suggests buyer intent.

If you’re looking for a lawyer, it means there may be an immediate requirement to hire one. If you’re searching for “DUI Calgary” you might be looking for statistics on the number of DUI incidents in Calgary for a research paper you are writing.

See the difference?

2.)  Get aggressive with negative keywords

Negative keywords made a brief appearance in the first tip about ad group matching. But we need to go into more detail, as they’re important.

Negative keywords are terms that you DON’T want your ad to show up for.

With our clients at Inbound Law Marketing, we use about 7-10 negative keyword lists for a variety of purposes, such as excluding:

  • Certain provinces/states
  • Certain cities
  • “Careers”
  • “Cheap”/”free”
  • “Education”
  • “Resources”/”legal aid”
  • Undesirable (“sex”, “drugs”, etc.)

Because our clients want qualified leads with a good chance of turning into paying customers, they do not want to waste money with click-throughs resulting from certain undesirable searches such as these.

Negative keywords can apply to whole campaigns – or just at the ad group level, so they are then only applicable for that ad group.

Insert screenshot of campaign level/ad group level negative keywords

They apply to search network ads AND to ads on display networks.

We are quite aggressive with exclusions – you should be too. They can help boost your conversion rate by reducing unnecessary click-throughs from people with no intention of using your services.

If you click on the Keywords column of AdWords and select the Search Terms > All view, you’ll see the actual search queries used when your ad appeared. This will help you identify keywords that are used but aren’t relevant.

How else do you find these negative keyword terms? Well Google Analytics can tell you a lot about keyword searches. Here’s what you click on within Analytics to find the information you need:

Acquisition → AdWords → Matched Search Queries Query Match Type → Broad Match or Phrase Match

Then you can view the exact keyword phrases people are searching for and what’s not converting well; from these, select any negative keywords that you want to exclude from your campaign or ad group.

There may also be some legal terms you want to exclude if they are commonly associated with your keywords – but not applicable to your law firm.

For instance, if your criminal law firm does not handle sexual assault cases, then you can specify this as a negative keyword: your ads will be excluded from searches containing keywords related to sexual assault.

Insert screenshot – how to specify negative keywords in AdWords (like the one below but with legal terms)

In short, start using negative keywords to improve the quality of your visitors.

3.) Use dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in your ad copy

Dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) is an advanced AdWords feature. As the name suggests, it dynamically inserts one of your keywords into your ad text to match a customer’s search terms, customizing your ad to match the search query.

It’s a pretty cool feature that can improve your click-through rate. All it takes to include this feature is a special piece of code that is inserted into your ad text.

It’s best demonstrated with an example. Say your law firm specialises in employment law and you have an ad group that promotes employee rights in Alberta.

You would add some code into your ad – something like {KeyWord:employee rights}. When a keyword can’t be inserted into your ad, Google would insert employee rights. And, when a customer uses one of your keywords in a search, AdWords replaces the code with the keyword that triggered the ad.

Insert screenshot example

Where you have multiple keywords in an ad group, DKI allows you to have one generic ad serving all these keywords.

One ad can therefore have many ‘flavours’, appearing differently to different searchers. It makes your ads appear more relevant – increasing the likelihood of click–throughs.

While it can be very effective at optimizing your campaigns and is relatively simple to implement, it is an advanced feature that should be used quite sparingly. It does require some specialist knowledge of AdWords before playing around with it.

Use it wrongly and it can not only lead to some awkward wording in your ads, but you may need to defend YOURSELF in court – as it can lead to trademark violations and land you in legal trouble with other firms.

Remember – you ARE allowed to bid for competing law firm names in keywords, but you are NOT allowed to display them in your ads.

4.) Target zip codes and postal codes – not just cities

Being specific and targeted is very important for all aspects of AdWords – and so it is for bidding.

So, another important tip with local search keyword bidding is to target zip code and postal codes – not just entire cities.

Some areas of your city will be more target-worthy than others, so it makes sense to break it down and target these areas rather than going after all areas. Location-based bid modifiers can help you target these high-performing regions.…

5.) Adopt an effective keyword bidding strategy

The cost-effectiveness of running AdWords depends partly on your success at keyword bidding. Knowing what to target and how much to bid can increase this cost-effectiveness significantly – so it pays to learn a little about this.

With keyword bidding, you’ve essentially got four options:

  • Target CPA – where Google adjusts keyword bids through its algorithm to satisfy your stated cost per lead/acquisition
  • Target a position – where your bid is altered in order to gain you a spot in the top section of search results (good old ad ranking 1-3) or on the first page of search results.
  • Enhanced CPC – where you trust Google to decide how to get your keyword the clicks that will be most likely to convert
  • Maximized clicks – where you simply maximize your clicks


Obviously your bidding is tied in closely with your budget. So, while it may seem critical to bid for first


position in the ad section for some keywords, you should bear in mind that bidding too high or for first position can eat away your daily budget too quickly.

That ultimately means that you end up paying more than your competitors pay for exactly the same quality clicks.

You should bear in mind that people can be rather ‘click-happy’ with the top ad position. Sometimes it works better to be in position 2-5 with ads, as searchers may be more selective – and it shows that they’re not simply clicking on the first ad they see.

Screenshot Image

It’s therefore important to stay across your ‘time of day’ report. This can be accessed from the Dimensions tab within Campaigns – and used to see when your budget expires.

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6.) Bid on your own branded term

Just because you already rank in the SERPS for your own branded terms, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t advertise for these terms. This means you need to bid for these terms.

If you don’t bid, then one of your competitors might use your firm’s name for one of their ad groups and then target people looking for you.

How would that make you feel? Even if you rank number one in the SERPS’ organic traffic, one of your competitors is above you in the paid advertising section for your own brand name!

This is what you should be doing:

Screenshot of a lawyer advertising for their own name

Also bear in mind that you can bid high for your own brand – because those searching for your company are highly likely to convert.

Bidding mistakes by law firms are common – more are included in the points below.

7.) Use device bid adjustments

Do you get more customers contacting you through mobile rather than desktop nowadays? Are your campaigns succeeding or failing on all devices similarly – or are there significant variations in performance?

This has become more of an issue in recent years where, increasingly, people find products and services through smartphones and tablets.

You can increase the exposure of higher performing devices by using device bid adjustments and this will help you maintain a highly targeted keyword bidding strategy.

Device bid adjustments can be used in complete campaigns or ad groups. In the Campaigns interface you can select Devices from the Segment tab, as below:

Change the below screenshot though

Once you have the data to identify the best performing devices, you need to apply device bid adjustments by setting percentages for particular devices. These can range from -90% to +900%.

So, for instance if you have a campaign that performs well on mobile devices with a max CPC bid of $5, you may want to increase the percentage of customers who see this ad on mobiles. You increase the bid by 20% for searches on mobile devices, so the final bid amount is $6.


8.) Separate your ‘ad groups’ by ‘match type’

I still see law firms group all their keywords together in one ad group, so that everyone sees the same ad.

The set up of AdWords allows you to set up different ‘ad groups’ for different types of campaigns. It’s important to use this feature to segment your keywords based upon your audience, and to make campaign management easier and more effective.

Screenshot Image

It’s basic AdWords optimization that the ad should match the keyword being searched – as that makes it more likely that the right clients will click through.

If you separate your ad groups by match type, you will achieve this.

Our client, Oykhman Criminal Defence, breaks up their service keywords into different ad groups so that they can target their ads based upon what people are searching for. So, if a potential customer is searching for “Criminal Defence Lawyers” they see this ad:

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If they are searching for XXXXXXXXX, they see this ad:

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Without this segmentation, a customer searching for XXXXXXXXX might see this general ad:

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Now, which is more likely to send a potential customer through to your landing page where you can convert them into a paying customer?

At the next optimization level, there are several ‘match types’ for ads – and this is really where you can make a big difference to your results.

Match types for keywords can be:

Broad match;
Broad match modifier;
Phrase match
Exact match; or
Negative match
Let’s take a quick look at what each of these mean:

Broad match
With a broad match, if your keywords are used in the search in any order then your ad will show.

So, for example, if your keyword is criminal lawyer Edmonton and someone searches for Edmonton criminal lawyer your ad will display. Likewise, if they ask Where can I find a criminal lawyer in Edmonton? your ad will show.

Image of an ad for criminal lawyer Edmonton?

Broad match modifier
With a broad match modifier, if your keyword (or close variations of it) is used in the search in any order then your ad will show.

With criminal lawyer Edmonton, if someone searches for Edmonton criminal law your ad will display.

Phrase match
If you select ‘phrase match’, in order for your ad to show, the keyword must show up in the search as a complete phrase.

So, with criminal lawyer Edmonton, somebody must type that exact phrase into Google search for your ad to show: for instance: the best criminal lawyer Edmonton. It won’t show in searches for Where can I find the best criminal lawyer in Edmonton?


Exact match

If you select ‘exact match’, in order for your ad to show, this exact keyword phrase must show up in the search.

With criminal lawyer Edmonton, somebody must type exactly (and only) this phrase into Google search for your ad to show. It won’t show in searches for the best Edmonton criminal lawyer.


Negative match
With a negative match, you can specify common words and phrases often associated with your keyword phrases that you DON’T want your ad to show for.

For instance, with criminal lawyer Edmonton you may not want your ad to show for those searching for help with DUI cases, so you can specify this by including “-DUI”.


This table below summarizes it:

Insert table with these amendments

Omit special symbol column
Example Keywords and Example Searches columns

Broad: criminal lawyer Edmonton/ Edmonton criminal lawyer
Broad modifier: +criminal +lawyer +Edmonton/
Phrase: “criminal lawyer Edmonton”/ the best criminal lawyer Edmonton
Exact: [criminal lawyer Edmonton]/ criminal lawyer Edmonton
Negative: -DUI/DUI lawyer
As you might expect, the exact match has the highest precision and relevance – usually leading to a higher conversion rate (if the landing page copy is good) – but it will also likely have the fewest searches. This is often the best strategy in highly competitive niches.

A broad match will mean more impressions and clicks, but there may be a higher proportion of traffic for whom your services may not be 100% relevant.

The best strategy, then, is to separate your ad groups by match type. For some keywords, you will want an exact match and for others (for instance, when the number of searchers is low), a broader match will be the best plan.

Separating ad groups by match type may sound like more work in the account creation and account management side of things, but the greater targeting accuracy will more than make up for the extra time involved.

You will know more once you get started – tweak it as you go along to get it right.

9.) Use ‘single keyword ad groups’ for highest-performing keywords

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You now know the importance of segregating your keywords and ad groups: getting this right can literally make or break a campaign by improving click-through-rates, improving the chances of conversions, improving your quality scores and lowering the cost per action.

But which keywords should be grouped where?

Your ad groups act like the storage containers for your campaigns. Which keywords go where?

Screenshot of a law firm’s keyword management interface on AdWords

Keep your ad groups as small as possible. You don’t want them bulging with keywords. Instead they should be highly focused.

Most importantly here, some of your best-performing keywords should be in a ‘storage container’ all of their own, as they are prized assets, with high relevance, high search numbers, and high conversions. These are called ‘single keyword ad groups’ (‘SKAGs’) and, from here, you should be able to create very successful ads every time.

Let’s look at an example…

Insert screenshots from real example.

10.) Integrate keywords into your ads

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There are some basic optimization tips required for your ad copy- and this really should be a no-brainer.

Just as you would practice basic on-page SEO by including keywords on your website, the same applies to AdWord copy.

Your keywords need to appear in:

  • The ad headline
  • The body copy, and
  • The display URL

That’s so your ad appears relevant to the user for whom it is showing; after all they types the keyword in that resulted in your ad being shown. So it makes sense to include that term prominently in your ads.

The same term should also be used on the corresponding landing page – so when readers click through, they instantly see the relevance of the page to what they’re looking for. This will not only reduce bounce, help to improve user experience, and increase conversions; the demonstrated relevance will boost your Adwords quality score.

Remember that Google uses quality score to assess how successful your performance on AdWords to date has been – so improving this score canto potentially make campaigns higher profile and more cost-effective (as advertising costs will be cheaper).

So, for our client XXXXXXXXXXX with the keyword XXXXXXXXXXXX, you can see how prominent this is in their ad:

Insert screenshot

Notice the keyword XXXXXXXXXXX in the headline, body, and display URL.

And on their landing page:

Insert screenshot

11.) Test compelling messaging in your ad copy

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One of the fundamental rules of AdWords is to test everything – and nowhere is this more important than in your ad copy.

This is the copy that will either convince a potential customer to click – or convince them to look at a competing law firm. So it’s all on the line with your ad copy.

Your messaging is therefore key here. It needs to speak to the needs and concerns of your target audience.

But don’t fall into the trap of believing that you KNOW what people want to read in your ads – and going with your gut feeling rather than cold, hard numbers. You can write the best ad in the word (in your own mind) but it’s anything but if it doesn’t boost click rates and lead to conversions.

Fortunately, Google provides all the tools you need to test and measure different versions of your copy to see what works best: unlike most marketing, you don’t have to try very hard to get the data on what’s working and what’s not. It’s a case of using the tool at your diposal.

Test headline variations, body text, and calls to action. Maybe a longer headline works better than a shorter one, or a different call to action encourages more clicks. Test it.

Insert screenshot of the top 3/5 ads for a legal search term – and talk about the difference in headline/CTA etc.

Campaign experiments allows you to draft and then experiment with different ads (see the separate section on campaign experiments).

With ad copy you can set up A/B tests as you would with a landing page on Unbounce. Google will randomly display either the A or B version of the search ad. Then you can tap into the in-built reports on impressions, clicks, and conversions to see what’s working best.

You may be surprised what works best when you start testing – and you may be even more surprised what a difference it makes to your conversion rates and cost per acquisition.

NOTE: A/B testing is not just for lawyers starting out in AdWords. It needs to be an ongoing process: all the most successful AdWords businesses place a lot of stock in A/B testing and practice it continually.

Why? Because they don’t want to throw money at strategies that aren’t working.

12.) Leverage ad extensions


The biggest crime in AdWords is to pay for ads that just don’t stand out and are, essentially, invisible.

Ad extensions are useful free tools provided by Google for enhancing your ads, providing more visibility (and usability) for potential customers.

Using ad extensions can seriously increase click-through rates because of the increased visibility of your ads. They help you take up more ‘real estate space’ on the results pages and provide important information such as phone numbers, reviews, and location information.

Ad extension options include:

Sitelinks – to add more links to your ads

Call outs – to promote particular features or offers

Call extensions (also known as ‘click-to-call’ extensions) – to add phone numbers for mobile calls

Review extensions – to include reviews from trusted sites in your ads

Location extensions – to show your office address in ads
There are other manual extensions, such as price extensions, which are of less relevance to lawyers. The above five are the main ones you should focus on.

Note that not all the ad extensions you set up will be shown in every ad. Google decides what to show based on the customers’ search and other factors about your AdWords set up, including:

How much the extension(s) will improve your ad performance
Whether your ad’s position and Ad Rank is high enough

13.) Create local search ads

Insert screenshot

Does your law firm mainly service local clients?

If so, you can create local search ads by linking your Google My Business account to display your address and reviews in the local search results. This is an effective way to increase click-throughs from your target customers.

It’s a waste of money to target regions that you are not ‘active’ in or likely to win clients from. So it makes sense to laser-focus your geo-targeting to the local area.

Figure out what radius you should focus on and, if you have multiple locations, run separate campaigns with separate targets.

I mentioned location extensions in the ad extensions tip above. For local search ads, these need to be set up to show your business location (you cannot use the call extensions feature in local search ads but you can, of course, include your phone number).

The other benefit of local search ads that link to your Google My Business account is that potential customers can find out more about your business – with business hours, customer reviews, photos, and so on.

This is how one of our clients does it:

Insert screenshots

14.) Leverage remarketing lists for search ads

Remarketing lists are another great resource for eking every last drop of performance out of your search ads.

With the use of a tracking code on your website, you can go back and retarget potential customers who showed interest in your services by viewing your ad – and get a second chance to convert them into paying customers.

Just like on ecommerce sites, when people abandon their shopping carts, there could be many reasons why a customer never picks up the phone to call you or completes their details in a contact form. It may not always be because your services aren’t suitable – it could be due to a slow-loading page, they got called away, or the dog chewed their computer cable!

One thing is for sure – once they’ve left, you probably won’t get them back; unless you leverage remarketing lists through AdWords.

So when they leave your landing page without taking the call to action you can re-connect with them if they continue looking for the same service with Google Search.


This way you get a second bite of the cherry: you customize the ad that they viewed previously, customize keywords, and tailor bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching. The beauty is: you can be quite aggressive as the user has already displayed some interest in your services.

Some strategies for remarketing include:

Increase bids by 25% for your existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists who visited your website in the last 30 days.
Show a different ad to previous site visitors
Bid on keywords that you don’t normally bid on just for recent visitors that you want to remarket to
You can set up remarketing lists by adding a remarketing tag (a unique snippet of code) to as many pages of your site as you like. This code tells AdWords to add every visitor to your list, which it does with the use of cookies.


Develop landing pages and perform A/B testing

Your ad gets the click; your landing page converts clicks into leads.

Well-written landing pages therefore need to work alongside your ads as a key part of AdWords campaigns.

NEVER send visitors to your generic homepage. Landing pages should be specific to the AdWords campaign you’re running.

If a user searches for a criminal damage lawyer, your ad and landing page should be designed exclusively for criminal damage services rather than mentioning any other aspects of criminal law.

Screenshot of landing page

By clicking the ad, your visitor has already expressed an interest and perhaps, an intent to use your services. It is your job on the landing page to take them to the next stage in the sales funnel – usually to call or contact you with their legal problem.

So you need to:

  • Show you understand their problem with a value-driven headline
  • Connect with them and show how you solve their problem
  • Explain why you’re better than other law firms in this area
  • Demonstrate credibility and social proof
  • Make it clear what they should do next – with a clear call to action
  • Make it easy for them to take that action

You have a single page to build the credibility and trust to convince someone who may not have heard of you before to provide personal and often sensitive information. It’s not easy – and you may not get it right first time.

That’s why it’s important for the ultimate success of your AdWords campaign to set up A/B testing each time. You need to see what’s working and what’s not.


A marketing experiment where two variations of a landing page, ad, email or other piece of online content are pitted against each other to determine which produces the highest conversion rate. A/B testing is the key to optimizing your marketing campaign.

Not enough law firms are doing this currently – it should be 100 percent. Many firms simply assume they know what’s best… but even the former President of the USA didn’t know that:

President Obama raised an additional $60 million using A/B testing on his landing page and other related elements.


You may not make an extra $60 million but A/B testing your landing pages can make a huge difference to your conversion rate.

A/B testing is not about having two totally different versions of your pages. It is about testing each key element such as the size of headers, content of contact forms, placement and colour of call to action buttons etc…and going with what works best in reality.

You’ll be amazed how small tweaks often make a huge difference. A good example with a law firm was when our client XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It’s worth noting here that, as an Unbounce Certified Partner, Inbound Law Marketing includes A/B testing for all our clients’ landing pages before they are finalised.

16.) Run campaign experiments

Screenshot general image of the interface with this

You’ve already seen how experimentation is such an important part of AdWords for lawyers. We’ve discussed A/B testing for landing pages – and later we get into testing different ad copy.

But Google also provides plenty of help with its ‘campaign experiments’ function built in to AdWords.

Just as Unbounce looks after the testing of landing pages before they’re published, so campaign experiments allows you to A/B test other elements related to the performance of each of your campaigns in search and display networks.

This includes elements such as:

  • Keywords
  • Ad copy
  • Bidding strategies
  • Ad rotation
  • Ad extensions (more about these below)
  • Day & time parting
  • Geo-targeting

There are some exclusions to what’s supported by experiments:

Ad customizers using “Target campaign” or “Target ad group”
Some automated strategies like target search page location & target outranking share
Campaigns with shared budgets

How does it work?

Firstly, you can draft changes to campaigns using the in-built function that mirrors your existing campaign, and without impacting performance. Next, you have two choices:

Apply these changes to your ‘live’ campaign, or
Create an experiment to measure the results at campaign level and check effectiveness of the changes before applying them
From there you can see which experiment performs best and apply the winning variant. It’s much more effective than guesswork.

With an experiment, when a potential customer performs a search or loads a webpage on the display network Google randomly makes either the original campaign or the experiment active, depending on how the traffic share has been split between campaign and experiment.

With campaign experiments, depending on what you’re testing, it’s a good idea to let them run for a decent period of time – in most cases a number of weeks or a month. You specify this (and the budget) when you set up the experiment and also extend or shorten the period as you monitor it.

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Monitor telephone and contact form conversions

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Why are you running AdWords campaigns?

For most lawyers, the answer will be to receive leads via calls and contact forms. Good leads mean more cases. And more cases mean more revenue, right?

So, to determine level of success with AdWords campaigns, you should be measuring precisely this.

Click-through-rates are all well and good – and are a good indicator of the effectiveness of your ad; but it’s the telephone and contact from conversions that you’re really interested in.

Whether you prioritise telephone calls over form contacts is probably down to how your office is set up; but most law offices will have 24/7 answering system. The mobile element has become key for all businesses – and law firms are no exception.

There is an immediacy about contact via mobile phone that can bring a rich vein of leads if you optimize AdWords well for this. Callers are often further along the sales funnel than emailers.

You may decide to increase bids for mobile and run call-only ads aimed at mobile users – for these there are no landing pages.

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Or you can include a number (with call extensions) AND a contact form on your landing pages for other campaigns.

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Whatever you decide, track the conversions – with times, dates, numbers. You need to know how well the ads/landing pages are converting; you need to know what percentage of cases start as contact forms queries and phone calls.

Many lawyers cannot answer these basic questions about their AdWords campaigns.

Only when you are armed with accurate data and going about campaigns scientifically rather than through guesswork can you hope to successfully tweak campaigns and budgets to improve results.

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Here’s a simple but effective system for tracking leads from the first point of contact through to paying customers:

Setup conversion tracking for landing pages

This is just a snippet of code generated by AdWords, which tells you how many people submit forms.

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Track your calls

Use a call-tracking platform to integrate with Analytics and tell you how many calls come through AdWords search: this involves setting up numbers specifically for Google.

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Record the origin of leads

Use your law firm’s CRM to record the origin of all your leads and train your assistants to accurately input call and form data. When these leads become clients or vanish into thin air, make sure that the CRM is kept up to date.

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Monitor revenue from converted leads

Once a lead becomes a sale, make sure you keep a handle on the revenue generated – a $1000 client is very different to a $50,000 one. You need this information to forecast and to budget for future AdWords campaigns, so make sure you keep tracking revenue.

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The above strategy helps you set up AdWords campaigns with full-knowledge of the actual dollar values you can expect – rather than trying to make decisions simply on clicks or leads generated.

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How soon will you see results from Adwords?

From my experience of working with law firms, some lawyers expect too much from AdWords; and other are content with too little.

What do I mean by that?

Well, some lawyers expect high returns simply because they’ve thrown some money at AdWords – without doing their due diligence on who they’ve hired to look after their campaigns, or understanding enough to ensure that the strategy is on track.

Others are content with the few, high-value leads they are getting, without realizing that they could be getting so many more.

The truth is this:

You need to hire the right campaign managers who know how to optimize AdWords
You need to set a high enough budget that will make you competitive, visible, and able to attract considerable high-quality traffic
You need to track, measure, and monitor results over time
Few law firms get it right straight off the bat; there needs to be a period of testing ads until they are performing. Then tweaks and adjustments must be made to optimize campaigns. Stick with it and you’ll see the results pick up.

If you follow the above tips and advice, you can expect faster results than with SEO. It often takes months before organic search rankings pick up.

As soon as your AdWords campaign goes live, your ad will start appearing and the campaign data will start flowing – which you can then use to make adjustments and improvements.

Five questions to ask an Adwords firm before hiring
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Most lawyers simply do not have the time to look after AdWords campaigns themselves – even if they do have the expertise required.

Invariably, then, you will outsource the job to AdWords professionals to set up and manage your campaigns.

But it’s obviously important to make sure you hire the right professionals to deliver the results you’re seeking. That means asking a few basic due diligence questions to the likely candidates:

What results can you demonstrate?

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Get evidence of actual results before hiring. These should be checked and verified, if possible. Ideally, speak to past or current clients.

Have you worked with law firms before?

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Hire a firm not only with an impressive history of success with AdWords – but with experience of law firm marketing.

Some of the challenges you face as a law firm are quite unique; and it helps if the professionals you work with on your marketing campaigns have an understanding of the sensitive nature of the legal profession.

Who will be managing my AdWords campaign? How many full-time employees in your firm?

One-man bands are quite common in PPC, SEO, and with other online marketing companies. Make sure that there is a team behind your AdWords campaign, with a named main contact who you can liaise with whenever necessary.

You don’t want to be left in the lurch by a one-man band busy on running other campaigns,

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How long have you been AdWords professionals?

Just like with other aspects of online marketing, be wary of scammers. Before hiring a firm to look after your AdWords, make sure there is a demonstrable and credible history of stability at the company; scammers may move from business name to business name to avoid detection.

You can also ask if they are an official Google AdWords partner – more about this below in the FAQs.

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What exactly will your AdWords strategy be for my firm?

Request a detailed plan of the proposed AdWords strategy that the company will be using in your case. Get specific and question them on anything that is vague, unclear, or that you don’t understand.

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10 Adwords questions we get asked regularly by law firms
How does Google AdWords work?
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In the simplest of terms, AdWords is the main Google advertising systems, whereby advertisers bid on keywords for their ads to show at the top of Google search results. Each click-through from a visitor is chargeable at the bid price – so you need to make these clicks count.

That – and the many intricacies involved in optimizing AdWords campaigns – are what this article explains.

Can I manage a Google Adwords campaign myself?
Yes. But it’s unlikely that you will. AdWords campaigns take not only specialist knowledge but also plenty of time – especially early on in campaigns when testing what works best.

Without investing time into the process, you will not receive the results you expect. Most lawyers simply don’t have this time on their hands, so they end up outsourcing to specialist AdWords professionals within marketing firms.

What does Pay Per Click (PPC) mean?
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Pay Per Click is the advertising model usually employed by lawyers using AdWords and other search advertising platforms. Advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked.

If, for example, you want your ad to show when users search for ‘bankruptcy lawyer Edmonton’, you would need to bid for this term; the bid amount is the amount that you would pay each time a searcher clicked on your ad containing this term.

An alternative to PPC is CPM, which stands for ‘cost per impression’ – here you pay an amount for every 1000 impressions of your ad on a display network.

Do people actually click on AdWords ads?
Google would not be the behemoth it is if people didn’t click on AdWords ads. It’s a huge earner for an organisation that makes 90 percent of its revenue from advertising. So, yes – people DO click on the ads.

As a general guideline, for keywords with high intent, it’s estimated that clicks on paid search listings attract almost double the clicks of organic searches on Google– though of course this varies with ad quality, position etc.

Overall, more people still click on organic search listings; however, remember that you’re after the ones with intent to hire legal services, not mere browsers, researchers, or people looking for free legal advice. These people will click on well-targeted, well-written ads.

How often the right people click on your ads comes down to how well you set up your AdWords campaign – precisely what this article has tried to help you with!

What is an AdWords Certified Partner?
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A Google AdWords Certified Partner has passed AdWords product certification exams and are fully up to date with the latest information on AdWords.

This status is only awarded to agencies, marketing professionals, and online experts that have demonstrated strong understanding and application of AdWords. It’s a good way, then, for you to differentiate serious AdWords professionals from the rest.

How much should I spend on a Google AdWords campaign?
What’s the value of a customer to you? As a lawyer, any paying customer to you has the potential to be quite high value – for argument’s sake, let’s say from $1000 up to tens of thousands of dollars.

This fact alone is important when working out your AdWords budget: once you know the potential value of a customer, you know what you are able to spend on acquiring that customer, while still turning in a profit.

As mentioned, most of the main keyword terms for lawyers are competitive and expensive to bid on – you can’t target them without very large AdWords budgets.

The smarter you are with targeting the right keywords, writing compelling ads and landing pages, and measuring what works best, the more profitable you can be on AdWords.

But it’s important to start with enough of a budget to be able to ‘absorb’ a few mistakes along the way – especially in the early stages while you work out what the best formula is for attracting quality clicks and conversions.

Is AdWords too expensive?
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Yes – it can be – but this depends entirely on how well set up and optimized your campaigns are.

Any marketing activity is ‘expensive’ if it doesn’t produce a good return on investment. So the key to getting great value from AdWords is to get your ads delivering clicks, leads, and sales.

Because of the potential lifetime value of the customers that AdWords can deliver to lawyers, its results will far outweigh even a significant investment – providing it is well-managed.

How do I get more AdWords clicks?
The simple answer to this is, again, to optimize your campaigns.

This means bidding for the right keywords and crafting ads that compel your target audience to click. Of course, clicks are only half the story – you also need to develop landing pages that effectively convince them to contact you, and then convert that interest into paying customers.

But clicks are the first thing to focus on – and many of the above tips should help with that.

How much does it cost to have someone manage my AdWords campaign?
This will depend on who you hire. The best ones charge more because they produce better results. You should probably be wary of those that under-charge.

As a general guideline for lawyers, expect to pay between $500-$1500 per month on average, for high-quality AdWords management. This may be arranged as a flat fee, a monthly fee, percentage of ad spend, or a performance-based fee.

Make sure that, before hiring any AdWords professional(s), you have a clear of idea on the break down of costs: what the campaign management fees and what you will be paying to Google. Only then will you be able to effectively budget for your AdWords marketing.

If they produce the right results for you, anything you pay an agency or Google will be dwarfed by your returns.

What’s the difference between search and display ads?
AdWords broadly covers two different types of paid ads: search ads and display ads.

The search ads are the standard, common clickable ads at the top of the Google SERPS that we all know and love:

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Display ads are managed by Google and show on any of their partner networks. Google claims that this network includes over 2 million sites that reach over 90% of global internet users.

So your display ad may show in the appropriate Google Display Network (GDN). This might be on blogs, news sites, or on YouTube for instance. It may target visitors who landed on your site previously (remarketing)

If you select for your ads to show in both networks, you may need to combine several different optimization strategies.

Generally speaking, the intent to buy may be less for ad viewers on display networks than on the SERPS – so this requires different ads/calls to actions etc. However, if you are remarketing to previous site visitors, this requires a different strategy again.

We have focused the 17 tips above mainly on the search ads and remarketing – as this is what most law firms will target.

Let’s recap!
I’ve said it before: the legal profession is competitive. You need all the help you can get with gaining an advantage over your competitors – not least because of the generally high value of each customers that comes your way.

This make AdWords both attractive and a little scary.

It’s attractive because it can bring large amounts of high-value customers through the door; it’s scary because if you get it wrong, it can be a very expensive mistake.

So let’s recap on how to get it right.

To recap, to optimize AdWords, pay attention to each of the following key areas:

Keyword targeting

Focus on long tail keywords, not just head terms
Get aggressive with negative keywords
Use dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in your ad copy
Target zip codes and postal codes – not just cities
Keyword bidding

Adopt an effective keyword bidding strategy
Bid on your own branded terms
Use device bid adjustments
Optimizing ad groups

Separate your ‘ad groups’ by ‘match type’
Use ‘single keyword ad groups’ for highest-performing keywords
Effective ad creation

Integrate keywords into your ads
Test compelling messaging in your ad copy
Leverage ad extensions
Create local search ads
Leverage remarketing lists for search ads
Landing pages and conversion tracking

Develop landing pages and perform A/B testing
Run campaign experiments
Monitor telephone and contact form conversions
You probably won’t be managing AdWords campaigns yourself – you won’t have the time. Doing it half-heartedly can become expensive.

So the other key to getting AdWords right is to hire the right people to manage it for you: reliable AdWords marketers who get results.

Then AdWords becomes an essential investment that your law firm can’t do without.

Ahem!…Did I mention that we look after AdWords marketing at Inbound Law Marketing?



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