PPC for Lawyers: 13 Tips to Master Online Advertising

ppc for lawyers

Let’s talk about PPC for Lawyers.

Did you know — when looking for qualified legal advice, many people head to a search engine. Google currently accounts for 89.04 percent of all search traffic in the U.S. and was visited 86.3 billion times last month alone.

From these numbers, it’s easy to imagine the number of leads you could be attracting to your website from Google with the right pay-per-click (PPC) advertising strategy.

Now, you might want to get started with PPC, but finding the perfect balance between ad spend and new clients takes a lot of time and testing. It’s not a simple set-it-and-forget-it type of marketing.

But you can expect a high return on investment (ROI) if you put in the work.

To make it easy on you, Google — the most widely used PPC platform — has created educational resources so anyone can learn to create a PPC campaign.

And in this article, you’ll learn:

Let’s begin.

What is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

PPC for Lawyers (pay-per-click) is an effective digital marketing approach wherein law firms can prominently feature their ads on search engines like Google. By bidding on relevant keywords, attorneys ensure their services are highly visible. However, they only incur a cost when a potential client clicks on their ad. This strategy not only provides prime exposure on search results but is also a powerful tool for law firms to attract and connect with potential clients.

It’s a way of buying traffic to your law firm’s website rather than earning that same traffic organically through search engine optimization or other techniques.

Your ad will appear in one of the top spots on Google, and you can immediately start generating leads for your site.

But every time someone clicks one of your ads, you pay a fee.

The amount you pay depends on the search term the visitor typed into Google to get to your website. The more competitive the keyword is, the more expensive it’ll be.

Law-related keywords are some of the most expensive out there.

For example, any keyword related to personal injury can cost hundreds of dollars per click.

PPC for Lawyers Most Expensive Google Keywords
(Image Source)

PPC advertising can be really expensive, especially when starting out. But when it’s working correctly, the fees are trivial, as you can earn more per visit than your cost per click (CPC).

If you pay $100 for a click but make $5,000 off of that one client, you’ve made a huge profit.

And that’s the goal.

Law Firm PPC: Terminology

Knowing the terminology that we use for PPC will give you a better understanding of this strategy.

Pay close attention to what you see here, for you’ll see the same terms used throughout this article, on Google, and anywhere else PPC is discussed.

  • CPC (Cost-per-click): The fee an advertiser is charged for each clicked ad.
  • CTR (Click-through rate): The ratio of ad clicks to the total number of ad displays (Impressions).
  • CPA (Cost-per-acquisition): The average expense incurred for converting clicks into successful actions.
  • ROAS (Return on ad spend): Measures the revenue earned against the amount spent on PPC campaigns.
  • Quality Score: Google’s method for grading ads based on elements like keyword pertinence.
  • Ad Rank: A metric indicating the position of your ad on search results pages.
  • Exact Match: Displays your ads solely when search terms perfectly align with the chosen keyword.
  • Broad Match Keywords: Allows your ad to appear for keyword variations and related phrases.
  • Ad Extensions: Supplementary details appearing beneath the primary PPC ad, such as a “Call” option, cost details, or a direct link to a specific page.

PPC for Law Firms: Does It Matter?

Imagine someone Google’s “criminal defense lawyer Minnesota.” They’ll see a page like this:

criminal defense lawyer minnesota

Notice that every single search result that’s immediately visible is an ad.

criminal defense lawyer minnesota ads

Even if you have the best SEO and rank organically for every keyword you target, you’ll still be below the paid ads.

And while many people skip over Google’s paid ads on the SERP, hundreds will still click your ad.

The best solution is to focus on both SEO and PPC marketing.

But the reality is that PPC can help you get results almost instantaneously, while SEO can take months, if not years, to work.

As the most popular search engine and social media platform in the world, Google Ads PPC and Facebook PPC are both worth looking into.

How Do PPC for Lawyers Campaigns Work?

Let’s say you’re a criminal defense law firm in Atlanta. You want to promote your services to locals, so you decide to run a PPC advertising campaign.

Your target audience could be adult males between the ages of 20 and 50. You can narrow down your target location to specific zip/postal codes to hyper-target the right group of people.

google ads target zip codes

You want your ad to show up for the search terms “criminal defense Atlanta” and “criminal defense attorney Atlanta.”

From there, you can choose to specify even further, segmenting your audience by income, profession, family size, and more.

To succeed, you need to narrow in on who your target audience is, where they live, what their needs are, and what they’re searching for. If you skip this step, you may as well throw your money into the wind.

Benefits of PPC for Lawyers

You now know that PPC for lawyers can be wildly expensive, competitive, and difficult to get right. But when you optimize your campaigns, all of the negatives go out the window, and you’re left with only positives.

Here are the main benefits of PPC.

Build Brand Awareness

Your law firm is a business, but it’s also a brand.

When you think of service businesses like Marriott Hotels or Delta Airlines, they’ve built powerful brands that instantly bring quality and service to mind. Don’t you want your law firm to be known locally for these qualities?

Brand awareness measures how recognizable your brand is to your target audience.

And one thing we recommend all of our clients do is create ads targeting their brand name as the keyword, like this.

google ads branded keyword

Otherwise, your competitors could create ads that appear when someone searches for your law firm and direct that traffic to themselves.

You can also target that exact audience with PPC ads, so they’re frequently coming across your ads. While they may not click right away, over time the name of your firm will stick with them.

And when they decide they’re ready to hire a lawyer, you have an increased chance of getting that business as you’ve already done the work of being recognizable.

Building brand awareness is a powerful law firm marketing strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Related – Law Firm Marketing Strategy: Are you prepared to market and grow your law firm in 2023? If so, this article is for you.

Get Your Ads in Front of the Right People at the Right Time

There’s a lot you can do with ads.

For example, someone may have clicked on one of your ads but didn’t go further. They showed interest but ultimately didn’t reach out.

You can choose to target these exact people with remarketing campaigns. By switching up your ad copy, you may be able to win these “missed opportunities.”

The key here is having the ability to send out entirely different ads to different groups in order to meet their needs.

Control Your Advertising Budget

If you know your target audience is more willing to convert during certain times of the year, you can increase your ad budget during those periods.

Conversely, if there are times when conversions are lower, or there’s a holiday or event that interferes with conversation rates, you can reduce your advertising budget or pause it completely.

You’re in complete control of your budget and can spend as much or as little as you want.

As long as you’re seeing a positive ROI, you’re a success.

Get Immediate Results

Perhaps the best argument on using PPC for Lawyers is the ability to get instant results.

As soon as your ad is sent out into the universe, you’ll start attracting visitors to your website.

The alternative is SEO for lawyers, which can take awhile to show results and may require more effort. However, these results are substantial and worthwhile of consideration

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Monitor How Your Ads are Performing and Adjust Ad Spend Accordingly

Once you launch your ads, don’t expect amazing results right away. You want to let them run for a couple of days to give them a chance to populate and get in front of users.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t monitor them.

You should regularly monitor your ad spend to get an idea of ROI. PPC platforms like Google and Facebook give you all the tools you need to get valuable insights into your ad performance.

From there, you can adjust target audiences, keywords, ad copy, and other variables until your ad is performing optimally.


It’s a commonly debated topic: Is PPC or SEO the better option for law firms? The reality is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Your unique business situation and objectives will inform the best approach.

If you find your law firm battling against well-established, authoritative local competitors who have a strong grip on organic search rankings, you might face challenges breaking through and securing a top spot organically, especially in the beginning.

In such instances, PPC for Lawyers can be a savior. With PPC, you can essentially “leapfrog” those organic results and position your firm prominently for your desired keywords, drawing in focused, high-intent traffic.

To illustrate, consider a law firm targeting the keyword “criminal defense lawyer Toronto.” They might not rank in the top organic spots (or may not even be on the first page). However, with a strategic PPC ad, they can secure prime visibility at the top of the search results.

ppc ad over organic traffic

The most efficient law firms harness the strengths of both PPC and SEO, creating a robust online presence. These two strategies, while distinct, can bolster each other, filling gaps and maximizing traffic inflow.

The benefits of incorporating both strategies include:

  • Keyword Strategy Enhancement: With PPC, you can gauge keyword performance swiftly, which helps inform long-term SEO strategies.
  • Diverse Traffic Sources: Engaging both tactics could tap into potentially varied client segments.
  • Holistic Brand Visibility: Ensure potential clients see your brand regardless of their journey stage.
  • Flexible Keyword Targeting: For vital keywords that may have high costs or low conversions in PPC but are crucial for visibility, SEO can provide a cost-effective route.
  • Reinforced Brand Recall: Leveraging PPC remarketing can reintroduce your firm to users who’ve previously interacted with your organic content.

In our extensive experience, integrating both PPC and SEO into your digital marketing strategy often yields the most comprehensive results.

Related – SEO for Lawyers: Are you interested in getting your firm to the #1 position in Google’s search results? Of course you are. Who isn’t?

PPC Management for Lawyers

PPC management involves refining your keyword strategy/ad spend, and thinking about how to allocate resources to specific keywords to maximize ROI.

To do so, PPC specialists will use techniques like:

  • Split Testing
  • Creating and Adjusting Goals
  • Optimizing Conversion Paths
  • Introducing New Keywords

The best in the business also pay attention to search engines, monitoring updates and changes to keep their paid campaigns in line with industry standards and guidelines.

It’s a huge undertaking, which is why we recommend hiring a PPC specialist in most cases.

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13 Tips on PPC for Lawyers

These tips should help you determine what you want from your PPC campaign and how to get started.

1. Set Your Goals

To start, you’ll want to define your goals — what do you want to get out of your PPC campaign?

The obvious answer is “to get more clients.” But we can get more specific by thinking about SMART goals.

law firm smart goals

SMART goals are a part of every law firm’s marketing strategy. And rightfully so.

If the goals you set are SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound), you’ll have more realistic and actionable goals that can guide everything you do.

So, instead of saying you want to get more clients, your goal could be:

“I want to generate 50 more leads per month through PPC. If I convert 25% of leads, I’ll have 12.5 more clients per month. I’ll reach this goal in three months.”

That’s just an example. To form your own goal, ask yourself:

  • How many leads do I want to get every month?
  • How many of those leads do you need to convert to consider the campaign a success?
  • How long will you give yourself to reach the goal?

Then think about what the purpose of your goal is. Are you trying to generate leads? Raise brand awareness?

2. Target a Specific Audience

As you now know, you can’t have a successful PPC campaign without having a specific client persona in mind.

law firm client persona

You likely already know who your main client base is. Take some time to put it on paper.

Figure out who your clients are, where they live, their income, their challenges and pain points, how they prefer to communicate, and even their interests.

All of this data can be used to hyper-target that specific audience, so your ads are only seen by them, saving you money and improving your overall clickthrough rate (CTR).

If you don’t have a solid idea of who your target client is, here are some ways to figure that out:

  • Competitor analysis. Who are your competitors targeting? What types of ads are they using? On what platforms?
  • Survey your existing clients. Figure out key data points about the clients you already have. This is the easiest and most effective way to build a client persona. Look at things like age, location, income, and marital status.

3. Target Your Specific Location

Many law firms depend on local lead generation to fuel their growth.

With SEO, that means local search optimization but with PPC for lawyers, you can target your precise location in your ads.


It can save ad spend and reduce wastage if you set geographical parameters for your ads to specifically target a defined area. Then your ads will only appear to searchers in that area and not attract clicks (for which you pay) from searchers in areas that are unlikely to yield paying clients.

Why show ads to clients in Minnesota if your clients predominantly come from the Bronx area of New York?

That would be wasteful for any law firm but especially if your cost-per-click is high (for competitive keywords).

4. Choose Your Advertising Method

Once you’ve figured out where your clients are active, you can choose your advertising method.

We’ve found that law firms experience excellent results using Google Ads, primarily with search and display ads.

Another option worth looking into is Facebook ads. As a popular social media platform, odds are a portion of your client base is active there.

PPC for Lawyers Facebook Ad

Lastly, YouTube is a fine option if you have strong video content, but we’ve found that it doesn’t perform as well as the others.

RelatedGoogle Ads for Lawyers: Common mistakes and the most critical optimization opportunities for a law firm’s Google Ads campaign.

5. Think About Budget

Managing your law firm’s marketing budget is a crucial part of any successful campaign — but with PPC (and its potential to get very expensive very quickly), it’s even more crucial to get it right.

Platforms like Google and Facebook are equipped with robust tools to help you anticipate your typical ad spend.

The Google Keyword Planner forecasts, for instance, offers invaluable insights into potential traffic and associated costs. By analyzing these forecasts, you can outline a tentative weekly or monthly budget.

However, it’s essential to approach these figures as guidance rather than absolutes. While they provide an approximation, numerous variables — many within your control like ad copy, ad design, and landing page quality — can influence the actual results.

ppc metrics

Your forecast, by definition, is only an estimate of what you can expect. A lot of your success comes from your ad copy and other variables that are in your control.

Essential PPC Budgeting Advice: Vigilance is the key to effective budget management.

It’s all too easy for ad spend to overshoot its mark if left unchecked. Thus, our golden rule for those venturing into PPC is to exercise restraint, especially initially. Commence with a conservative budget, allowing your ads to run for a minimum of two weeks. This window provides a glimpse into their efficacy.

If they’re resonating with your target audience and driving results, consider incrementally increasing your budget.

Conversely, if they’re underperforming, reevaluate your strategy, make the necessary tweaks, and perhaps even test with a reduced budget before committing more funds.

Remember, the PPC landscape is dynamic.

Regularly reviewing and adjusting your budget based on performance metrics and changing market conditions will place your law firm in an optimal position to achieve your marketing objectives.

6. Write Ad Copy That Converts

Your ad copy can make or break an ad campaign. It should tell prospective clients why you’re a better choice than the competition. It should address their pain points and be followed with a call-to-action (CTA).

Like all aspects of PPC, it’s important to test multiple versions of your copy. After all, great keyword selection and optimization won’t get people to click on your ads. The creative will.

Remember the client persona you put together? Use that to identify client pain points and their needs and concerns, and work that into your copy.

You might think you know what people want to hear, but you’d be surprised. Testing multiple iterations of copy is the best way to create the perfect ad.

And Google gives you the ability to test multiple pieces of your ad copy, including:

  • Headline variations
  • Body text
  • Calls to action
  • Display URLs

Here’s an example of ad variations for one ad set:

criminal law ad set

Copywriting is an art that requires trial and error to determine what messaging works best. Google lets you run A/B tests, which display either version A or B (or C, D, E) of the search ad.

Run those for a couple of weeks. Then you can determine which elements of the ads are most successful, recreate the best version, and reallocate your budget accordingly.

You’ll be surprised at the results you can achieve with a little bit of patience.

7. Select Relevant Keywords

Keywords are the bread and butter of your ad campaign.

You can use Google Ads keyword planner to discover keywords you want to bid for. You can look at your website (or competitors) to see what keywords you should include in your PPC ad campaigns.

With the keyword planner, you can:

  • Find keywords that are relevant to your target audience. Since many law firms operate locally, consider location-specific keywords like “defense attorney in Austin.”
  • See an estimated amount of searches a keyword gets every month
  • Forecast an estimated spending plan for specific keywords, as the average cost of a keyword is available

PPC for Lawyers Google Keyword Planner

We recommend you find a balance between high-volume, broad keywords and low-volume, more specific keywords.

Broad keywords with high volumes are more expensive across the board. They can get your ad in front of more people, but they’re less targeted. A more specific keyword will usually cost less and convert better.

8. Use Keywords in Your Ad Copy

There’s more to PPC for Lawyers than just picking keywords and putting up the money.

Google (and other PPC platforms) use a Quality Score to measure how effective and relevant your ad is when compared to other advertisers bidding on the same keywords.

PPC for Lawyers Google Quality Score

To ensure your ad gets to the top of the PPC section, focus on improving your Quality Score.

One way to do so is by using keywords in your ad copy.

Try to incorporate your keywords into your headline and ad content. This can be a challenge for some keywords, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of readability.

More specific long-tail keywords (those low-volume ones we mentioned earlier) will have less competition and have a lower Quality Score requirement. You’ll have an easier time getting those ads where you want them to be.

Lastly, you can consider dynamic keyword insertion. It makes sure that at least one of the search terms someone types into Google appears in your ad copy, increasing its relevance.

9. Create Landing Pages

When someone clicks on your ad, what page do they end up on?

An important aspect of any successful PPC campaign is the landing page that searchers end up on when they click your ad. It’s essentially your shot at convincing them that clicking your ad was the right choice and encouraging them to engage with you through a contact form or some other method.

For a few great ideas for creating these pages, check out our rundown of the best 21 law firm landing pages.

Criminal defense Google Ad campaigns tend to do well when they direct searchers to high-quality landing pages.

Here’s a great example from MD Criminal Defence.

criminal defense landing page
(Image Source)

It’s better to direct searchers to a landing page designed specifically in response to the ad copy so that it can better address their pain points, needs, and wants.

If your ad leads them to a generic homepage, the language and imagery won’t be tailored specifically to their needs, and they’ll be more likely bounce.

Related – Lead Generation for Lawyers: Why it’s essential for lawyers to initiate a lead generation strategy and how to go about it.

10. Use D