The 2022 Cost for Law Firms to Advertise on Google
12–15 minutes to read
Updated by Alyssa Esker, VP of Marketing
Every year some trendy new article comes out proclaiming something like “SEO is dead” or “brand awareness doesn’t matter” — something shocking to get you ready to spend all your money on the latest marketing craze.
Take paid search, for example. Some of the trendiest buzzwords in modern legal marketing revolve around advertising on Google. Think: PPC, SEO, SEM, SERP, Performance Max, and countless others. Where do you even begin? And at what cost? And why at the expense of other marketing opportunities?
If you’re ready to catch up on these terms and learn about what “everyone” is talking about in digital marketing and how things have changed this year, buckle up. It’s probably not what you expect.
- How Google Advertising Works
- The REAL Cost of Advertising on Google
- What is Performance Max Anyway?
- A Tactical Legal Marketing Approach
- Becoming the Best Known Attorney in Your Market
How Google Advertising Works
When beginning your law firm’s journey to advertise on Google, you’ll start with Google Ads. The basic function behind this service is pay per click (or PPC) advertising. This means that you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on that ad.
Surprisingly enough, this model of paying only when clicked is not exclusive to just Google Ads. This has long been an option for advertising on other platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Overall costs per click on LinkedIn, however, can be $3-$6, while Facebook can be $1.70 — with more complex targeting than a channel like Google Ads.
This can make Google Ads a budget-friendly option; however, when it comes to the cost per click (CPC) by industry, that’s when things get pricey — particularly in the legal field.
To understand why PPC costs are what they are, we must first understand how Google Ads works. The process to advertise on Google consists of several steps, and it might not be as straightforward as you think.
Keywords for Google Ads
To begin your Google Ads campaign, you will need to select keywords that are relevant to your law firm. A keyword or keyphrase is a word or set of words that someone types into Google to find what they’re looking for.
For example, if you just bought a new house and are looking for movers, you might search “moving companies near me” to scour your options on Google. For a local moving company, that kind of sentence would be an ideal keyphrase to use for their Google Ads.
Similarly, if you own a personal injury practice, you might choose “personal injury lawyer” as your keyphrase. Unfortunately, though, it’s not just that easy. Unless you want to shell out hundreds of dollars every time someone clicks on your ad, this might not be the best option for your law firm.
Take a look at this example. If you’re set on using “personal injury lawyer” as your keyword phrase, you’ll have a lot of expensive competition.
The REAL Cost of Advertising on Google
Let’s take a look at what you’re really getting yourself into with these keywords.
- Search Volume = the number of times that keyphrase has been searched over the course of a month.
- SEO Difficulty = the level of estimated competition using this keyphrase in organic search results.
- Paid Difficulty = the level of estimated competition among paid search results.
- CPC = average cost per click, or the price you pay each time someone clicks on your Google Ad.
As you can see with this example, you could be paying over $130 every time someone clicks your ad with this keyword phrase.
Sometimes, narrowing your keyword or phrase down to something more specific to your firm can help — but not always. If you’re a personal injury lawyer specializing in car accidents, you’re in for a treat. The price of getting more specific in this case actually goes up.
In fact, according to Google AdWords, 78 of the top 100 most expensive pay-per-click terms are legal—as high as $500 per click just in specific locations — not even nationally.
With these price points in perspective, assume that roughly 3% of all consumers are in the market for a lawyer right now. When using Google Ads for your law firm, you are only targeting the 3% of consumers who are ready to hire a lawyer for their legal needs today.
That leaves you with an audience that is only a very small sliver of the market, which makes it painfully expensive to compete with every other lawyer who is looking to get the attention from that same 3% of people. That’s why the price is so high.
Now, if you’re the owner of a very large firm and you have money to burn, maybe this doesn’t seem like a problem to you. If that’s the case, then carry on with your PPC strategy, because it can be very effective for you to advertise on Google if you can afford it.
However, if you are a law firm owner looking to keep your marketing budget under control, we’re just going to say it: don’t advertise on Google using the old school keyword focus. It’s in your best interest to consider the other options to strengthen your Google marketing and consider some of the new targeting options within Google (more on that in a bit).
If you’re not convinced, think of it this way;
Problem: when consumers search for lawyers on Google, it is very competitive and expensive to get your firm’s name at the top of the search results.
Solution: give your ideal clients a reason to search your firm’s name, instead of letting Google Ads decide your luck.
Before you hit the back button because this isn’t the article you thought it would be, let us show you how spending your money on Google Ads is hampering your success.
97% of consumers have no need for a lawyer right now. They don’t have a legal problem, so they’re not even thinking about it. But 97% is a huge portion of the market — almost all of it, in fact.
Even if you were a huge law firm spending tons of money on PPC, and you managed to get all of the 3% of consumers in the market for a lawyer right now to hire you… that’s still only 3% market share. If you’re following where we’re going with this, maybe you’ve already figured out that you need to scrap the 3% idea, and start marketing to the 97%.
You have to gain brand loyalty from the 97% before they need a lawyer — that way, when the time comes that they do need a lawyer, they’re not just Googling “personal injury lawyer near me.” They’re skipping that step, and typing your firm’s name directly into the search bar, because they already know they’re going to hire you.
Make sense as to why just focusing on the 3% and keyword targeted Google Ads might be a wasted opportunity for expanding your market share?
The plot thickens. Google has recently tried to address the ever-increasing costs with a new approach called Performance Max, which is worth digging into a bit more on how this new change can improve your search campaigns.
What is Performance Max Anyway?
Performance Max campaigns were first announced back in October of 2020 as a way for Google to introduce more automation features into campaigns for its advertising products. Unlike some of the automated campaigns that are familiar to the legal space such as Local Search Ads, Performance Max allows you to run ads across all inventory. That includes everything from Google Ads to Gmail to the Display Network to YouTube, and so on.
Unlike traditional Google Ads that just use keywords, these campaigns use dynamic search ads — so all you supply is copy and image or video assets, and the automation selects what ads to run responsively. These types of campaigns are eligible to run across all of Google’s advertising inventory (again, Google Ads to Gmail to the Display Network to YouTube).
All you need to do is select your objective, a budget, location, and give Google a little idea of the ideal targeting so the artificial intelligence can do the rest. Then, Performance Max serves the ads on the Google platform the AI determines is best to reach that target.
Sounds nuts, right? The idea behind Performance Max is to make it easy to launch campaigns on Google without having to do all the grunt work up front, instead letting the artificial intelligence decide the best type of ad and budget to run.
While still relatively new, there have been some initial Performance Max results citing as much as a 22% increase in conversions (think leads for a law firm) and reduction of 20% overall cost per those leads.
But isn’t this a blog post about why you shouldn’t advertise just on Google? This Performance Max stuff sounds awesome!
It’s certainly an exciting development that could make Google Ads a really attractive and less cost-prohibitive approach if paired with other channels. The case studies that have been shared to date have these things in common:
- These advertisers still ran separate Google search ads ON TOP OF running Performance Max campaigns to see how each performed..
- The advertisers in these case studies are businesses that drive high amounts of volume already regularly on their own and have a constant cycle of high volumes of people in the “ready to buy” phase.
Most law firms will need to build up that kind of volume in order to see these types of results right off the bat. Again, think about that 97% who isn’t looking for a lawyer just yet. You need to market to those people and that can’t just be on Google targeting the 3% ready to hire right now.
You need a different approach.
A Tactical Legal Marketing Approach
As a law firm owner, you’ll need to begin by dialing in on what’s going to be most effective for your own, unique marketing strategy.
No matter what, a multi-channel marketing strategy is going to be essential. Multi-channel marketing combines a whole host of platforms and distribution methods into your overall marketing strategy. Optimizing your firm’s approach across a variety of platforms has proven to be the most profitable and sustainable method of marketing.
Without a multi-channel approach, putting all your efforts into one basket could be catastrophic: a single algorithm change could alter your entire strategy, or a crucial platform could become obsolete. For example, with Performance Max, Google is going to be killing traditional local ads and only putting them in Performance Max campaigns).
While consumers used to make decisions through the simple path above, the modern consumer’s journey looks very different. It’s not as linear, which is what makes the multi-channel approach so crucial to your firm’s marketing success.
A less diversified approach just means your law firm is missing out on numerous potential clients who are not using your preferred method of communication. The solution to this problem is simple, but requires effort.
You’ll need a targeted method to identify your ideal clients, choose the specific channels that will be most effective for your firm to reach them, and create consistent, high-quality content to grab their attention — and continuously nurture them with your messaging wherever they go online.
When choosing effective channels for your firm, take into consideration what will be most impactful to the right target audience, and how much it will cost you. This chart explains roughly how much it costs to reach 1,000 consumers on several different platforms.
Similarly, the next chart shows how many people you can reach on each medium for $1,000.
Selecting the right media mix for your firm is a unique decision for every law firm owner to make, but social media is clearly the most impactful option. By reaching the most people for the lowest cost, there is no question that every single firm should be taking advantage of social media marketing.
Now, what’s the point of all this? Multi-channel marketing, social media, brand loyalty — wasn’t this supposed to be an article about advertising on Google?
If you haven’t noticed yet, this is really all about why you should not advertise exclusively on Google.
Rather than spending your entire marketing budget on Google Ads that don’t work, it is much more effective to build brand loyalty among the large portion of consumers that are not in the market for a lawyer right now. This happens by becoming the best known law firm in your market.
That way, when any of those consumers finally do have a legal need, they’ll already know who to call.
Becoming the Best Known Attorney in Your Market
Just being the best in your market doesn’t matter — you have to be the best known in your market.
The best cases should go to the best lawyers. But unfortunately, they don’t. The best cases go to the best marketers. So if you’re the best lawyer in your field, it is your duty to become the best marketer in your field as well.
If you’re not marketing your firm the right way, you’re doing the people who need your help most a disservice.
As we’ve discussed, the solution to your legal marketing problem is creating brand loyalty among consumers before they have the need for a lawyer. This means staying top of mind, which can only be done if you are well-known — and that is only achieved when you are relentless in your marketing.
We’re here to help you become and remain the best known law firm in your market. Take the following keys to being the best known, and implement them into your firm’s marketing strategy.
1. Produce engaging content.
The best marketing is storytelling. Create high-quality content that provides value to your ideal clients in the form of engaging information, and they will begin to recognize you as an authority in your practice.
2. Ensure it gets in front of your ideal clients.
Your clients are unique to your niche. Find out where they spend most of their time. This could be scrolling through Facebook, or it could be on specific TV channels. Incorporate the appropriate platforms into your multi-channel strategy.
3. Leverage wholesale traffic.
Think of social media advertising like a “wholesale” deal. You’re reaching more people for less money, with targeting methods that are far more powerful than many other methods. Reaching more people online for less money makes it easier to dominate your market.
4. Assume no one heard your message.
Be relentless and diverse with your approach. Yes, this means that you need to send emails, even when you’re afraid they’ll annoy people. Because if you stop sending emails, that doesn’t mean your competitor did. Stay top of mind by being relentless on every channel you utilize.
At the end of the day, people cannot hire you if they do not know you. Becoming well-known by advertising on Google is nearly impossible, because you’re often competing for just 3% of the market with other firms who are spending an exorbitant amount of money to be at the top of Google’s search results.
This doesn’t mean cutting out SEO or PPC from your strategy entirely — you can still use Google Ads by narrowing your strategy to very specific and less expensive keywords that still boost your results on the search engine’s landing page.
The solution, instead, is to avoid spending your entire marketing budget by advertising solely on Google. Change your mindset and take advantage of a multi-channel marketing approach that focuses on social media as the most effective platform.