An in depth Q & A session with Network Affiliates’ in-house PPC Expert, Buzz Banda
Remember Yellow Pages? Bet you do. It used to be the bible for print advertising for lawyers. It was all rather simple back then. Reserve your ad, maybe even maximize a cover or feature spot; hone your listing; and wait for the phone to ring. People were used to looking for services in the phone book—and that’s where your law firm was found. Nice and neat.
Fast forward a decade-plus, and what used to be a go-to resource for attorney advertising is nearly obsolete. So where are people going to find lawyers when they’re in serious and immediate need of representation or want to research their legal options for the future? The answer will come as no surprise: online—where more and more people are going to get answers, get informed and get business done.
What this means is lawyers are required to leverage online marketing strategies or risk losing out on a massive amount of leads. However, digital marketing has become a sophisticated science during the decade that the Yellow Pages died. And that means you will undoubtedly need some help navigating the digital landscape. A PPC advertising expert can teach your law firm how best to make an impact with pay-per-click advertising (PPC), or paid search, which leverages user “clicks” on keywords to garner leads online.
While dedicated PPC campaigns have proven to work very well for attorneys, there are some landmines that you should be aware of if you want to stay alive—and competitive—when marketing online against other law firms. To address these challenges—and solutions—we put Network Affiliates’ resident PPC expert, Buzz Banda through a Q&A session. Check out his helpful insight below.
Q: What are the benefits of PPC for lawyers?
A: While digital marketing is a competitive play for lawyers, the benefits far outweigh the marketing method’s shortcomings. The flexibility and speed of paid search is simply unmatched in traditional advertising. One major benefit of PPC for law firms is sheer speed to market. In many cases lawyers can have a campaign up and running within a couple of days. It’s also possible to see first-page ranking for a majority of your keywords within days after launching a campaign.
There’s also great flexibility in that you can pause an existing PPC campaign while starting a new campaign with the click of a mouse. This is a huge benefit over long-term strategies like simple SEO, or trying to rank for keywords. It may take months to obtain first-page ranking on a search-engine results page with this tactic alone. Incorporating a paid-search strategy also allows you to track which keywords are being used by your potential clients, which is very helpful for refining your future SEO strategy.
Q: Why are PPC keywords for lawyers so expensive?
A: Keywords and keyword phrases for law firms are some of the most expensive keywords to purchase because a large number of attorneys are competing for a small number of highly valued search terms, such as “car accident attorney.” Because of the high cost of keywords, it’s very important to be able to determine which keywords and phrases produce conversions versus the ones that do not.
Conversion tactics need to be engineered with a reverse strategy. Begin with the landing page. Is your landing page built to optimize conversions? Think about mobile-first strategy, online forms and call to actions. Then develop your keyword strategy to align with the content on the landing page. Last, if you are optimizing for phone calls, make sure you know which keywords are producing the calls.
This reverse technique allows you to focus your bidding strategies on keywords that are performing. Obtaining high-quality scores for PI attorneys, for example, can be challenging, although this needs to be a main area of focus. Falling short in any of these areas may result in a very expensive endeavor with very little to show in terms of new cases.
Q: What does the removal of right-hand ad placement mean for PPC users?
A: After nearly two years of focus-group testing, Google recently eliminated all ads on the right-hand rail of search-result pages. These right-hand ads consistently showed a lower conversion percentage when compared those at the top of the page. This decision was also supported by consumer feedback: Users noted that content was much easier to read and understand without intrusion by right-hand ads. Along with this change came the addition of a fourth ad at the top of the page.
The visual adjustment also backed Google’s new mobile-first strategy. When doing a search on a mobile device there are now three ads instead of two at the top of the screen, however Google is considering adding a fourth to further support and improve the position of paid advertisers. With newly limited space for paid ads, many worry this will increase costs. Google thinks not. The number of people doing searches isn’t decreasing, so the question is do you want to be one of the four ads competing for their business?
Q: But how do PPC ad campaigns make the phone ring?
A: About two years ago Google stopped allowing phone numbers in ads, but you can still add a phone number if it’s set up with a call “extension.” This type of ad also requires a strong call to action. Make sure you use a different number for your call extension than you are using for your landing page. A unique number—or track line—will help you trace the lead back to your PPC campaign. Whenever you get a call from your call extension, you know someone called you before they clicked on your ad. This means you were not “charged” because there wasn’t a click. We see a remarkable 50% of the calls to our legal clients coming from the call-extension tactic.
Q: How can I get a PPC campaign customized to my keywords?
A: Using the correct keywords in your campaign is critical. If you haven’t already identified these keywords, using Google’s Keyword Planner tool can offer many suggestions on the appropriate keywords for your customized PPC campaign. One other strategy for developing a good set of keywords is simply surveying people in your law office. Create a scenario for them: Ask colleagues to imagine that someone they know has just been hurt in an auto accident and needs to find a law firm fast. What would the person type into a search box to find that law firm? Using real people to develop real search phrases will give you an additional list of keywords, many of which we find produce great results.
Q: What’s different about PPC ads viewed on a mobile device?
A: For the first time in 2015, the number of searches on a mobile device exceeded desktop searches. After the first 30 days of your PPC campaign and each month going forward, it is important to know where your searches are coming from—mobile or desktop? You can find this information in Google AdWords. If the majority of search is coming from mobile, you need to optimize your mobile bids and make sure you have created mobile-friendly ads. Mobile ads, especially, need to give people a reason to call. Your mobile bid optimization should be keeping your law firm within the top three positions—or at minimum an average of two.
Need more information about pay-per-click advertising? Call Buzz Banda at (303) 597-9625. Network Affiliates is happy to review your current PPC program for free to see where you stand. You can also contact us here or give us a call at 800-461-1016.