Running Effective PPC Campaigns In The Legal Industry

By Matt Umbro | @Matt_Umbro | Senior Account Manager, Community

It’s the start of another series week here at PPC Hero! This week we’ll be looking at PPC management across different industries. See how strategy and management need to be adjusted depending on the vertical. Matt starts us off this week with a look at PPC management in the legal space.


PPC advertising for attorneys and lawyers can be a challenging endeavor, but is always a great learning experience. Generally, law based cost-per-clicks tend to be extremely high, even for keywords with four plus terms. Additionally, ad copy needs to be written with care since most law related topics are of a sensitive nature.


First off, when I talk about the legal space I’m speaking to practices like the ones below.


  • Bankruptcy
  • Divorce
  • General Litigation
  • Personal Injury


As with any other industry, we need to consider search intent before crafting our campaigns. Based upon the themes, searchers looking for these services are most likely in desperate or troubling situations. As PPC Specialists, we need to understand the rationale and process of the searcher.


Let’s say a user searches for “bankruptcy attorney in Boston.” Here are the first five paid results with the messaging highlighted that I deem to resonate the most.


Image of bankruptcy listings
The Google paid search results for “bankruptcy attorney in Boston”


Two of the ads reference a free consultation. As someone having financial problems this value add is enticing. Other messaging is focused around affordable payment plans and one firm even offers an option for $0 down. I don’t necessarily need the firm with the best reputation, but one that I can afford.


As I click through these ads, none of the three landing pages are great. All three contain short forms with two of the sites showing the form above the fold. The pages are text heavy with few images. Only two of the landing pages contain the same call to action that was used in the ads. I want to see that the offer I clicked is available when submitting my contact information. Again, I’m most likely in a tough situation and am looking for the best solution.


Now that we’ve looked inside the mind of the searcher, let’s talk about tips for how advertisers can best create PPC campaigns.


Utilize Geotargeting When Setting Up Campaigns


Most law offices will likely only serve certain areas. Furthermore, these areas may not always be more than 25 – 50 miles from the physical office location. From the beginning, it’s important to gather the names and zip codes of all cities that the client services. From here, you can craft your campaigns.


I tend to create two campaigns per theme. Each campaign targets the same area, but one is going after location-based keywords while the other more general themes. The geotargeting can be setup by radius around a specific location, city/zip code targeting, or a combination of both. For example, the “Boston bankruptcy attorney” theme would consist of these two campaigns.


Boston Bankruptcy Attorney – Cities
Boston Bankruptcy Attorney – General


The cities campaign would consist of ad groups around each specific city we are targeting. Ad groups may be setup around these cities.




Keywords in each ad group would be city specific, such as:


Cambridge bankruptcy attorney
Bankruptcy attorneys in Everett
Best bankruptcy attorney Chelsea


And each ad would include the city name.


Image of Chelsea bankruptcy lawyer ad


The general campaign would target non-location based terms.


Best bankruptcy attorneys
Local bankruptcy attorney
Where to find a bankruptcy attorney


The ad copy would still reference the Boston area while speaking to a broader audience.


Image of Boston bankruptcy lawyer


Ideally, each landing page would then be unique to the location. If the user searches for “Chelsea bankruptcy attorney” then the headline and content would contain the city name and practice.


Finally, we would add all location-based terms as negative keywords in the general campaign in order to avoid showing the wrong ad. For example, someone searching for “Chelsea bankruptcy attorney” will see an ad tailored to this city rather than the general Boston based ad.


Make It Easy To Call


In my experience, searchers are just as likely to call the law firm as they are to fill out a form. Make it easy for users to call both through the ads and on site. Call extensions should be used in each campaign, even if you don’t have a mobile website. On site, make sure the user can’t miss the phone number.


Image of landing page phone number


Retarget With Care


With most accounts, defining and executing a well run retargeting strategy is a given. With legal services, retargeting delves into moral grounds since it deals with sensitive topics. In fact, Google may decide for you if they deem a topic to be too sensitive, such as adult activities or crime.


An example would be the user looking for a bankruptcy attorney. Suppose this user and spouse share the same computer. This user may search for bankruptcy attorneys and then see retargeting ads. In turn, when the spouse uses the computer these bankruptcy ads may show, potentially coming as a surprise. This simple act of retargeting could elicit unintended actions. To be fair, this scenario is probably worst case, but it’s important that your clients know the implications of retargeting.




Running effective PPC campaigns in the legal space takes much time and effort. The account structure must be solid and fluid throughout the search process. Granted these notions can be said about any account, but they are especially true in the legal space due to search intent, competitiveness, and sensitivity. Hopefully the tips provided will help as you run your accounts for legal clients.