How Lawyers Can Squeeze More Out Of Their PPC Budgets

Many lawyers are nervous to really be aggressive with their PPC (pay per click) advertising on search engines like Google or Bing because they think it is too expensive, and some are nervous to do it at all. Well, it is expensive.

How Lawyers Can Squeeze More Out Of Their PPC Budgets

Many lawyers are nervous to really be aggressive with their PPC (pay per click) advertising on search engines like Google or Bing because they think it is too expensive, and some are nervous to do it at all.

Well, it is expensive. Legal keywords are the most expensive, and attorneys have one of the highest cost per click and cost per acquisition rates of any industry. For lawyers, advertising on search is more of an investment than social media marketing or some other forms of advertising. Many solo attorneys or smaller firms look at the initial cost and decide their money could get them a better ROI somewhere else.

But that’s not what the data shows; PPC is the BEST way to get a high ROI, provided it’s done correctly. And even though keywords for lawyers are expensive, you don’t have to be a big firm to see the results you want from a smaller budget if you have a good strategy in place.  

Here are some recommendations we make for small law firms that want to start PPC with a small budget!

Remarketing is all-important

If you have a smaller budget, you need to always be asking “What is the cheapest way to acquire a new customer?”. It’s going to be much more expensive to acquire a brand-new client, someone who has never interacted with your firm, than it will be to acquire clients who have already worked with you, who are already familiar with your firm, or who have family and friends that you have helped.  Remarketing ads target that second group of users. These ads are much cheaper to run, and they have a higher ROAS. You can run them on search and on the GDN (Google Display Network).

Frequently update your negative keyword lists and check your search term reports

Negative keywords are how you control your campaigns. We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve seen attorneys or agencies who market for attorneys  just not check the search term reports or negative keyword lists regularly, which baffles us. If you want to get rid of wasted spend, this is one of the main ways to do it!

Negative keyword lists let Google/Microsoft know what keywords you DON’T want your ads to show for. For example, if you are a personal injury lawyer, you probably don’t want your ad to be triggered by “car accident lawyer for property damage”, since that person probably doesn’t have a case and isn’t injured. But you do want your ad to be triggered by “car accident injury claim” or “car accident lawyer”. You can add the negative keyword “property” to keep the people who don’t have cases from costing you money on clicks.

You should be checking at least once a day anyway, regardless of your budget, but having strong, up-to-date negative keyword lists is particularly critical for small budgets.

Segment EVERYTHING and adjust accordingly – especially bids

PPC can be incredibly precise, which is exactly what you need when you’re operating on a tight budget. If you lump everything together and target generally, you’re going to blow budget and not even know where it’s going or where it should be going. So segment! Segment by location – target specific zip codes where you want your clients to come from. This will vary depending on your legal specialty and what you know about the clientele in your state, but most people want a lawyer they don’t have to travel more than an hour to see, and so you should be careful to target the neighborhoods and cities closest to you (unless you’re an immigration lawyer or dealing with federal jurisdiction, where you can expand your reach). Segment by device so you know if you need to spend more money on desktop or mobile or tablet, and which ones you need to drop completely – even though for most other industries you’ll see better performance with mobile, a higher percentage of people tend to search for lawyers on desktop. Segment by time of day and time of week so you can get creative with ad scheduling; if most of your clicks are coming in before 4, after 4pm you can decrease your bids to save spend. PPC without segmentation is a black box operation that will not put you in the black.

Bid on branded terms

If you don’t bid on branded terms, you’re missing out on reaching the people who are the most likely to convert! Don’t do that! Think about it – if someone is searching for your brand, they have heard about you. Maybe they’ve seen your billboard, maybe a friend has told them what you were able to do for their cousin, but they are searching for your name because they’re either at least interested in your legal services or ready to convert and hire you. You may think that a search for your name will surely result in a web visit, but you may be surprised at how many of your competitors are bidding on your brand in order to appear above you in the SERP (search engine results page). Or you may find that your organic presence isn’t as good as you believed (for smaller firms this is particularly important). Bid on branded terms, because they show high intent, and that’s what you need on a limited budget.

Run call-only campaigns


We’ve written a separate article on how call-only ads can be particularly profitable for lawyers. Basically, call-only ads direct users who click your ads right to your phone number and to a member of your office waiting on the other side who can discuss their case.

As long as you have trained and experience personnel you trust ready to answer the phones, this can be a cost-effective choice for smaller budget accounts, because rather than taking the chance that users will convert by sending them to a static website, you are putting them in touch with someone who can answer their questions, gather more information about them for follow-up purposes, or persuade them to convert.

Track the right data

Guessing is the quickest way to blow through a budget, especially in PPC. If you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, you’re not agile. You can’t make the best decisions – you might make a good move on accident, but you won’t know if there’s a better move out there you could be making. USE THE DATA. Rely heavily on analytics to guide your choices about optimization for your legal PPC account. Set up conversion tracking so you know exactly where all of your traffic is coming from (including custom conversions, calls, clicks, and website submissions). In order to conserve your budget and spend it efficiently, you need to know your highest performing sources.

Side with SKAGs

SKAGs (single keyword ad groups) are hotly debated in the PPC world (and so we’ve written an article for lawyers on this topic as well). Instead of including multiple keywords in one themed ad group, like Google/Microsoft suggest, you place each distinct keyword in its own ad group. Haters say it’s too messy and ineffective. We’ve tested it, and we know that for us, it’s always increased relevance and decreased cost for attorneys. We use them for any budget, but if you are trying to cut down on lead cost, SKAGs is one of the best tools in your belt.

Did you find these tips helpful? Want to learn more about what it takes to get your dream cases and clients to come to you using PPC? Empirical360 is a Google Premier Partner that has extensive experience creating revenue for our legal clients. Get in touch with us to find out about how we can grow your firm’s business!

Get in contact now with our specialist

Please enter your information and we will contact you. Once you fill out the form you will be taken to a calendar if you would like to book a call with us!