31 Essential PPC Definitions Every Lawyer Needs To Know

Knowledge is power, and knowing important PPC terms will help you find the right marketing agency to help you and make intelligent, informed decisions about your campaigns.

31 Essential PPC Definitions Every Lawyer Needs To Know

If you’re a lawyer, you probably understand your need for PPC (pay-per-click advertising for keywords related to your services on Google or Bing), but it can still be intimidating. PPC and law are two completely different fields with different languages. Just like marketers may be initially intimidated by legal lingo (tort, comparative negligence, corroborative witness, etc.), lawyers may not understand words that they read in a tutorial article or terms that a prospective marketing agency uses over the phone.

Knowledge is power, and knowing important PPC terms will help you find the right marketing agency to help you and make intelligent, informed decisions about your campaigns.

Below is a list of 31 essential PPC definitions that we believe every lawyer dabbling in PPC, looking to hire a marketing agency, or currently working with a marketing agency should know (if you don’t know already!)


1. Ad copy

This one is pretty self-explanatory (as are a few of the other terms on the list). Ad copy is the wording of the headline, the body text, and the URL of the search ad. It has one goal: to get users to click on your ad. Ad copy for lawyers needs to be relevant to the search term, persuasive, informative, and create urgency.


2. Ad extensions

Ad extensions are extra pieces of information that you can add to a PPC ad. These extensions help your ad stand out and also give users more incentives to click. Google says that ad extensions can boost click-through rates by 10-15%! There are several different types of ad extensions, and you can feature things like price, web page links, ratings, and more.

3. Ad group

An ad group is a set of ads that target related keywords. Google recommends three keywords in an ad group, but we’ve tested it and know that SKAGs are a better way to structure your ad groups (see definition below). Think of an ad group as a level of account and campaign organization. You can make certain changes “at the ad group level”, meaning that will affect all of the ads in that ad group.

4. Bidding

Google is an auction system. When someone enters a keyword you are targeting into Google search, Google runs an auction, takes your bid into consideration, and shows the ads of the highest bidders. A bid is the maximum price that you want to spend for a click for a keyword that you target with your paid ads. If you have the highest bid, your ad is shown first. There are different bid strategies you can use, and you can optimize bids based on performance.

5. Bounce rate

The term “bounce” is referring to a session on your website where a user visits your page and then leaves before viewing any other pages on your site. The bounce rate is the ratio of users who bounce after visiting your page (a percentage). Average bounce rates range from 26% - 70% (26% - 40% is considered great). For some pages, a high bounce rate may not be a bad thing (for example, someone goes to your website just to find a phone number and then calls, or just to find an address and then visit your location). High bounce rates are bad when people aren’t converting. A poor user experience, subpar content, technical issues, and slow loading speed could all be reasons why a bounce rate is high.

6. Call extensions

These are also known as click-to-call ads. These ad extensions allow you to place your firm’s phone number in that ad so that users can click the number (really, click the whole ad)  and call you. These ads are great for lawyers since phone calls are super valuable, but should always be used in conjunction with other ads since these leads tend to be less qualified.

7. Call out extensions

Not to be confused with call extensions, call out extensions are a type of ad extension that allows you to promote certain offers beneath the text of your ad (free case evaluation, low retainer, etc.)

8. Call to action (CTA)

A CTA is any action that you want web users and website visitors to take. When they view your ad, the call to action should be to click or call; once they’re on your website, the call to action could be to call, to fill out a form, to sign up for a newsletter or blog subscription, to view a webinar, etc. You always want the CTA to be crystal clear, and you don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many CTAs or buttons.

9. Change history

This is a Google Ads tool that lets you view all of the changes you’ve made in your account within the last two years. You can filter for certain changes like bid adjustments, status changes, keyword additions, etc., and you can also filter by a specific date range (last 30 days, February - March, etc.)

10. Click-through rate (CTR)

Think of this as users click to get through your ad and to your website. The CTR is a ratio of the number of clicks against the number of times the ad was shown (or more simply, a percentage of the times that your ad was clicked after a user saw it). It’s a number used to measure performance! The average CTR for the legal industry in 2019 was 2.93 on search and .59 on GDN (Google Display Network). If you are lower than industry averages, something is likely wrong with your ads.

11. Conversion

Conversions are actions that you want website visitors to take such as filling out a form, calling your office, downloading a guide, registering for a webinar, booking a consultation, etc. You set specific conversion goals in order to understand how your PPC campaigns are working for you.

12. Conversion rate

The conversion rate is the number of conversions divided by the number of clicks. High conversion rates are desirable because it means that your ad campaign is successfully turning a click into a conversion.

13. Cost-per-click (CPC)

You only pay Google when a user clicks your ad. The CPC is the amount that you pay to Google for one individual click on your ad that brings one user to your website. This varies based on the keywords you’re targeting and the industry you are in. For lawyers, the cost per click can be really expensive because competition is high.

14. Cost-per-lead (CPL)

The CPL is the cost it takes to generate a lead. This can be calculated by dividing your total marketing spend by the number of leads the campaign generated. This number is always going to be higher than your CPC, and for lawyers, the CPL is high in general. An average CPL might be anywhere from $200 - $400 for a single lead, but of course this depends on your legal specialty.

15. Geotargeting

This is a campaign setting that gives you the option to only serve ads in certain locations. You can choose to target users only in certain countries, regions, states, cities, neighborhoods, etc. Depending on what type of firm you have and how many locations you have, geotargeting can be an incredibly important aspect of your campaigns. If you can only practice law in Florida, you don’t want to waste money on clicks that come from Tennessee. And if your office is in Miami, and you can only practice in Florida, it makes no sense that someone from Jacksonville would choose to hire you instead of a local attorney, so you should limit your ad’s reach to Miami’s surrounding areas.

16. Geofencing


Geofencing is slightly different from geotargeting. You draw a digital fence around your office’s location(s), and Google uses GPS technology to track user data. When users are physically inside your fence (driving by, walking by, eating at a restaurant nearby), your ads are served on their devices.  


17. Impressions


Impressions are the number of times that your ad is shown to users. If you have high impressions, but low click and conversion rates, something is wrong with your ad or audience targeting. If you have low impressions, but high click and conversion rates, you can scale your campaigns to get better results.


18. Key performance indicator (KPI)

This is a performance measurement that indicates your success in the areas that are most important to your firm. These will vary depending on your legal specialty, but may include numbers like your CPA (cost per acquisition - the cost to acquire a brand-new client), your conversion rate, your CTR, the lifetime value of a client, etc. When you improve your firm’s KPIs, your firm grows.

19. Keyword

Keywords are specific words or phrases that you target that trigger your ads. When a user includes the keyword or a variation of the keyword you are targeting in their search term, your ad is shown in the search results.

20. Landing page

Landing pages are stand-alone, hyper focused website pages that users are directed to after clicking on your PPC ad. The only goal of a landing page is a conversion. It does not have links to other pages where users can get lost. Landing pages should be extremely relevant to the search term and have clear calls to action.

21. Longtail keyword

Longtail keywords are keyword phrases with two or more words (“personal injury lawyer near me”). These keywords are more specific, resulting in more qualified traffic, and sometimes less competitive.

22. Match types

This is a way for you to control when your ad triggers a particular search query/keyword. You can choose to get more volume by allowing synonyms and related searches to trigger your ad (broad match, broad match modifier), or you can restrict it (phrase match, exact match). Google has frustratingly expanded the definition of match types over the last year, which gives you less control, but match types are still an important factor in the quality of the clicks.

23. Negative keywords

Negative keywords are sometimes included in the conversation about match types, but they are much more important than the four listed above and have a different function. Negative keywords help you exclude terms that you do not want to trigger your ad. Not constantly adding negative keywords and checking your negative keywords lists can lead to a lot of wasted spend. They’re particularly important for lawyers. Because clicks are so expensive, you can’t afford to waste clicks. For example, if you’re targeting “car accident lawyer”, Google can show your ad to somebody who searched for “car accident lawyer for property damage”. This person probably isn’t injured and doesn’t have a case. If you add “property” as a negative keyword, Google would keep your ad from being shown to anyone whose search term includes “property”.

24. Quality score (QS)

Google uses a partially undisclosed algorithm that determines whether your keywords are relevant to your ads and landing pages. The higher your QS, the higher your ad rank will be and the less your bids will cost.

25. Remarketing

This gives you the ability to serve ads to users who have already interacted with your firm somehow (followed you on social media, visited any page on your website, etc.) as they browse the internet. You can serve ads on YouTube, on the Google Display Network, and on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. It is much easier to convert someone who is already familiar with you and your legal services. Remarketing ads are much cheaper than regular ads. Because hiring a lawyer is a big decision and many people will visit several legal websites before making a decision, it’s important to use remarketing ads to stay in front of your prospective clients and remind them of who you are.

26. ROI

ROI stands for “Return On Investment”. This is a performance measurement used to evaluate how efficient your investments (in this case, your marketing investments) are. It directly compares cost to return; to calculate your ROI, divide the current value of your investment minus the cost of your investment by the cost of your investment. You always want your ROI to be climbing higher. If your marketing is working, it will be.

27. Search query

The search query is what the user types into the search bar on Google. If their query contains your keywords, your ad will be shown.

28. SEO

Stands for search engine optimization. This is an organic (unpaid) way to rank on Google for keywords related to your legal services. You structure your site and content in such a way that Google sees you as a quality source and starts to refer you naturally to people who enter legal search queries. However, it can take years to rank, which is why we always recommend PPC over SEO (although ideally they will be done in tandem).


29. SERP

The SERP is the search engine results page. This is the page of organic and paid search results that you see and that users see when they type search queries into Google. The top space on the search (first three positions) are usually taken up by ads.

30. SKAGs

SKAGs stands for single-keyword ad groups. This is a controversial topic in the PPC industry and one we are SUPER passionate about. Using a SKAGs account structure - where you only put one keyword in each ad group, as opposed to three or more - allows you to have highly relevant ads and improve your performance.

31. Split test

Also known as an A/B test, a split test is a controlled test of two versions of an ad or landing page where you can control variables to see which performs better. We ALWAYS recommend conducting a split test when making important changes so you can rest assured that your changes are data-driven.

Want to know more about legal PPC or ramp up your PPC efforts? Contact us for a free account audit! Empirical360 is a Google Premier Partner agency that specializes in attorney marketing. We know how to get you more phone calls, a lower lead cost, and more qualified cases!













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