Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is just one type of paid search, a category of digital advertising in widespread use today. Paid search continues to grow across all types of platforms, just as people are increasing reliance on their devices for search for the information they seek. Today’s attorney relies upon highly proactive practice development efforts to build business in what was once a word-of-mouth referral industry.
For legal practice growth, you must know the ins and outs of PPC advertising. Equally important is understanding the costs associated with PPC campaigns. You also need to develop a knowledge base of how leads generated through PPC advertising fit into your practice development and sales funnel.
Costs of PPC Advertising for Lawyers
PPC campaigns are priced according to how much is charged each time a person clicks on the listed pay-per-click ad. Even though each click costs a certain amount, a PPC advertising campaign is managed according to a daily and monthly limit. An example of these limits may be placing a $50 per day limit on your campaign budget. This equates to $1500 per month.
One of the biggest questions practices new to PPC have is how to determine their daily spend for PPC advertising. To determine your own budget, there are a number variables to consider. Each of these variables will determine your campaign’s overall costs and number of leads you receive.
Keyword Bids and Competition for Legal Practice PPC Campaigns
PPC advertising for legal practices breaks down to cost per click, like any other PPC campaign. The cost per click is determined through a bidding process. As the advertiser, you place a bid on a keyword of your choosing or a string of keywords appropriate for the area of business you would like to develop. A good example of keywords for a personal injury practice may include:
- Auto accident lawsuit
- Motorcycle accident injury lawsuit
- Product liability lawsuit
- Personal injury lawsuit
- Other keywords according to your needs or research
You can place a bid of any amount for your PPC campaign keywords. But the results of your campaign, including how frequently your ad will appear in search results, is reliant on the quality of your bid. For the highest frequency in search engine results page (SERP) placement, you will need to be competitive.
Each search engine like Google has a particular number of PPC advertising spots in specific locations on their SERPs. For Google, there are seven of these advertising spots on a search results page. Four of these are at the top of the page and three are along the bottom. How much you bid to pay per click and your daily budget will determine your position in these seven places and how frequently your ad appears.
Each industry has its own competitive pricing levels for PPC advertising campaigns according to the bar set by the highest bidders. Legal advertising is the highest priced by keyword and across the board. Even more expensive is the focus of keywords for some specialized fields like personal injury. The most used search terms are the highest in cost per click bidding.
Examples of Google AdWords PPC bids for keywords relevant to personal injury include:
- Car accident lawsuit: $143.94 per click
- Personal injury lawsuit: $102.70 per click
- Lawsuit: $8.35 per click
You can see from the above examples that more targeted leads cost more. For the highest quality lead generation, you must bid higher and expect to pay more for your campaign.
Role of Geographic Location in PPC Bids and Campaigns
The examples above indicate how competitive bid pricing for practice-relevant keyword search terms can be, just as they show the variation in costs associated with costs per click for this industry. For law firms located only in one city or region, using broad search terms in a national campaign is not effective use of funds. Competition is high at the national level and costs are too high for a single-location practice to effectively compete in this arena.
To more effectively manage PPC campaign costs and lead quality, campaign focus should be on local PPC advertising campaigns. This is critical for generation of client leads in the area where the law practice operates. For these local campaigns, there is significant variation in competitive keyword term cost. For example, the search term “car accident lawsuit” costs $143.94 nationally. But for “car accident lawsuit chicago” the keyword string costs $121.42 per click. In Sacramento the competition is higher, driving the Google AdWords cost to $262.26 per click for the local variation of “car accident lawsuit sacramento.”
Variations of Keywords and Associated Costs
When a web surfer uses particular keywords in their search, PPC advertisements are displayed as part of the search results. The more precise those keywords used for search are, the more targeted the results will be, too. Likewise, the fewer number of searches that will occur each month for those targeted search terms.
As an example, a practice in Los Angeles using the keyword string of “car accident legal help los angeles” will only have exposure to about 480 searches per month through that targeted PPC. These exposures are called impressions. Impressions may also be gained through variations of keywords based upon search behavior. This increases the bidding firm’s chances of appearing through PPC in relevant searches.
Of course, not everyone conducting a search uses the same language in their keywords. Good examples of this are variations of the search for “car accident legal help los angeles.” When different terminology is used for the same basic keyword string, pricing can vary significantly among those terms. Simply substituting the word “lawsuit” for “legal help” can change the price of a keyword string. For example:
- Los angeles car accident legal help: $105.81 per click
- Los angeles car accident lawsuit: $332.58
Determining Your PPC Bids, Cost-Per-Click Maximum and What You Will Actually Pay
There are multiple PPC advertising platforms on which you can develop campaigns. Each of these has their own suggested bid amounts, according to the competition on that search engine. Bidding on these platforms is basically based upon two factors, the daily limit and maximum cost per click.
Suggested bids on each engine provide a cost per click maximum you should expect to pay for competitive PPC ad placement. That competitive placement bid is drawn from what it will cost for you to appear on the first page of search engine results.
When developing your PPC campaign for a search engine like Google, remember this hints:
- Your daily limit is your absolute maximum for daily spending on that search engine’s PPC advertising placement.
- To determine your monthly maximum spend on PPC ads, simply multiply your daily maximum by 30.
- Maximum CPC is the most you are willing to pay for one click on your PPC ad.
Also remember that PPC bidding is like any other auction. The pricing fluctuates constantly. So the maximum CPC you provide for your campaign spend will often not be the amount you pay per click. You will more often pay less. To ensure that your ads appear frequently enough on SERPs, you should place a maximum CPC bid around the amount suggested by the bidding platform.
Cost Per Click Examples of PPC Advertising
If your budget for PPC advertising is $3000 per month, your daily limit for those 30 days is $100. The exact keyword string you want to bid on is “los angeles car accident legal help.” For this search you want to be competitive in order to gain top visibility among others vying for the same business. So you should place your bid at your daily maximum of $100 CPC.
After you have finalized your bid and made it an active listing, people who search for that keyword string will start seeing your ad results in the top spots on the first page of Google. Each appearance of your ad after a user’s search is counted as an impression. After multiple impressions, someone will click on your PPC ad. That click-through, as it is known, will send the user to your website’s landing page.
Google subsequently bills your advertising campaign account that click-through’s actual cost per click. Google will add one cent to your closet competitor’s bid to determine how much the click-through cost. There are other factors that can make the costing of each click-through more complex, such as factoring of Ad Rank. But the basic concept is this one cent addition to your competitor’s bid.
If your closes competitor had a bid of $75, your click-through cost is likely $75.01. So your remaining daily limit on $100 per day will not permit a first-page SERP placement. But Google will continue your ad on other pages of search results, those less likely to be seen or clicked through. There are multiple factors involved in when and where Google places or ad after your daily budget has been mostly used. If the daily limit is completely exhausted, your ad will discontinue until the following day.
Client Lead Generation through PPC Advertising
Most people starting their lead generation advertising through PPC have many questions about what to expect of their ad performance and cost. Some of those questions are answered in the sections below:
From PPC Ad Placement to a New Legal Client
With the proper keywords, PPC advertising places the name and details about your law practice in front of users searching for information about your area of law. A click-through on the ad should take the user to a website landing page you have designed to answer their initial questions and entice them into making a call to your office.
Your website landing page could be your actual homepage, if that meets the needs of people clicking through after search. Or you can use a page written specifically to address frequently asked questions relevant to the keyword search terms. It is important to remember that you are paying for those website visitors, so you need to meet their needs as much as you can while leading them to contact you for more help.
You can determine your click-through rate by dividing the number of click-throughs you have paid for by the number of impressions of the ad. These vary according to industry. But your goal should be to achieve a one percent click-through rate or higher. This means that one in every 100 people seeing your PPC ad will actually click on it.
Your cost for generating a client from your PPC campaign is also something you should measure. If you have a one percent click-through rate, you then need to find out how many of those click-throughs resulted in actual client business. If ten percent of your landing page visitors convert to contacting you, the next step is to determine how many of those become new clients. A good expectation may be to convert 20 percent of those new inquiring leads into paying clients.
To fit the above scenario, you could determine the following for 5000 PPC ad impressions:
- One percent click-through for 50 click-throughs
- 50 click-through website visitors, with 10 percent making contact with your office
- 10 percent contacts equals five new client leads, with 20 percent becoming a new client
For this scenario, you can glean:
- 5000 ad impressions and 50 click-throughs equals one new client
- Acquisition of one new client is equal to the cost paid for 50 click-throughs
Understanding Your PPC Lead Generation Costs
There are many factors impacting how your PPC advertising campaign performs and how much lead generation will cost. These factors include:
- PPC ad quality
- PPC ad SERP placement
- PPC and SERP performance
- Website design quality
- Website organization and readability
- PPC ad response landing point or page quality
- Response quality for incoming contacts from the click-throughs
With the right research and planning, you can perform well with your PPC leads and keep visibility high and costs to a minimum. But if any of the above segments of this lead generation chain are broken, you could be throwing money away despite ad quality or click-through performance. One of the worst scenarios is that of losing incoming website visitors after they have clicked through your PPC ad, or simply not following up on these contacts after they have progressed through the funnel.
Options to Managing Your Own PPC for Lead Generation
Pay-per-click is an important part of digital advertising today. Through this type of advertising you can successfully generate leads for your client base. But there are options to managing your own PPC. One of your best decisions may be to gain the help of a specialized agency to conduct due diligence for evaluation of cost involvement for your practice. This type of agency will manage your PPC for you, providing you with consistent updates regarding cost per lead and the functioning of your PPC campaigns.
To ensure your PPC campaign dollars help you meet your client acquisition goals, you need experienced consultation you can trust. Thomas Wallin provides truth in marketing for legal practices of varied specialization, helping those practices achieve the firm growth they need to reach full potential. For your PPC advertising and other practice development needs, contact Trusted Word. Together, Thomas Wallin and Trusted Word are the trusted source for lawyer and law firm marketing.