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Last Updated on September 23, 2021

So you want to advertise on Google and you want to do it yourself, but you don’t know where to get started? Well here are a few tips on setting up your Google AdWords account so it performs properly. WARNING: Do not take these lightly, as there are many pitfalls in setting up and running your account properly that can cause it to malfunction. And in the world of Google AdWords, a malfunction means it costs you more money per client or doesn’t produce clients for you!

Step 1) Keyword Research

First, you want to do some keyword research. Google has a free tool called the External Keyword Tool. Simply start with some words that you “think” your ideal prospect may be typing in to search for you. You will get a list of keywords that are related to this keyword that you can add to your Campaign. Try to think of the problem your prospect is having in related, non-legal terms as well and you will likely come up with some great keywords with less competition! For example if you do bankruptcy work, you may want to test some keywords such as collection harassment, credit card debt, debt settlement, debt consolidation, etc. Then use an ad that says “Being Harassed By Collectors? Bankruptcy Can Stop The Calls! Etc…” Simply sit down with your team and brainstorm these terms.

Step 2) Negative Keyword List

Next you want to create a negative keyword list. This is a list of terms that you do not want your ads triggered for. You should have a few negative terms already from building your keyword list. While sitting down with your team to build your list, brainstorm terms that you would definitely not want your ads triggered for as well. For example, if you were doing lemon law work, you would not want the terms lemon “recipe,” lemon “cake,” lemon “fruit” and may not want the terms “puppy” lemon law or “used car” lemon law. Once you are up and running, you can see how people are actually finding you and discover more negatives to add. These exclusions can not only save you money, but can also boost your Quality Score.

(Your Quality Score is primarily based on your click through rate and the relevance of the keyword used to the ads and the ads to the quality and relevance of your landing page. A high Quality Score means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click (CPC).)

Step 3) Account Structure

Google is organized by Campaign(s), then Ad groups, then keywords. Typically a lawyer’s account has few Campaigns, multiple Ad groups and lots of keywords. Using a spreadsheet you can list all your keywords in one column and then in the next column put the proper Ad group for each. Ad groups should contain a theme of closely related keywords. For example, DUI lawyer, DUI lawyers, DUI law firm, etc. may all be in one Ad group. Terms that are not indicative of a person already looking for a lawyer or attorney would then be in a different Ad group, such as DUI law or DUI penalties, where the person may still be in research mode. This is important for matching the searcher to the ad to the landing page, which affects your Quality Score.

When you have it filled out, you can sort by Ad group and refine. Once complete, decide if you need one or more Campaigns for your list of Ad groups. The settings you require will help you make this determination because only at the Campaign level, can you change your settings. If are doing business in multiple cities, you should probably break down your Campaigns by city. The Ad groups/Keywords in each city Campaign will likely be exact duplicates, except, of course, the different geographic keywords.

Step 4) Campaign(s) & Ad Group Set Up

Next you want to set up your Campaign(s) in Google. There are a few settings to be careful of using. You want to uncheck the box for “Content or Display Network” and run a Search Campaign only. The display network can be very valuable, but this should be a different Campaign (this article will only deal with the search network). You want to also make sure your ad serving option is set to “rotate evenly” so you can a/b test ads properly. Make sure your geographic locations are set up correctly as well. You don’t want to be the dummy who’s located in Boston and his dog bite ads are showing up in St. Louis!

Next you set up your Ad groups under each Campaign according to the group names you established when you did your keyword research.

Step 5) Ad Creation

Next you will need to create custom ads for each Ad group. Be aware of the character limits of your title and body. The ad space is small, so the trick is to be able to say what you want succinctly – which is sometimes very hard for us lawyers, I know! You should have at least 2 ads for each ad group that you can a/b test to find the winner. You want to make sure that the theme of the ad group is contained in the title of the ad and in the ad copy and in the URL if possible. These exact words will then show up in bold when your ad is triggered by using these keywords and this will help with your click-through-rate and quality score. Make sure your ads are compelling and have a clear call to action in them.

Although you can set your destination URL to your home page, you really want to set it to a specific landing page that contains more information specifically about the keyword used to find your ad. For example, if your ad says Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you will want to make sure your headline and copy on your landing page talk about Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Step 6) Conversion Tracking

Once you have your search Campaign(s) ready to go, your final step is to set up your analytics package. You can use Google Analytics for free. Your webmaster will be able to add the code to your site. Then you should add the column in your Google management interface that allows you to see the conversions and conversion percentage of every keyword, ad group and Campaign. This is a crucial component of your AdWords account as it allows you to zero in on whether a keyword is worth paying for. Simply put, if the conversion percentage is high, you’re doing something right, if it’s low, you’re doing something wrong! Google Analytics will also allow you to run reports on just about anything under the sun, such as where people are coming from, what they’re doing when they get there and what they’re using to find you.

Step 7) Monitor, Adjust, Test & Succeed!

Lastly, you want to monitor all the activity in your account daily and begin to adjust. First, you will need to a/b test your ads regularly to increase you click through rate – at least once per month. Second, you want to bid more for terms that are converting well at an acceptable cost per conversion. Third, you want to monitor keywords that are not converting and try to improve them. If you cannot improve them after appropriate testing, you will want to think about pausing them to save money. You will have to play with what ad position is best for your budget and account, whether it’s 1-3 or lower.

Well there you have it. And while this may seem incredibly basic to some readers, it’s surprising how many accounts are put together sloppily and then how many attorneys assume AdWords doesn’t work for their business.

People continuously ask, “Does AdWords/PPC for Attorneys really work?” and the answer is an overwhelming yes! As long as you are doing it right. To your PPC success!

How to Set Up A Winning Google AdWords Campaign for Law Firms