Pay-per-click advertising is a popular method for personal injury law firms to generate high-quality leads by paying publishers to show ads on their platforms. You can purchase PPC ads that show up as emails, social media posts, website images, and more, but the most common method is to advertise on Google's search engine results pages.
As many as 96% of people seeking legal advice turn to search engines for help. Having PPC ads on some of Google’s results pages means potential clients become exposed to your brand or even convert immediately into leads. This makes digital advertising, like pay-per-click ads, very appealing to law firms looking to get right in front of their target customers.
These benefits can come at a high cost, though. Bidding on PPC keywords for personal injury lawyers is expensive, and you have to pay each time someone clicks on your ad, whether or not they contact you. To discover if PPC is worth it for PI attorneys, you need to do some research, set a budget, and run some tests.
Is PPC Worth It for Personal Injury Lawyers?
When PPC is set up strategically and reviewed on a regular basis for ad performance, it can generate qualified leads for your practice. The value of PPC depends on how much you are willing to budget and whether you think that budget will bring you enough leads.
When someone searches for a keyword you bid on, your ad will appear in the search results. Where a PPC ad sits on Google’s results page is key to understanding what drives its value.
Take, for example, this search result:
Pay-per-lead and pay-per-click ads sit at the top of these search results. To see the pages that aren’t ads (the organic results), the searcher would need to scroll past the ads and a map.
Since most people don’t scroll to the bottom of the search results, having a higher placement on the page means it’s more likely someone will click on the ad.
PI firms that want to buy ad space bid on these keywords, driving the price up. After all, depending on the injuries involved, getting even a handful of cases per quarter could yield a solid return on investment for a personal injury firm.
Bidding on ads can quickly become expensive, with some keywords costing hundreds of dollars each time someone clicks. For example, the cost per click (CPC) for the keyword car accident lawyer sits at $170.
Adding PPC to your marketing mix is a powerful way to generate high-quality leads for your law firm in conjunction with other marketing activities. It's a great option when your website is new and just getting its legs because this allows your firm to show up on the search engine results page when they wouldn’t otherwise.
But, because it’s so expensive, you shouldn’t rely on Google PPC alone for law firm leads. There are several alternatives worth considering, such as:
Investing in PPC can help your business achieve visibility with your target market while you wait for slower-moving elements of your marketing plan, like SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing, to take effect.
Over time, consider reducing your PPC spend as otherwise, you're paying for artificial rankings. Law firm PPC campaigns should become secondary to SEO.
Organic rankings are more sustainable than paying for ads. With content marketing, you pay once for the content, which then goes on to rank if the person making it knows what they are doing. With PPC, however, you are constantly spending good money to appear in the search results.
If you're still interested in using PPC either as part of your new law firm marketing plan or to bolster some of the SEO results you're already getting, there are a few steps to follow to make that happen.
1. Create a Google Ads Account
Before running ads on Google, you’ll need to set up an account with the platform.
Most attorneys turn to marketing and advertising experts to help them set up and run their Google Ads accounts. This helps ensure everything is set up correctly and ad campaigns run the way they should.
If you want to set up an ads account on your own, you can go to ads.google.com to sign up. We also recommend reading this guide from Google while setting up your account.
2. Select the Right Keywords
Not every click on your ad will result in a phone call or even a legitimate case you want to take on, so be careful setting your expectations with PPC ads. Selecting the right personal injury keywords to improve your odds of getting valuable personal injury leads is important.
Since finding and evaluating keywords can be a complex process, most personal injury lawyers hire online marketing firms to handle keyword research and PPC campaigns' implementation.
If you want to start exploring keywords on your own, some tools can help make the process easier for you.
One way to find keywords is by searching for terms on Google and using certain tools like the Surfer SEO chrome extension to get a broad overview of the cost per click and search volume for those keywords. These metrics can help you qualify keywords you might want to add to your list of advertising targets.
For example, in the image below, the broad phrase atlanta personal injury lawyer has an estimated search volume of 4,400 per month and a cost per click of $145.
This is a very high CPC because Atlanta is a big market with heavy competition, and this is a broad keyword. The broadness of this term could bring all kinds of calls to your office, but not all of them may fit your target profile.
The more narrow term atlanta pedestrian accident lawyer initially seems more affordable from a cost per click standpoint at $28, but the search volume is much lower. It may not be a good pick because fewer people are searching for these terms, so fewer people are likely to see the ads.
Selecting keywords this way is a slow and tedious process, but you could put together a list of target keywords with some trial and error.
A more efficient way to find keywords in bulk is to use the Google Ads Keyword Planner inside your Google Ads account.
Once you’ve set up your account, you can use this tool to discover new keywords based on topics you know you want to target.
In Keyword Planner, enter a general list of phrases you'd like information on and click "get started."
The tool will output a list of related phrases and important metrics like average CPC and clickthrough rate (CTR).
Use your research to come up with a master list of keywords. Look for a balance between:
- Estimated cost per click
- Search volume
- Searcher’s intent for that keyword (for example, are they looking for educational information, or are they ready to hire an attorney?)
An even more efficient way to find and plan ad keywords is to use specialized marketing tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush. Marketing and PPC advertising experts use these tools to quickly find and assess large quantities of valuable keywords you could use in your advertising campaigns.
3. Competitor Research
If you have an active SEO campaign for your law firm, there's a good chance you already know some of the most desirable keyword phrases for reaching your target market.
If you don’t, Google Ads offers an easy-to-use competitor research tool to view the other law firms looking to place ads for those same keywords. Check out the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool withing Google Ads and then:
- Enter the keyword phrase you want
- Enter your city and zip code for your audience and device
- Preview on mobile and desktop
This will show you which firms are advertising for each of the selected keywords in your area. It’s a great way to figure out how you should write the copy for your own ads.
You can also use tools like SEMRush to see what terms your competition is bidding on, estimates of how much they spend on ads, and how they have their campaigns configured.
You can also keep an eye on which competitors are advertising in your area whenever you search for a term related to your business. Using tools like SurferSEO, you get insights into your competitors' spending.
For example, in the search above, you can learn that cost per click is very high at over $200, but one law firm has placed a Google ad here. If a competitor is bidding on that term, it may be worth considering for your campaign.
4. Set a Reasonable Budget
Many factors will influence your budget, including:
- Your revenue and marketing budget
- Your average winnings per successful case
- The size of your firm
- The competitiveness of your local market
Try to set a realistic PPC budget based on what you know about your local area from your competitor research. You might invest more than the minimum if your firm is new or you have no SEO traction yet for your website.
Personal injury law firms should plan to spend at least $2,000 to $4,500 per month on Google Ads. In bigger markets with more competition, plan to spend more. According to Hanapin Marketing's 2019-2020 State of PPC Marketing Report, 79% of marketers say that PPC benefits their company, so investing the right funds can lead to a big payoff.
5. Learn How Bidding on Ads Works
Each time you plan to launch a Google Ad, it's not a guarantee that your ad will be placed at the top of the list or in the list at all. This is because PPC works on a bidding system. Your bid is what you're willing to spend to secure your ad's placement at the top of the search results.
Here are a few things to know about bidding with PPC ads:
- The process favors those willing to place the highest bids
- The prominence of the keyword determines how much you and other advertisers are willing to spend to get listed there
- Sometimes, placing high bids just to have a chance to get featured in this section of search results doesn't always yield an ROI
For your ad to get clicks, someone has to see it in the first place. You need a strong bid to put yourself in the running for that, but always balance this with the possibility of getting a click or other valuable actions from a search engine user.
Since this is tricky, many personal injury and workers' compensation lawyers prefer to work with experienced marketing teams to set these campaigns up and monitor their progress.
6. Set Your Campaign Type and Goals
Multiple kinds of ads can be run through the PPC network. Most lawyers will want to select "search" when setting up the campaign. Other campaign types include display, shopping, video, and smart ads.
Note that unless you toggle display ads off once the campaign starts, your ads will also show up there. We recommend turning display ads off to ensure you get the best performance and the most accurate data for your personal injury PPC campaigns.
When it comes to setting goals, you have two options: a phone call or a click on a website page.
When creating your ad groups, you can also block certain keywords to narrow down your ad placement. These are called negative keywords.
7. Use Ad Extensions to Stand Out in the Results
Ad extensions are the extra details shown below your primary ad copy. They help make your ad more compelling, increasing your chances of earning a click.
For example, the first ad in the image below uses the sitelinks ad extension to insert two indented links underneath the main link. The second ad does not use any ad extensions.
The first ad takes up more space on the search results page and gives searchers more opportunities to click on the ad. The firm with the first ad has tripled its chances of a conversion compared to the second firm—all by using a simple ad extension.
Here are some examples of common ad extensions you could add to your ads:
- Sitelinks add extra links to other pages on your site
- Call extensions add a click-to-call feature with your phone number
- Price extensions add a price feature for products
- Location extensions add a Google maps link to your add
- Lead form extensions allow users to fill out contact forms directly from the results page
- Structured snippets add lists of services to your ad
8. Create Conversion-Focused Landing Pages
There's no point in investing funds for PPC ads if you're not driving the traffic to a highly-converting, well-written landing page. Your landing pages should focus on the prospective client's legal problem and your firm's experience and unique value proposition to help with that problem.
Good landing pages should:
- Be directly aligned with the searcher's intent (for example, someone who searches for spinal cord injuries should be taken to a page about spinal cord cases specifically)
- Be more sales-focused than other kinds of website content
- Position your firm as a leader in the market for these kinds of cases
- Have one clear call-to-action (CTA), such as calling your firm for a free consultation
- Reduce the number of other distractions on the page, such as navigation elements, so that the only choice presented to the user is the CTA
9. Know How You Will Track and Measure Results
Make sure you spend time each month looking at your PPC campaign’s performance. You can adjust your budget or expectations accordingly. It can be overwhelming and very time-consuming to do this on your own, especially since PPC ads for lawyers have a lot of nuances.
Look at your ad campaigns frequently for things like:
- Overall ad spend
- Conversion rate
- Click-through rate (CTR)
Thankfully, marketing experts can evaluate your local market and set up campaigns for you. They can handle a process to regularly optimize your ads to increase your numbers of potential clients.
Now that you know the best tips for optimal Google Ads results, you need to decide if it's worth the investment for your personal injury law firm.
PPC is Expensive for Personal Injury Lawyers
Compared with other practice areas, PPC campaigns for personal injury firms are among the most expensive. Most accident attorneys have to pay a lot for this method of advertising legal services.
Look at the average cost-per-click for some generic keywords for three different types of attorneys in the Boston market.
Here you see that similar keywords for an immigration firm and a family lawyer have a much lower cost per click than the same generic keyword for a personal injury firm in the same market.
Most Expensive PPC Keywords for Personal Injury Lawyers
Since other law firms are also bidding on keywords, the competition will also drive up the average spend on PPC ads. Here are 75 of the most expensive keywords for personal injury lawyers:
With CPC rates this high, it’s easy to see why attorneys question the value of Google PPC for their firms. It all comes down to whether you think that you can get an adequate return on ad spend.
It’s also easy to understand why relying solely on PPC is unsustainable in the long run. By diversifying your marketing mix with content marketing or search engine optimization, you can get similar, or better, results while spending significantly less per month.
Final Thoughts for Using PPC Ads in Your Marketing Mix
When ramping up digital marketing for new clients in your law firm, PPC marketing can help generate early results. They can also work as part of your ongoing marketing efforts. Over time, however, try to rely more on organic search engine rankings that position your firm as an authority in your practice areas.
Rankings.io is committed to helping personal injury lawyers get consistent results with quality leads through search engine optimization. We help you build your marketing campaigns with best practices and industry knowledge. If you need more support getting your marketing strategies in place, contact us today for a deeper dive into SEO with a free consultation.