How hard can it be? We hear this often from attorneys who, in an effort to save money, attempt to manage their own pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. The result is often an ineffective and expensive campaign which can be a major drain on one’s time and marketing budget.
1. Search Engine Marketing
Pay-per-click is a form of search engine marketing (SEM). Unlike SEO that seeks to increase the visibility of a site by elevating it’s placement in the organic search results, PPC is a paid ad campaign. Ads, based on geographic location and keywords, are purchased through one of the major search engines and they generally appear on the top or side of the search engine result pages in a designated “sponsored results” section.
2. Setting Up a Campaign
Anyone can set up a Google Adwords or Bing Ads account for free. Once your account has been created, you can begin running ads. To get a campaign underway, you will need to identify appropriate keywords, understand your geographic target and how to reach it, and set your budget and cost per click. While there are a ton of websites, YouTube videos and tools that can give you a basic understanding of PPC management, there are so many nuances and “tricks” that can help to reduce cost and increase effectiveness that most attorneys are not familiar with that can lead to poorly designed campaigns. Consider the following:
3. Quality Score
A quality score measures the relevance of the ads and landing pages that are triggered by a set keyword. The score ranges from 1-10 and based on how high your number is, Google will actually discount (or hike) the cost per click (CPC). If you have a high quality score it means that Google believes the user will find relevant information once they click on the ad (given the proximity of subject matter to the search term) so your CPC will be lowered. Creating a higher quality score can prove to be challenging. SEM consultants, with experience in the legal industry, can work with you to create high-quality content and very niche ads to ensure you get more relevant traffic to your site and lower CPCs, giving you more bang for your SEM buck.
4. Keyword Matching
When setting up a campaign, you have the option to set how your keywords will be matched to the user’s search phrase. If you don’t select the right option, you are more likely to waste money on leads that weren’t necessarily looking for your services.
5. Getting Mixed Up in the Display Network
By default all Adword campaigns are a part of the Google Display Network GDN). This network consists of over a million websites, apps and videos where your ad can be displayed. While it may seem like a great advertising opportunity, it really isn’t well-suited for legal professionals. You don’t get control over where you ads will appear and these placements generally don’t result in much high-quality traffic for attorneys. You can opt out of GDN but you have to know exactly how to do it.
6. Ad Groups
Ad groups allow you place one or more ads that target a shared set of keywords into a single group. The groups can help you to better organize your ads and help you increase the relevancy of your ads to targeted keywords and get them in front of prospective clients who really need your assistance. If you’re new to PPC, ad groups can be rather confusing and it will likely take some practice before you’re grouping, and bidding, appropriately.
7. Setting up Conversion Tracking
You don’t just want people to see your ad, you want them to go to your site and ideally make contact with your firm. Conversion tracking allows you have a better idea of how your ads are converting into leads. Only with this information can you fine-tune your campaign and increase your ROI.
8. Doing comparisons between ads and keyword choices
Do you have a good idea of what constitutes an effective ad? What numbers are normal? What statistics are red flags?As with all advertising, it’s important that you constantly assess your campaign; this allows you to understand which ads you should discontinue because they just aren’t effective and which are working, and should be more actively promoted.
The cost of an SEO consultant can vary but it is usually a percentage of your monthly budget. While this fee may be avoided by doing it on your own, you’ll likely pay significantly more money and devote precious time (that could be used on billable work) without professional assistance. In hiring an outside consultant, be sure that the individual is well-versed in the legal industry. As you might imagine, running a PPC campaign for a shoe store versus a law practice is quite different. An individual specializing in legal marketing will have the necessary knowledge of keywords, legal content and an understanding of how your prospective clients are searching for your services to make your campaign effective.