Our Law Firm Adwords Aren’t Driving Leads. What Do We Do?

Growing law firms in Australia and the USA since 2009.

A significant and growing number of law firms are being forced to run ads for no other reason than they simply cannot get traffic to their website.

For competitive search terms, you will find plenty of law firms trying to outrank each other with SEO, but let’s face it, only one can be position #1, which leads to a plethora of firms paying for position.

There are usually 2 reasons why firms don’t deploy Adwords, the first of which is the cost (it can be extraordinarily expensive) and the other, predicated on the falsity that because you don’t click on Ads, no-one else will.

The most common reasons that Adwords don’t work for your law firm usually derive from the fact that you’re doing it yourself, you’re not paying enough or the methodology or practice is fundamentally flawed.

You’re Doing it Yourself or You Have Someone in Your Firm Who Knows How to Upload Content to the Website, and it follows that they Must Know How to Run Google & Facebook Ads.

Yes, there are plenty of firms out there that fit this description. We’ve been doing digital marketing solely for law firms for the last 10 years and I can say, that this aspect of marketing is incredibly complex. If your strategy is wrong from the outset, be prepared for your firm to blow a lot of money with little or no return. The cost of having an agency take care of this usually isn’t cost-prohibitive and most will charge in the vicinity of 10 – 15% of your monthly ad spend for their professional fees.

Take Home Message: Stop doing this work in-house.

You Have a Very Limited Budget

Let’s say you’re a personal injury law firm and you want to target “motor vehicle accident lawyers” keywords and related terms. Be prepared to spend in the vicinity of $35 – $135 per click depending on your location and the extent of search and competition. In some US cities, we’ve cited figures over and above this. That said, there may be some very good, what we call, long-tail search terms that may render good results. These search terms may not garner the same amount of traffic as those competitive terms, but the volume might convert at a higher degree, which makes the exercise profitable. For example, in family law, it might be a search term relating to “property settlement” of which if you deploy a marketing funnel to augment your ad that is about educating the potential client, but then deepening the engagement through further education possibilities (more about that next).

Take Home Message: You’re going to spend money, possibility quite a lot, of which invariably you won’t see a great return on in the early stages until significant testing and recalibration of the strategy starts to kick in.

Your Law Firm’s Adwords Methodology or Practice is Flawed.

With what we tell you here, you’ll likely start visiting your competitor’s ads and see big issues that are costing them plenty. Let’s break the issues down.

Poor Keyword Research

If you’re working with an agency that doesn’t understand or doesn’t work with law firms then it’s likely that the search terms they’re chasing for you are all over the shop. For example, in the keywords that they’re targeting for your ads, there will be a gamut of both terms that will never convert into dollars and those that are being misinformed by wrong semantics.

For example, in Australia, in reviewing plenty of law firm ad accounts, what you typically see are a splatter of keywords like, “divorce attorney, ” “alimony,” etc. (For our US lawyers, in Australia, we call Attorneys, Lawyers).

The wrong choice of keywords is a massive problem. The Adwords agency Disruptive found after auditing over 2,000 AdWords accounts, they found that in the average AdWords account, less than 6% of the keywords produce all of the conversions. So, working with an agency that understands the legal industry, preferably one that specialises, is a good start.

You might be thinking, well, if they’re the wrong keywords, then why not let them run, as no-one will click on them? A couple of reasons, the more efficient and effective your Adwords account is, Google will reward you for through both better positioning and a lesser cost-per-click and…yes, absurd as some keywords are, they will get clicked on and cost you money.

Notwithstanding this, we’ve seen plenty of campaigns based on senseless keyword terms like, “free legal advice,” “or “need Legal Aid,” or “Child Support Help.” These might be great keywords if you’re a community legal service, but invariably don’t work for the far majority of firms, yet cost them plenty.

Take Home Message: If you have an agency working for you, ask them for a list of every keyword they’re targeting.

The Account is Set Up Incorrectly

Not Grouping Keywords: Not using ad groups is one of the biggest mistakes law firms make. Rather than segmenting their ads into groups based on similar types of keywords, they roll all of them into one ad group and show everyone the same ad.

Not Using Negative Words: Not Using Negative Keywords: AdWords allows your law firm to use what we call “negative keywords” as a way to exclude keywords that are not a good match for your firm.

For example, if you run a family law practice, and don’t do binding financial agreements (prenups), then you don’t want to be running ads for “prenup lawyers ” you can add “prenups” as a negative keyword, and your ads won’t be shown for any searches that include the word “prenups.”

Not Testing: Adwords is by no means a set and forget practice. Your law firm needs to be constantly reviewing, optimising and testing both ad-copy and the corresponding landing pages.

Poorly Written Ads

Again, a derivative of working with agencies that don’t work in our industry is poorly written ad-copy that might work for a local shoe shop but isn’t going to work for a legal practice.

We use a platform that gives insight into all law firms running ad campaigns, showing their ads and clicks. It’s a great audit tool when it comes to understanding who is getting the paid traffic and why. You will find that a number of agencies use similar technology and if you’re looking to engage a crew to do this work, it’s probably useful to ask them for this research as well.

Now, ensuring your Ad copy matches your landing page, is vitally important. Not only will your conversions be higher if your ad sends the potential client to content that specifically matches the ad-copy, but Google will similarly reward you for your efficiency.

The far majority of law firms will run targeted ads, but then take the potential client to the firm’s homepage. It’s a big mistake!

Take Home Message: Check out the ads that are winning in your space and initially follow their practice and always take the potential client from an ad to the landing page that is synergistic.

No Landing Pages or Funnel

We know, as you probably do, that everyone that comes to your law firm’s website isn’t ready to sign a retainer just yet. It’s similarly the case with your ads that the majority of people will click on them and not convert. There are a variety of reasons why this is the case, but usually, it is based on the fact that people aren’t yet in the “buying” phase, but rather the “research” phase.

To cultivate and nurture the latter, you’re going to have to develop landing pages that are predicated on what we call a “funnel” approach. In other words, you want to consider the sequence from ad to conversion as a path with various side-roads along the way.

Accordingly, your landing page will make it very easy for someone to book an appointment which may cater for those ready to convert. But for those that aren’t, you may have a guide, a video, a webinar etc of which they subscribe to engage with, that then allows the opportunity for your firm to continue to lead them through the funnel to conversion points set along the way. This is achieved by augmenting your Adwords strategy with a CRM that will automate much of this follow-up sequence.

Take Home Message: Not everyone wants to engage your firm today. Ensure your landing pages are designed to cater to the buyer and the researcher.


Adwords when done well, has the capacity to grow your law firm significantly, but it also has the capacity of losing you a lot of money if not done well.

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