PPC for Lawyers: 12 Tips to Master Digital Advertising

ppc for lawyers

When looking for qualified legal advice, 96% of people head to a search engine like Google.

That’s a considerable amount of leads you could be attracting to your website 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 their own PPC campaign.

And in this article, you’ll learn:

Let’s begin.

What is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising?

PPC (pay-per-click) for lawyers is a digital marketing model that allows lawyers to display their ads on Google (or other search engines). You get a premium placement at the top of Google, but in exchange, you have to bid on your target keywords and pay whenever someone clicks your ad.

It’s a way of buying traffic to your 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 getting leads to 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.

lawyer keyword costs

PPC advertising can be really expensive, especially when starting out. But when it’s working correctly, the fees are trivial as you’re earning 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.

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, there are still hundreds that will 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 does PPC advertising 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 marketing 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

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

When you think of running shoes, Nike probably comes to mind. Don’t you want your law firm to be the Nike of local law firms?

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.

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 for PPC advertising 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 months if not years to show results.

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 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 impossible to say which is better without knowing the unique situation of a business.

If you’re competing with some reputable, authoritative local law firms that dominate organic search, you may struggle with winning organic traffic in the short term.

In that case, PPC is a good bet as it’ll let you bypass the top-ranking search results for your targeted keywords and win some hyper-targeted traffic.

For example, this law firm shows up for the keyword “criminal defense lawyer Toronto” as an ad, but is nowhere to be found in the organic results.

ppc ad over organic traffic

Ideally, you’ll invest in both PPC and SEO. They complement each other, and when working in tandem, cover each others weaknesses and help you get even more traffic.

The benefits of incorporating both strategies include:

  • Test keyword effectiveness before investing time and effort into SEO
  • Using both marketing strategies can help you get traffic from what may be two different pools of customers
  • Get your brand in front of users at all stages of the customer journey
  • Keywords with high costs, low conversions, but high volume (but are still important) can be targeted with organic search
  • Remarketing through PPC can get your brand in front of users after they’ve clicked one of your organic results

Our experience has found that integrating both into your search strategy is the way to go in most cases.

PPC management for lawyers

PPC management involves refining your keyword strategy and ad spend, 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, and 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.

12 PPC tips for attorneys

Following these tips should help you determine what you want to get out of 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

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

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

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. 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 the most popular social media platform in the world (even today!), odds are a portion of your client base is active there.

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.

4. Think about budget

Budgeting is a crucial part of any successful PPC campaign.

And platforms like Google and Facebook give you tons of tools you need to get an accurate forecast of a typical ad spend.

You can use Google Keyword Planner forecasts to get an estimate of traffic and costs. And you’ll get access to metrics that can help you plan out your weekly and monthly budgets.

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.

One PPC budgeting recommendation

We haver a recommendation for everyone involved in PPC management: limit your ad spend.

We recommend you start small and see how your ads perform after at least two weeks. Then you can increase your budget if the ads are performing, or make changes and test it again with a small budget.

5. Write ad copy that converts

Your ad copy 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.

6. 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

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.

7. Use keywords in your ad copy

There’s more to PPC 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.

To make sure your ad gets to the top of the PPC section, focus on improving that 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.

8. 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 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 getting them to engage with you through a contact form or some other method.

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 led them to a generic homepage, the language and imagery won’t be tailored to them specifically and they’ll likely bounce.

9. Use different match types to optimize

Keywords are used to match ads with search terms people are typing in, like “lawyer near me.”

Google also has keyword match types, which govern how closely a search term needs to match the keyword before your ad will appear.

law firm keyword match types

Here are the match types to keep in mind:

Broad match

The most general match type, all variations and related searches will prompt Google to display your ad to the user. The searcher doesn’t need to use an exact keyword match to view your ad.

Google understands synonyms and related keywords, and it uses that information to match the meaning of the keyword with a relevant ad.

For example, if you choose a broad match for “criminal defense lawyer,” your ad may appear if someone searches “lawyer” or “crime lawyer.”

This type of ad can increase your ad coverage, but the downside is that your ad will appear in front of an audience that you may not be targeting.

Phrase match

A phrase match can trigger your ad on searches that include your keyword’s meaning or contain a part of the phrase.

For example, if your phrase match keyword was “family lawyer texas,” your ad could appear for keyword variations like “the best family lawyer in Texas” and “top family attorneys texas.”

Exact match

An exact match will only show your ad if the search result is an exact match or has the same meaning as your keyword.

For example, the exact match keyword “divorce lawyer California” would trigger if searchers typed in “divorce lawyer California” or “divorce attorney California.”

10. Advertise on mobile

If you’re not advertising on mobile, you’re missing out on the majority of searchers. At least 63% of Google’s search traffic comes from mobile devices.

To reach the widest audience, you want to ensure your law firm’s PPC ads appear on mobile and are made with mobile in mind.

mobile google ad lawyers

You can find relevant keywords that perform best on mobile devices and bid higher for keywords targeting an audience that spends most of their time on mobile.

With optimized mobile PPC ads for lawyers, you’ll drive mobile visits to your website plus phone calls. It’s an excellent way to capture new leads.

11. Boost your clickthrough rate (CTR) with ad-extensions

You want to remove all potential blockers to encourage potential clients to contact you. And if you’re advertising on mobile, it’s even more important that your law firm’s PPC campaign uses ad extensions to boost your clickthrough rate (CTR).

Here’s an example:

google ad extensions

Google Ad extensions make it easy for searchers to find crucial information right from the SERP. Ad extensions can include location information, sitelinks to pages on your website, and a call button.

12. Monitor your performance

We said you can get instant results with a PPC campaign, and that’s true. But you won’t experience optimal results overnight.

It takes time for your ads to populate and for searchers to start clicking them.

And then you need to monitor their performance and continually optimize them. Google Analytics will let you know what ads are performing well and which need attention.

You’ll want to A/B test several versions of each ad component to ensure you’re using the optimal ads for your audience.

Here are a few metrics worth monitoring:

  • Quality score. The Quality Score is how Google determines how relevant your keywords and ads are when compared to user searches. It’s determined by your ad’s CTR, landing page, and keyword and ad relevance.
  • Clickthrough rate. The key metric that determines how relevant your ad is to users. It’s a measurement of how many users are actually clicking on your ad. If your CTR is low, you need to improve your keyword selection and/or your ad creative.
  • Conversion rate. Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who’ve clicked your ad and completed the call-to-action on your landing page.
  • Cost per conversion. This is the cost of actually acquiring a new client through your ads. If your CPC is $50 and it takes 10 clicks to acquire one client, your cost per conversion would be $500.
  • Wasted spend. One of your goals is to acquire new clients without wasting too much money. This metric reflects the money you spend on clicks that don’t convert.

Law firm PPC can help you get clients fast

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads for law firms can be a constant source of qualified sales leads for your law firm.

We recommend investing in Google Ads as your primary PPC platform. In our experience, it provides a superior ROI to Facebook advertising.

Not getting enoughhigh-quality sales leads?

With Kickstart, you’ll get an optimized Google Ads strategy that’s completely managed, plus optimized mobile-first landing pages that convert.

Learn More