PPC For Law Firms: 2021 Guide to Google Ads (AdWords) & Remarketing

When an important new decision, recall, or litigation trend hits the news, your law firm needs to seize the moment and capture attention while the subject is fresh. However, there’s a problem: depending on your site, organic search rankings can take weeks or longer to gain traction. By then, others have already jumped on the freshness of the opportunity using paid search and weeks worth of potential leads have passed with it. Why leave potential clients on the table?

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) can help give your firm a quick visibility boost. The concept is simple and can be turned on/off like a faucet. Here’s how the PPC model works:

  • You bid money on keyword phrases and audiences which are relevant to the traffic you’re chasing.
  • Websites and related search queries show your ad.
  • You pay every time somebody clicks on the ad and visits your website.

What Makes Our PPC Services For Lawyers Different?

We Aren’t Motivated To Push For Higher Budgets

Many agencies have high monthly ad spend minimums, charge a high markup (20%+), and constantly push for more budget. That’s not how we operate.

In fact, we often “work ourselves out of a job” because of our outstanding law firm SEO work. For instance, when we start working with a new client, we will often build and manage Google Ads campaigns to get their phone ringing right away. As the client’s keyword rankings improve, they start to receive more leads through organic search – thereby allowing us to scale down your PPC budget without losing lead volume. Smaller firms in particular appreciate this approach, since they don’t have the staff necessary to handle leads from both organic and paid search.

Even if you engage us for only PPC advertising (not SEO, web design or anything else), we will help you be more profitable without pushing for $15K, $20K, or even $50K monthly budgets if your cash flow does not allow.

We Communicate Often About Lead Quality

If we see a lead come in through your PPC campaigns, you’ll usually receive an email from us within the hour. We want to know if you are getting leads and cases from our advertising efforts, and your feedback helps us make real-time decisions about which keywords we bid on, which audiences we target, and which ad copy is working.

We Track Conversions Down to the Call and Email Level

Everyone uses Google Analytics (including us), but that only tracks surface-level click activity on your website. It’s valuable information, but doesn’t let us know if someone had a meaningful phone conversation with you or sent a legitimate email.

We install call tracking on your website that lets us see caller information, call duration, and more. We can then trace these calls back to your ad campaign and report meaningful ROI data.

The forms we build in WordPress also allow us to export the contents of those forms, so we’ll know if the “form submission leads” you’re receiving are legitimate or spammy.

Some Of Our Recent Results

Spanish Personal Injury Display Advertising in LA

Before the pandemic, we worked with an LA-based personal injury firm serving the Spanish speaking community. Display advertising proved much more profitable than search advertising in this region, and we generated 582 leads (actual phone calls and form submissions) on $45K in total budget during the life of the campaign. The cost per lead (CPL) was $77.

Personal Injury Display Advertising in Boston

We currently partner with a Boston-based injury law firm to generate workers’ compensation and personal injury leads in both English and Spanish. With search clicks north of $150 apiece, we turned to display advertising yet again – and by only the second month of the campaign, we were generating real phone calls and emails for $120 apiece. The secret – custom intent audiences for law firms.

Spanish/English Car Accident Search Ads in NYC

The car accident market in NYC is hyper-competitive. In order to maximize each click, we built campaigns with compelling call-only ads, limited the campaigns to mobile devices, and used CallRail tracking numbers to measure results. So far, the campaigns have spent $6,500, earned 29 calls and emails, and incurred a $224 cost per contact (considering the fact that a click for car accident phrase in NYC is around $180.00, this CPL is remarkable).

Criminal Defense Advertising in NJ

In February 2021, a criminal defense client in Atlantic City, NJ spent $6,780.02 on English Google display and search ads. He received 48 phone calls and 2 form submissions, bringing his cost per lead to $135.60.

Why is Pay-Per-Click Advertising So Complicated?

On the surface, this advertising model is simple – you define audiences or keywords you want to target, and you tell Google how much you are willing to spend on a click. If only it were so easy.

Ridiculously Expensive CPCs (Cost Per Click) For Lawyers

We alluded to this above, but car accident search terms can cost close to $200 apiece in certain markets these days. We routinely see clicks for $160, $170, even $180 for phrases like “car accident lawyer near me.”


Are those clicks worth it? Yes, they can be. If a case is worth $30K and it cost you $1,500 to sign it, that’s a good return. But it doesn’t leave any margin for error. We are also able to mitigate this cost through some advanced display advertising techniques (more on this below), but leads are still expensive.

Convoluted Campaign Settings in Google Ads

Google Ads can be convoluted, and sometimes it seems like all they want to do is trick you into spending more money. If you don’t toggle a few switches in your Location Settings, for instance, your ads can show in different states or counties, even if you have specified a target radius already. If you don’t enable their automated smart bidding algorithms, your “optimization score” in Google Ads will suffer. We can help you navigate the challenges in Google Ads and get the best return possible for your money.

Misaligned Keyword Phrases and Intent

Thousands of people every month Google “assault lawyer near me,” but are they searching for a criminal defense lawyer, a personal injury lawyer, or a domestic attorney? Who knows. If you are bidding on that particular phrase, you are probably wasting a lot of money.

You need to use your Google Search Console data, the Google Keyword Planner, and even the SERPs themselves (see the “people also ask” feature) to determine intent and bid accordingly.

Another great example is “car accident lawyer.” You probably want cases where people are injured, but many folks will search for that phrase simply because they need help with their insurance company. You will need to avoid those clicks by writing specific ad copy and pursuing other methods.

How To Generate Leads with Google Ads (AdWords) Management For Law Firms

The level of customization available within a Google Ads campaign is only limited by how creative you can get in your research and execution – here are some specific methods and channels.

Paid Search Advertising For Attorneys

Search advertisements appear on Google’s (or Bing, among others) search engine results pages (SERPs). When you type in a phrase, advertisers can bid on keywords that appear in your query; the winning advertisements get shown in the SERPs:

ppc for law firms

It’s a fairly straight-forward process: you set your geographic targeting, choose keywords you want to bid on (such as “personal injury lawyer near me”), and write your text ads. Obviously, there’s much more to it than that, but that is the gist.

Should You Use Text Ads, Call-Only Ads, or Dynamic Search Ads?

Firstly, we recommend that you avoid Google’s dynamic search ads. The user interface tries to manipulate users into building these, but they aren’t as targeted as manually-written ads. For those unfamiliar with dynamic search ads: you will load a set of headlines and descriptions into a template, and Google will dynamically mix and match those snippets depending on the search query.

But what about standard text ads? In our experience, these can be very effective at generating leads. You’ll be able to add sitelinks to other sections of your website, add a call extension that will show on mobile devices, and more. We certainly recommend A/B testing different variations with elements like the following:

  • Test different CTAs, like “Call For Free” or “Get Free Case Review”
  • Highlight your firm’s combined years of experience
  • Highlight total monetary awards earned, or something similar

Our favorite search ad type for attorneys, at the moment, is the revamped Call Ad in Google Ads. This ad type shows on mobile devices, and when someone clicks, the ad opens their phone app. The searcher then has to simply click the “call” button in their phone to get in touch. You can track these calls in Google Ads, and you can also use a CallRail number to measure ROI more effectively.

Display Advertising for Attorneys Through Google Ads

One way to mitigate the cost of expensive search clicks is to invest in a highly targeted display campaign on Google Ads. Display ads are the pieces of creative that you see floating around on websites, web pages, and on social media platforms.

In the right hands, display campaigns can reach people who are interested in your practice area, have need for a lawyer, and who have recently been searching for terms like “lawyers in [city]”, “personal injury lawyer in [geo],” and “defense attorney near me.” Google’s display targeting gets better every year, and between Custom Intent Audience targeting and manual ad placements on targeted websites, you can generate a significant amount of leads. Highly targeted display ad clicks typically cost less than $2 for lawyers.

Retargeting For Law Firms

Retargeting With Google Ads

As you may have noticed, Google Ads severely limits retargeting for law firms. You can build retargeting audiences in Google Analytics, but Google will often disable those audiences because of privacy concerns in the legal space. You may even be able to run a genuine retargeting campaign in Google Ads for a week or two, but Google will almost always get around to canceling that campaign.

So what should you do?

Retargeting With AdRoll

AdRoll, another display advertising platform, does allow law firms to remarket to previous website visitors. You just need to drop the AdRoll pixel into the code on your website, populate the audience until it meets AdRoll’s minimum audience threshold, load your display ads into your campaign, and set it live.

AdRoll clicks generally cost more than Google Ads clicks, in our experience, but their publisher inventory is high quality and these ads can generate leads for a fairly low amount of money.

Facebook Remarketing For Law Firms

Generally speaking, retargeting is the only strategy we pursue in Facebook Ads. We’ll make sure your Facebook Ad Account is set up properly, drop the Facebook pixel onto your site, then let that audience grow for a few weeks until it has at least 1,000 users.

Then we either run native retargeting ads on Facebook/Instagram itself, or we run ads on other sites within their publisher network.

Get In Touch For More Information

We’ve helped law firms in every practice area across the United States – SEO for personal injury lawyers and criminal defense lawyer marketing included. We’ve helped dozens of firms earn cost-effective leads through PPC advertising, and we’d love to do the same for you. Furthermore, we can help you set up local service ads for law firms. It’s always free to chat, so get in touch if you would like to discuss your goals.

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