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The ultimate guide to paid search for law firms

We outline all the vital aspects involved in creating and managing effective PPC marketing campaigns that target relevant audiences and yield higher return on investment. 

Ultimate guide to PPC

What is paid search for law firms?

Paid search, also known as ‘Pay-per-click’ (PPC) is an inbound marketing channel that matches user search intent with relevant ads. 

This form of paid ‘advertising’ is a service offered by Google, Bing, and other search engines in which you pay your way to the top of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS). organic (SEO-driven) search results are then listed beneath these on the SERPs. 

If you want to push your online presence and give your firm a competitive edge in a crowded market, then paid advertising can be an extremely effective channel. 

Implementing well-structured PPC marketing campaigns can significantly enhance your law firm’s online visibility, leading to higher click-through rates and an increase in potential clients reaching out to your firm. 

Like everything online, it is a channel that is constantly evolving so its use needs to be strategically relevant with specific clear goals for your law firm. 

Five benefits of PPC campaigns

PPC has become an essential tool for law firms looking to boost their online presence and attract new clients. Some of the top benefits of using PPC for your law firm include relevance, flexibility, measurability, visibility, and targeted. 


PPC allows you to respond to a specific need and/or motivation that a consumer is trying to fulfil at a specific time. This level of relevance ensures that your firm can connect with potential clients who are most likely to be interested in your services. 


Campaigns can be adjusted quickly to allow ongoing refinement and tailoring based on changes in your firm, online environment, or competitor landscape. The flexibility of paid search allows you to add/remove keywords, adjust your bids, and even pause or stop your campaign when needed.  


You can easily track the effectiveness of your PPC campaign and adjust as necessary to maximise return on investment (ROI). These factors allow you to constantly improve your campaigns and the resources spent on them. 


Unlike organic results, your firm and services are always top of the page and visible to potential customers when using PPC. The visibility provided by PPC ensures your law firm gets its name in front of your targeted audience, helping to establish your brand and online reputation. 


Unlike traditional forms of advertising, PPC campaigns allow your firm to target users who are actively searching for legal services online.  

You can target your ads based on specific demographics, locations, and their overall interest/desire. This ensures your campaigns are focused on your ideal ICP, which is cost-effective and of more relevance, to gain the leads your firm requires.  

Planning your ad campaign

PPC requires time, regular maintenance, knowledge of keywords, and good on-site optimisation.

Many law firms with a lower marketing budget don’t tend to consider PPC as they assume that they won’t be able to compete online. But you can compete, and you can come out on top if you do it right.  

The key to running a successful ad account is to plan. It’s no good rushing into creating an ad account unless you have fully considered the following questions: 

  • What do I want to achieve with paid advertising? 

  • How will paid advertising fit into my overall marketing strategy? 

  • How much time/resource can I dedicate to paid advertising on a weekly/monthly basis? 

  • What services do I want to advertise? 

  • How much do I want to spend per month to attract more clients to my website? 

  • What is my maximum cost-per-acquisition (CPA) in order to stay profitable? 

  • What type of client do I want to attract? 

  • How competitive are searches for my services? 

  • How competitive are searches for legal services in my location(s)? 

There’s no single formula for a profitable paid advertising campaign. Your answers to the above will define what your approach to paid marketing will be. 

By taking the time to fully consider your budget and resource limits, understand exactly who you want to target with PPC, and define your end goals, you will already have made an excellent start to running a profitable PPC account. 

Think about your account structure

Ad accounts can range in size, but the best PPC accounts are structured to reflect the website they lead to.  

One of the key components of a well-structured campaign is ad groups, which are organised by themes or topics related to your law firm’s practice areas. By grouping keywords and ads together by topic, your firm can ensure your ads are highly targeted and relevant to users’ search queries.  

A helpful tip is that your ad campaigns should reflect your website’s menu options, and your ad groups should reflect your subpages. 

For example, if the campaign was family law, then the groups could then be as follows: 

  • Divorce 

  • Child residency and contact 

  • Guardianship orders 

  • Prenuptial agreements 

  • Adoption 

  • Cohabitation 

Structuring your campaign in this way lets you easily see the best performing areas of practice in terms of clicks, enquiries (‘conversions’), and cost per enquiry (‘cost per conversion’). 

Deciding your paid advertising budget

Budget is a crucial factor in account structure. If you have a relatively low daily or monthly budget, then spreading this over too many ad groups won’t get you far.  

The most popular terms such as ‘divorce lawyers’ and ‘how much can I claim?’ will eat up your budget very quickly and other service areas won’t get a chance to shine.  

Make sure to distribute your budget strategically so that you’re bidding competitively for your most profitable services. 

Carrying out keyword research

Assuming you’re advertising on the Google Search Network and not the Display Network, you will be bidding against competitors on search terms that potential clients are typing into Google. 

There are several tools available to help with keyword research: 
  • Google Keyword Planner 

  • Google Suggest 

  • Wordstream 

  • SEMRush 

  • SE Ranking  

  • Ubersuggest 

  • Moz 

How many keywords can I have in my ad group?

Each ad group can have up to 5,000 keywords to activate your ads, but make sure to start off by keeping it simple with around 15-30 keywords. This will be a lot easier to manage, and give you a sense of what search terms are gaining the most attention and which one’s aren’t working for you at all.  

You will accrue keywords over time through continual optimisation, further research, and by using Google’s handy Keyword Details tool which shows the real search terms that led to people clicking your ads. 

What are negative keywords?

Negative keywords are words you don’t want to trigger your ads – either at campaign level or ad group level.  

For instance, the keyword ‘divorce lawyer’ could show for the search term ‘traineeship to be a divorce lawyer.’ In such circumstances, you might want to add ‘traineeship’ as a negative keyword to prevent high CPC and a false enquiry.  

How to write ad copy

When first entering a website, it can take someone as little as 0.05 seconds to make up their mind about your services. With this in mind, think how little time you must impress people when your advertisement shows on a results page full of competitor ads and organic results, all of which are in the exact same format, size, and colours!

What can you do to stand out in a crowded space?

Make sure you know what you need to differentiate yourself. Carry out multiple searches on Google for keywords you hope will trigger your ads and see what your competitors have written.  Is there anything there that immediately catches your eye?  Is there anything that would put you off as a potential customer?  What do you offer that these law firms don’t? 

Writing ad copy within a small character limit is tricky, and writing ad copy for the legal sector can be even more challenging, especially if the service you’re offering is particularly sensitive. 

Perfecting your ad copy takes time, and by testing ads against one another, you will get a sense of what speaks to your customers the best.

Enhance your ads with extensions

Have you ever carried out a search and wondered why some ads had a lot more real estate than others? Google gives you the opportunity to enhance your paid advertisements with a variety of useful extensions, including: 

  • Location 

  • Sitelink 

  • Callouts 

  • App 

  • Review 

  • Calls 

 For the legal sector we find some of these extensions more essential than others: 

Location extensions


By enabling the location extension, your business address can appear beside your ad, potentially encouraging more clients who live nearby to contact you.  

An added benefit of showing your ads on mobile devices is that the location extension features a map with your physical location marked on it, along with directions from the user’s location to your business. 

When trying to stand out amongst competitors who are all fighting to attract more clients, highlighting how accessible your law firm is and that you have a physical location is a real advantage.  

Sitelink extensions

Your website might be full of great content which, of course, you want to promote to people seeking your services. The sitelink extension allows you to add several extra links to your ads to provide users with a variety of reasons to click on your ads.  

 You pay the same price per click for each of these clicks and you might end up leading someone to the right landing page that encourages them to convert. 


Callout extensions

The Google Ad limit of 95 characters sometimes just isn’t enough to get across what you want to say. The callout extension allows you to add an extra 25 character selling points to your ads. 

Do you offer free initial consultations, competitive fees, or are you open beyond regular office hours?   

Make sure to get these extra points across to potential clients through callout extensions. They might just be the thing that makes you stand out and win new business. 


Review, experiment, and optimise!  

Google likes to see regular activity on PPC accounts and if you give it the time and attention it deserves, you will see the rewards. 

Optimising ads for mobile

An increasing number of people are searching Google and, indeed, viewing law firm websites from their mobile phones. It’s therefore important your ads are optimised for mobile devices. 

One of the main ways to optimise your ads for mobile is to use ‘expanded text ads’. These provide more space for your ad text to appear. If, within your Google Ads campaign, you are using text ads, you should amend to expanded text ads instead and there is no cost for upgrading. 

In addition, you should include relevant ad extensions such as an address, phone number, or website links so that people can click or call straight from the ad on their mobile device. 

When writing ad text with mobile in mind, you should include attention-grabbing, compelling headlines and strong calls-to-action. 

Lastly, it’s important to check the landing page of your site that people will click through to on mobile to ensure it provides a good user experience (UX). It should also contain prominent calls to action. 

Making bid adjustments

Bid adjustments involve a percentage change (increase or decrease) in your bid amounts in respect of your ads.

These allow your ads to be displayed more or less frequently based on how people search, for instance based on location or time of day of searching, or based on how your ads perform. 

While your spend for clicks can then vary depending on the bid adjustments you make, the overall daily budget will remain at what you have set. 

It’s best practice to review your bid adjustments regularly, particularly in respect of which ads are performing best or worst, so that you can maximise the return from your spend. 

Targeting new locations

You can expand the reach of your ads to other towns and cities easily, as if in the physical world you are opening a new office. With location targeting, you can select geographic locations or the ‘radius’ of where you’d like your ads to show. 

This can help you find the right, local clients for your firm. 

It’s worth noting that while Google tries to serve ads based on location settings, there’s a chance that some people’s locations can’t be known or may appear as separate locations to that intended, so it’s never completely 100% accurate.  

In practical terms, if you then check where your enquiries are coming from as a result of your location targeting in Google Ads, you’ll have a good picture as to whether it’s working as intended. 

Starting a remarketing 'Display' campaign

If you think your Google Ads campaign has reached its limit in terms of effectiveness targeting keywords, you can also expand to show ads to people who have visited your firm’s website. 

Such ads display on other sites and platforms around the web through Google’s Display Network, which is a collection of over two million websites online. You may have seen these before while browsing the web – they are the small boxes or banners on websites that appear and which have been relevant and related based on your previous search history.  

 Within the settings, you can tailor who your ads reach based on audience demographics and can segment appropriately. 


(Google remarketing)

Bing paid advertising

In 2023, Bing’s share of the search engine market in the UK is 3.97% which is significantly smaller than that of Google at 93.45%. For this reason, most law firms tend to exclude Bing from their marketing focus.

But there is still an opportunity to gain additional enquiries ahead of your competitors for several reasons.


Interestingly, the average cost-per-click on Bing can be 60% lower than Google ads, making it a cost-effective way to differentiate your firm against your competitors, due to lower competition on Bing.


If you already have a solid Google Ads campaign, one of the best ways to set up Bing Ads is to import from Google Ads. Once you sign up for Bing Ads, they have an easily accessible option which allows you to do so.


N.B: You’ll need a Microsoft account to set up Bing ads, this is extremely easy and quick to do. 

(Bing ads interface 2023)

Regular maintenance of your paid advertising campaigns 

Finally, make sure you review your PPC campaigns regularly. Find out relevant keywords that are working best for you in terms of phone calls and form fill enquiries, which ones aren’t working at all, and which ones are too expensive and use up all your budget.  

Discover what people are searching for and add these as extra keywords. Use these to improve your website content and quality score. Pause underperforming ads. Test new ads against one another. The list goes on and on. There is no end to the improvements you can make and the results you can achieve. 

Paid advertising can be difficult to understand, especially if you want to utilise Google and Bing. That’s where we come in. We have the skills and knowledge to help you develop, test, and implement an effective paid advertising campaign, designed to deliver higher return on investment (ROI).

Tips for PPC advertising in 2024

Use machine learning

This allows you to analyse the large amount of data of your PPC campaign, and provide insights into what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to adapt where necessary. Machine learning tools such as automated bidding and ad creation will improve the performance of your paid ad campaigns.   

Targeting the correct audiences

Targeting the correct audiences is critical as part of your PPC campaigns. This allows you to reach users which fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) which makes campaigns more relevant and effective.  

Personalise your ads

Using personalised ads will add to the performance of your campaigns. The use of dynamic ads and personalised landing pages will provide a customised experience for each user.  

Monitor your metrics

Regularly check your campaign metrics to optimise and improve your ROI. Important metrics to review: click-through rate (CTA), cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per acquisition (CPA).  

Focus on Quality Score

This is critical in determining the performance of your PPC campaigns. Your landing pages should be relevant and engaging to improve your Quality Score (QS) and lower your CPC.   

Experiment with new ad formats

You should experiment with different ad formats to get a better understanding of what resonates with your ICP, be that; video ads, image ads or interactive ads. This can ensure you differentiate your law firm against your competitors.  


Targeting the wrong keywords: this is essential as part of your overall PPC strategy and is one of the biggest mistakes made. The keywords MUST be relevant to your ICP, law firm and have high search volume, to spend your PPC budget in an appropriate way. Using the wrong keywords will result in clicks which don’t convert, and waste budget.  

Poor ad copy: Poorly written ad copy may result in a low click-through rate and significantly less enquiries, which affects the overall performance of your law firm’s PPC campaign. Your ad copy must be compelling, persuasive, engaging and relevant to the user’s search query. Keep your ICP in mind when writing your ad copy.  

Not optimising landing pages: Landing pages are essential as part of your PPC campaign. The relevant landing pages used should be optimised for users to convert. If your landing pages are confusing, slow to load, providing inadequate information not relevant to users, then they are likely to leave with converting,  

Not tracking and analysing PPC data: Failure to track and analyse your law firm’s PPC campaigns can affect your ability to track performance and improve based on data. You should track your ad budget, click-through-rates (CTR), conversion rates and cost per acquisition (CPA).  

Not testing or experimenting: Law firms which fail to test or experiment with their PPC campaigns, miss opportunities to improve overall results. Use A/B testing for your ad copy, landing pages and test targeting to help identify what works best for your law firm.  

The cost of PPC advertising varies depending on several factors, including the competition for the keywords you’re bidding on, the quality score of your ads, and the platform you’re using.

You can set a daily budget for your campaign, which limits your spending. Budget can vary depending on the size of your law firm, your law firm goals and objectives and your marketing strategy.

Evaluating these factors means you will be able to work out a budget that works best for your law firm.   

You can measure the success of your PPC campaign by tracking metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost-per-click (CPC), and return on investment (ROI).

These metrics help you understand how well your campaign is performing and where you can make improvements. These metrics can be viewed in your Google Analytics account.

You can optimise your PPC campaign by: refining your keyword list, improving your copy, targeting specific audiences, adjusting your bidding strategy, overall ppc ad spend and regularly analysing your ads.

Regular analysis and optimisation of your paid strategy can ensure your law firm has a successful PPC campaign.


Boost your ad performance now

If you’re considering enhancing your current law firm PPC strategy, or if you’d like to discuss with our team how we can amplify your law firm’s digital advertising success, get in touch by calling 0333 344 2722 to arrange your complimentary consultation.

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