3 Reasons Why Lawyers Lose Money With Google AdWords

The 800 pound Gorilla of the Internet.


Depending on your previous experiences, their advertising platform (Google AdWords) is either the biggest waste of time and money OR one of the biggest drivers of growth in your law firm’s marketing plan.

How can this be? Those outcomes are completely opposite yet I find myself having the same conversation over and over again.

“Oh AdWords? Yea that doesn’t work for us. We tried it.”

Google AdWords brought in $24,750,000,000 of revenue in the first quarter of 2017. Yes, that is $24.75 BILLION dollars in revenue. That is $572,916.65 per second. Crazy.

With that in mind, it is either the most successful billion dollar per month scam in history OR it is an amazing way to bring in new leads.

So which is it?

AdWords is much like an airplane. It is always capable of flying, but whether you get there safely or crash into the side of a mountain depends entirely on how you fly it.

The 3 biggest reasons we see AdWords campaigns fall flat are:

  • Bad targeting and ad schedule
  • Ineffective Landing Pages (or sending people to the home page)
  • Negative Keywords

 (RELATED: [Download] Free Checklist: 6 Steps To Turn 28.1% Of Your Website Visitors Into Leads )

Bad Targeting and Ad Schedule

The strength of Google AdWords is the ability to target ads to what people are searching for on the Google search engine.

If you think about the frame of mind you are in when you conduct a search, it becomes apparent how this system works extremely well for advertisers.

Let’s use a non-legal example.

You finish up in the bathroom, flush and start to walk out… until you hear water spilling on to the floor. You run back over just in time to see water start to pour out of the pipes on the back of the toilet.

Uh oh. Quick, what is your first thought?

“I need a plumber here ASAP!”

You pull out your phone and go to Google, where you type in “plumbers in [insert your city]”. The results you see are similar to the results below:


Next thing you know, you have a plumber on your way to the house. And Google gets paid for helping connect you with someone who can solve the problem.

Now, this is great for plumbers but does this apply to attorneys?

Google provides a tool for marketers to look at the volume of search traffic for specific words (this can be accessed if you have an AdWords account. If you don’t have one, and would like to see the results of a different search term, feel free to send an email to support@digitaledgeadvertising.com and we will be glad to get it for you). Here are some examples:

“Family law attorney” – 18,100 searches per month


“Divorce attorney” – 27,100 searches per month


“Business attorney” – 4,400 searches per month


“Personal injury attorney” – 18,100 searches per month


 (RELATED: [Free Course] Get 20% More Leads From Your Current Advertising Budget – Without Spending Hours In Marketing Meetings )


Those numbers are just for those specific search terms. There are another 15,000+ searches for “divorce lawyer” instead of “divorce attorney”.

I think it is safe to say that potential clients are absolutely using Google to find the attorney they need.

Back to the original question… Why does AdWords work for some, but not for all?

Let’s talk about how the airplane is being flown.

The key to targeting and ad scheduling? Knowing when and where to show the ads.

If you show your ads for very broad terms (like “divorce”), the ad will not perform the way you want. Why?

The key is understanding Google’s priorities. They have two major priorities:

  1. Provide relevant results so people keep using Google.
  2. Increase the amount of revenue per search.

Google will show your ads for free. You only pay for them when someone clicks. This is a great deal for a well-managed AdWords campaign but there is a catch.

If people are not clicking on your ads, Google is not getting paid. They also start to assume that you are not a relevant ad. Once this happens, they start to charge you more per click. This ultimately increases the amount you pay for a lead.

The best way to combat this increase in cost is to write specific ads for specific keywords. By matching the exact search term (“divorce lawyer in Phoenix” vs “divorce lawyer in Scottsdale”) to a very specific ad (one ad says “Divorce Lawyer serving the Phoenix area” and the other says “Divorce lawyer serving Scottsdale”), you can increase the number of people clicking on your ad.

This makes Google happy and they reward you by making you pay less for each click. Which in turn reduces your cost per lead.

In addition, ads can be scheduled to only run when your office is open. In accounts I have personally analyzed, I have seen as many as 85% of leads that come in after hours wasted. Best practice? Only run ads when someone is available to respond as quickly as possible (this also increases the rate of leads that become consultations, further lowering your cost per consultation).

Action Plan:

If you are running your own campaign, go check your keywords and ads to make sure that they match.

If you have an agency running your campaign, ask how many different keywords, ads, and pages they have built for you. If that number is less than 200 for a rural area, or less than 500 in a major metro, you are not getting the results you could be getting.


Ineffective Landing Pages (or sending people to the home page)

Now we have set the targeting and the scheduling correctly, so that we have a better cost per click and we are getting qualified visitors to our website.

Where should we send them?

The fatal error (read: expensive error) in most campaigns happens after the click. The right people can find you on Google and click on your ad but if you send them to a page with the wrong elements (or missing elements), they leave your site and never come back.

Before discussing the needed elements on a landing page (a landing page is a term for where the person “lands” after they click) we need to understand why sending people to the home page is such a bad idea.

The homepage for your site contains distractions. Distractions are the mortal enemy of leads from your website. Potential clients need just enough information to determine that you are the one they should call and a clear “call to action” (this means you direct them to call now or to fill out a form).

I have counted as many as 258 different places to click on the homepage of a law firm’s website. Even if you don’t have that many, things like the menu on your site is enough to confuse the visitor.

It is not that potential clients aren’t smart enough to use your homepage. They are simply in a hurry, as we all are. Respect their time and send them to a page that is clear of clutter and distractions so that they can make the decision to get in touch with you.

Back to the proper landing page.

The landing page should contain 4 elements:

  1. Search Specific Text – Use the term they searched for on Google on your landing page.
  2. Effective copy – 90% of law firms just talk about themselves, here is why that is a bad idea. (blog post)
  3. Call to Action – There should be a clear “next step” for the potential client, usually in the form of a button (this button should also allow them to call you from a mobile device).
  4. Social Proof – There should be testimonials from past clients right next to the form. This increases the likelihood that the visitor will fill out the form.

These are so important, I dedicated an entire video of the Google AdWords for Attorneys training course to just these 4 elements.

What effect does this have on your leads?

For one of our clients, it has produced 158 leads in the past 90 days. 27.87% of people who visit that page become leads.

Action Plan:

If you are running your own campaigns, make sure you have the 4 elements are in place. These are game changers for campaign performance.

If you have an agency running your campaigns, write down these 4 elements and ask them to show you where they are on your campaigns.


Negative Keywords

The final element we see missing from campaigns is a robust list of negative keywords.

Negative keywords simply tell Google which words you do NOT want to buy.

Consider the following:

“personal injury attorney in Atlanta” – Great term!

“how to become a personal injury attorney in Atlanta” – Whoops, not so great.

The problem lies in how Google determines when to show your ad. If you are buying the term “personal injury attorney in Atlanta”, it is possible to accidently buy a click for “how to become a personal injury attorney in Atlanta”.

The remedy? A negative keyword.

By telling Google that you do not want your ad to show up if the word “become” is present in the search, you can block out irrelevant searches, which lowers the cost of your advertising and makes it much more effective.

There are many more words that end up “caught in the net” when advertising on Google AdWords. Ironically, the same thing that makes AdWords so powerful (the ability to target by what people are searching for) is the same thing that can crash an otherwise successful campaign.

It is a simple step but if it isn’t done correctly, you end up buying a lot of clicks that will never turn into retained clients. This makes your cost per lead, cost per consultation, and cost per retained client much more expensive than it needs to be.

Building a negative keyword list usually takes money and time, finding out which terms are bad and blocking them out. There should be at least 400+ negative words in every legal advertising campaign, and the list should grow over time.

If you want the shortcut, you can download a free list of the negative keywords we use with every campaign here.

 (RELATED: [Download] Free Swipe File: 433 Words Lawyer Must Block From Google AdWords )

Action Plan:

If you are running your own campaigns, make sure you have a large list (400+) negative keywords. Feel free to use the list at the link above.

If you have an agency running your campaigns, you can take the list at the link above to your next meeting to make sure they have them in place. Also ask them how many words on are currently on the list (if it is less than 300, this can explain a lack of results).


Are we profitable yet?

Fix the three issues discussed above, and you will be much closer than you ever have been before.

Hopefully this helps you understand why the experiences using AdWords can be so different for different attorneys.

The ones that have these elements in place (whether they do it themselves or hire someone) will experience increased leads, low lead costs, and a predictable, profitable advertising campaign.

The ones that ignore this advice?

Watch out for that mountain.


If you want to learn more about how this all works together, sign up for my free video training course, Google AdWords for Attorneys, where we show you how to get at least 20% more leads with your current advertising budget.

The course shows you how to effectively direct the strategy for Google AdWords campaigns, whether you are currently using it or would like to start.

You can find the course at the link below:

Click Here to learn how to get 20% more leads from your current advertising budget by effectively directing the strategy for your Google AdWords campaigns

Found this article helpful? Please share it or tag someone who could use the information. Help me save the poor advertising dollars from a slow painful death on AdWords (and get a better return on your advertising at the same time).


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