Adwords for law firms

Everyone talks about getting instant referrals via the internet is quick and easy by using Google Adwords, but nobody really shows us the process in simple steps. I am going to guide you via a few simple steps to register, list your adverts and warn you of a few things that could cost you a packet if you are not aware of them lurking just below the surface to the first time user.


  1. Registration
    1. for simplicity sake, let’s assume you do not have a Google Adwords or a Google account. If you do have a Google account – like your Gmail account – login to that first before going into Adwords, as it will pick up details from that account.
      1. Click on the “Start Now” button
      2. Enter your email address and website address without the Http://
        1. Google will create a Google Account with this email address
        2. adwords registration page 1adwords registration page 2Click Continue
      3. Add the details to create a Google Account and click Next
      4. Go through the Privacy agreement and if you agree, click Agree 😉
  2. Your First Campaign
    1. Set your daily budget – MOST IMPORTANT – this sets how much Google will spend on your behalf each day – I don’t go higher than R100 – you can always increase this later.
    2. Click “Save” as you go through the options
    3. Set the target audience – the location of your target market. This should be set to the suburb of your law firm – but you can extend the net – don’t have too wide a net as it costs more and the people you are paying to click the Advert, might never do business with you. You only want to pay for the people who are prospective clients. Use the format as per my example: “Durban North, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa” it should pick up the area – if not expand your area a little, like the town.
    4. Leave the Networks as “Search Network and Display Network” – those you can fine tune at a later stage
    5. Keywords – It should have picked up some ideas from your website already, but if not use the Google Keyword Planner to research the keywords. Don’t assume the keywords they have found on your site are the best for you, use the Keyword Planner to do a little research. I’ll touch on this more later, as at this stage it will not let you go into the keyword planner as you are halfway through setting up your first campaign.
      2. Delete the keywords with the “X” next to the listings and leave only one for now. Don’t waste too much time, we will fix this later.
    6. Set your Bid – MOST IMPROTANT – don’t let Google adjust your bids – change the default to “I’ll set my bids manually”.
      1. Set the amount for the bid to 0.50 – 50cents – as you go forward with this you can adjust it. Google will indicate that you will get no clicks – don’t worry for now.
      2. adwords registration page 3
    7. Write your ad – I will touch on this later, as this is hugely dependent on the keywords you find with the keyword tool. Give the headline the same as the keyword you chose above. Enter text for your ad – enough to save, but make enough sense in case you make a mistake and publish this advert without editing it before it goes live.
    8. Fill in the Billing details – BUT – MOST IMPORTANT – change the “How to Pay”.
    9. How to Pay – MOST IMPORTANT – change the “Automatic Payments” to “Manual Payments” – automatic payments can run up your bill in no time, without your control.
    10. Complete the payments settings – I use a credit card, but make the same payment each time, so that I know if something suspicious is happening.
    11. Click the Save and Continue button
    12. Review – in this tab, check everything you have entered, and make sure the Payment amount for the Prepaid section of the billing is correct before clicking the “Accept” button at the bottom of the page.
    13. Registration is done and you need to confirm via the email that is sent to you.
  3. On the confirmation screen, click “Go to Your Account”
  4. Click on the “Get Started” and end the prompt wizard by clicking on the “X” in the window.
  5. Click on the “Campaigns” tab at the top
    1. In the list of Campaigns – select the one in a hyperlink colour that was created when you setup the account. Something like “Campaign #1”
    2. Campaing Adwords Editing page 1
    3. In the Ad Group Listing there will be the group created by default that we did in the registration, click the pencil which indicates “Editing” – change the name to something meaningful like “Business Law”.
    4. MOST IMPORTANT – In the Ad Group listing there is a green dot – click on the down arrow and select “Pause” – we don’t want the campaign running while we are busy setting up the keywords and advert.
    5. Now that the campaign is on hold – go to the top menu and select the “Tools” menu and then from the dropdown choose the “Keyword Planner”.
  6. Keyword Planner
    1. Under the heading “Find new keywords and get search volume data” select the option for “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.
    2. In the top entry field area enter the keywords you are interested in researching…
      1. Think of what part of your business you want to target
      2. View the keyword from the person on the other side of the Google search screen – what would they type to search for the services you offer
      3. You can start with a broad search and narrow it down, so you could start with “attorney” and then drill down for additional sub-keywords
      4. In the Targeting section, enter your suburb or town to make sure you work with a region where you are going to be targeting the web users
    3. Click “Get Ideas”
    4. Click on the Average Monthly Search Volume column to get the sorting from highest to lowest requests.
    5. The top table gives you the search term you asked for and the table below that contains keyword ideas that relate to the keyword term you requested
      1. Volumes are not going to be huge as we are dealing with a relatively small geographical area
      2. Ignore the pricing of the keywords, as I mentioned we start much lower and build up if we need to
      3. Just to give you an idea – if your firm was going to focus on giving very competitive conveyancing rates as a unique selling point – then a search term like “Affordable Conveyancing” would be a good search term – as these people would be wanting cheaper rates – whereas a firm looking for longer term business focused around conveyancing would use a term like “conveyancing explained”
      4. Try to get keywords that have a bit of traffic, the more the merrier
      5. You can also see trends over the last couple of months, you can automatically add these to plans where you can use them later in a campaign – for now make a list of the ones you want to use – for beginners start with between one and five – otherwise it is too much to monitor up front
      6. Now go back to your Adwords Campaigns
    6. Fine tuning the keywords and the advert itself
      1. Select the “Keywords” tab at the top of the campaign
      2. Click on the Add Keyword button
        1. Select the Campaign and Ad Group to be used
        2. Enter the keywords one under the other
        3. Now read about the Keyword Matching System Google uses – there are four main types:
          1. Broad Match and Broad Match Modifier (just the words – no delimeters but “+” in front of the Modifier if used)
            1. The phrase “Conveyancing explained” may return searches from people searching on “teaching conveyancing”, “selling property explained”, “selling explained”, “conveyancing fraud in electronic process explained” – the basic idea is that it will fine similar terms, it will also allow any number of words in between the search words – it could also allow for either one of the terms to be in the results
            2. Broad Match Modifier, restricts the similar terms, forcing terms that are a strong match and they have to appear in the results – for “+conveyancing explained” would force the results to have the word “conveyancing” but would allow loose related terms for the “explained” – I use this type a lot, to force one of the words in the search term. 
          2. Phrase Match (use inverted commas around the phrase “”)
            1. The phrase will appear in the search term, but may have words either side of the term you specify or a close related term – “conveyancing explained” would show when people use terms like “conveyancing explained to estate agents” or “property registration explained”
          3. Exact Match (use square brackets around the phrase[])
            1. This forces Google to only show your ad to people searching the exact term you have used or a variant very close like spelling mistakes, singular or plural options, abbreviations, stemming and accents
          4. Negative Match (when adding the keywords, there is an area to enter the negative keywords)
            1. Use terms that are similar to your search terms but are not related to your topic – like – “teaching” with the above example – you want “explained” but not “teaching”.
        4. For a better description of these match types visit this explanation at Google Adwords help:
  7. Changing the Ad
    1. Click on the “Ads” tab at the top menu, click the checkbox for the ad you created in the setup and click on the pencil to edit. Accept the warning from Google about the editing process.
    2. Make sure the keyword is in the heading
    3. Make sure you use the keyword somehow in the text, allowing it to be legible
    4. Note that a full stop allows the first line to be included with the heading, sometimes this makes it worse
    5. Try to include your unique selling point here – like being in the local area – or best pricing or best experience or best team
    6. Campaing Adwords Editing page Ads
  8. Your law firm landing page
    1. MOST IMPORTANT – make sure your law firm webpage that you use to host these people who click on your Google Adwords advert land on a page that supports your keyword that you have chosen, as Google looks at this when scoring your advert on placements – for the same value they may put your advert ahead of another just because your landing page is more relevant to the advert.
  9. Go back to your Ad Group via the menu at the top and activate your advert again by clicking on down arrow next to the “Pause” symbol and select “Enable”.

This will give you a good start to Adwords with Google search – but remember to monitor these ads every morning to see how they are performing. Unless a critical change is needed, make amendments to these ads to improve your score and ranking once a week, otherwise you don’t have enough data to go on. 

The bids you can change after the first week, but make small changes – if you are constantly in the top spot, you can drop your bid.

I bit off more than I could chew with this post – it requires more time than I anticipated. This is a whale of a topic and we need to eat it in small bites…one at a time. We will chow down in the future…guaranteed.


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