Google Adwords for attorneys? Read this first.


An attorney who reads this blog asked me what I thought about attorneys using Google Adwords to get clients for a law practice.

I’ve done a lot of advertising over the years, including Adwords, both as an attorney and in my attorney marketing business, and overall, I’ve had positive results. But I don’t recommend Google Adwords for most lawyers, at least not until they have many other ducks in a row.

Here’s what I mean.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, advertising of any kind can be a huge financial sinkhole. There are lots of things you have to get right and if you don’t, you’ll get poor results or spend way too much money for the results you do get. True, with Adwords you can get started with a small investment (e.g., $50 or $100) and you aren’t locked into a long term contract. But it’s far too easy to get caught up in the game of trying to make make your ads work, and that can be a very expensive game to play, especially for attorneys who might pay up to $50 per click.

If you don’t have the budget and the stomach to play that game, you should probably stay on the sidelines, at least for now.

In other words, don’t start with Adwords (or any advertising), to get traffic to your law firm’s web site. Start by building organic traffic by posting high quality content. Use referral marketing, social media, speaking, writing, networking, and other means to build your practice, before you even think about advertising. Once you have a sold base of clients and lots of disposable income to invest in further expansion, then you can consider advertising to provide an incremental increase in that income.

You might use Adwords short term, to test headlines and offers, however. Invest a couple hundred dollars to test several different report titles, for example, and see which one gets the highest response. When you know which one pulled best, you’ll know which one to use for your report.

Advertising is only part of the challenge. You may have great ads that pull lots of traffic, but is it targeted traffic, appropriate for your practice? Are they looking for a lawyer or just free information? At $50 a click, you need to make sure.

In addition, you must have effective landing pages. You may be getting lots of the right traffic but if they don’t opt-in or call you when they get to your site, it is all for naught.

You also need to be able to handle those leads and convert them into appointments. Someone needs to be available when they call and that could be long after business hours. And whoever takes the calls must be good at closing the appointment. The goal isn’t traffic and clicks, it’s appointments and clients.

If you do want to try Google Adwords (or Facebook ads or any other kind of Pay-Per-Click or Pay-Per-Action advertising), here’s what I recommend:

  • Make sure Adwords is right for a practice like yours. Do your ideal clients use search engines to find lawyers? Do they click on paid ads? Do you have high enough margins to justify the per client acquisition cost of advertising and associated overhead?
  • Learn all you can about Adwords. Start with the Google Adwords help center. Read books and blogs and take courses.
  • Start small. Open an account with no more a few hundred dollars and be prepared to lose it all. Take a break and evaluate your results.
  • Start with bids on low volume key words: “brain trauma law south bay” should cost a fraction of what you’ll pay for “Los Angeles personal injury attorney”.
  • Be prepared to roll out your winners and pull the plug on your losers. You must spend enough on your ads, however, to get enough clicks so you can quantify the difference.
  • Be prepared for constant monitoring, testing, and tweaking. You will need to know which headline, displayed in response to which key words, and sent to which landing page, is producing traffic that opts-in or calls. Then, you have to compare those results to other combinations, so you can maximize results and minimize costs.
  • Don’t expect that what works today will work tomorrow. Or vice versa. Advertising is never “set it and forget it”. You can never stop testing and making changes.
  • Get help. Hire consultants to design and track your campaign, and write your ads and landing pages. Let them do what they do best so you can do what you do best.

I’ve spent millions of dollars in advertising over the years and I love what it can do. If you get the pieces right, there is no faster way to bring traffic to a web site (aside from having something go viral, and that’s something you can’t control.) And yet. . . I’m not doing any advertising right now. I don’t want to work that hard.

What are your experiences with Google Adwords? Please share in the comments.

If you want to get more clients without advertising, you need The Attorney Marketing Formula.