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Frequently asked questions about legal advertising
Kaleidico — a proven legal marketing agency

There’s still a lingering old-school attitude hanging over some law firms — that lawyers shouldn’t advertise their services because it’s illegal, or a gray area at best

But that’s just not the case. 

Up until 1977, legal advertising was considered illegal, until the Bates v. State Bar of Arizona case led to a Supreme Court reversal on legal advertising.

Even though this happened 45 years ago, we encounter legal clients who still feel unconfident about starting ad campaigns!

Sure, advertising law firm services through traditional means has been legal since 1977, but what about the advent of the internet and digital marketing? Are there extra rules put in place regarding online legal advertising?

Yes, there are, but don’t worry, because they’re not that complicated.

In this article, I’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions we encounter when meeting with legal clients for the first time who want to start a PPC campaign.

Kaleidico has been in the digital advertising industry for over two decades. We run into a lot of the same concerns from new legal clients when we start their ad campaigns. 

If you’re interested in different types of digital advertising, such as PPC ads, check out the rest of this article for our recommendations.   

Disclaimer: I am a content writer, not a lawyer, so please do additional research and check your local jurisdiction’s laws regarding online advertising.

1. Can lawyers legally advertise themselves online?

The short answer: Yes.

Ever since 1977 lawyers have been legally allowed to advertise themselves and their legal services in the United States. This extends to the digital revolution and the advent of online advertising since the mid-90s.

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2. What is PPC for lawyers?

PPC stands for pay-per-click ads, which are ads that charge a fee to the lawyer every time their ad is clicked on. 

When an ad is shown but not clicked, however,  the lawyer is not charged. This is known as an “impression.”

PPC ads typically show up at the top of Google’s search engine results page (SERP), usually in the top 5 spots in the search results. To distinguish themselves from organic, or unpaid search results, ads must be labeled “Ad” next to their post.

To get legal PPC ads shown in this coveted top position of Google, lawyers are required to “bid” on specific keywords or search terms to trigger their ad once a searcher types in their specific keyword. The bid is the maximum amount a lawyer is willing to pay per click to get their ad shown. 

Not surprisingly, PPC ads for lawyers are extremely competitive and account for some of the most expensive keywords.

Did you know that “best motorcycle accident lawyer” was one of the most expensive keywords in Google Ads in 2022? In fact, many of the expensive keywords were variations on “car accident lawyer” “motorcycle accident lawyer” and “truck accident lawyer.”

3. Are PPC ads for attorneys worth the cost?

PPC ads provide a fast pass to the front of Google’s search results, however, it will cost you. That isn’t to say that PPC ads aren’t worth the cost — they are. 

PPC ads for lawyers are extremely important for generating traffic to their website, and are crucial for most lead generation strategies.

Here’s the thing — content marketing, blogging, and SEO work takes time to get a law firm’s website to the first page of search results.

But with PPC ads, your firm’s website can get on the first page of results in a matter of one business day. 

Here’s a tip: Don’t bid on the keyword “lawyer” because it’s so vague. 

It doesn’t specify what type of lawyer people are looking for. A person looking for a divorce lawyer who types in “lawyer” isn’t going to be interested in a malpractice lawyer.

The key is to find long-tail search terms, which are specific search terms that use a lot of words. These keywords often have lower competition and a lower bid price. Because they’re more specific, they’ll also result in a higher click-through-rate (CTR).

I’m not going to lie, PPC ads and Google Ads campaigns are confusing and require a full-time PPC specialist to navigate the online space. Google is constantly changing their ads policies and search algorithm, and can be hard to keep up with.

PPC ads are also incredibly easy for amateurs to mess up, which can result in seriously wasted money if the campaign isn’t properly set up. For instance, setting the lifetime budget of an ad campaign to the daily budget — yikes! 

I recommend working with an experienced PPC company that knows what it’s doing to see real results and not burn a hole in your pocket.

4. Can law firms use Google Ads?

The most competitive law firms depend on Google Ads to drive high quantities of traffic to their website. 

Along with SEO, PPC ads are usually the main source of traffic for law firm websites and is part of an overall lead generation strategy.

5. What kinds of Google Ads are used by lawyers?

Google Ads currently has nine different ad formats used to reach any target audience, with more ad types growing each year.

However, lawyers don’t need to use all nine types. Instead, most law firms stick with the most basic ad formats, including:

  • Text ads, text-only ads that show up in search results
  • Display ads, image ads that typically show up in banner ads on third party websites
  • Video ads, which show a single video on websites such as Youtube or news websites

Google has a 91.56% market share on internet search engines, while Bing has a 3.1% market share. 

However, this still accounts for millions of users who are being ignored by mainstream digital advertising campaigns!

The upside of Bing’s lower market share is also a drastically reduced keyword price for PPC ads and campaigns. 

It may be worth considering running Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads) to reach an untapped audience.

Facebook Ads are a great alternative to Google Ads, in that they’re simpler to set up and have powerful targeting capabilities to reach millions of users.

However, unlike Google Ads, which target users actively searching for legal help, Facebook Ads work more passively — ads are shown to people based on their interests, pages followed, and user behavior. 

This means your ad won’t show to people actively searching for legal help, which may result in lower intent generated leads.

Facebook Ads are quite effective at building a following for your law firm’s Facebook page or redirecting traffic to your law firm’s website.

8. What kinds of Facebook Ads are available for lawyers?

The Facebook Ads manager has five main ad formats used to reach a wide variety of audiences. Keep in mind that Facebook Ads also show on Instagram and WhatsApp.

The five Facebook Ads formats are:

  1. Image ads, which are picture based ads
  2. Video ads, which show a single video
  3. Slideshow ads, consists of 3-10 images that can be swiped through
  4. Carousel ads, similar to slideshows
  5. Collection ads, used to display online store’s products

However, not all of these ad types are appropriate for legal advertising. For instance, the collection ad format, which is used for eCommerce, isn’t applicable.

Keep in mind that Facebook and Instagram posts can also be promoted or “boosted.” These options take a regular post and show it to people who follow you, and others who don’t to get much more visibility. You can choose to boost it by however much you want.

Ever see an Instagram ad that had 10,000 comments? That’s a really good post that’s just been promoted again and again. And it works.

9. How much do lawyers spend on PPC?

Most lawyers typically start with a minimum of $1,000 per month on a PPC campaign. However, larger and more competitive firms often spend much more than this per month. It all depends on the size of the law firm and their campaign’s goals and objectives.

Keep in mind that legal keywords are some of the most expensive on Google Ads, after “business services” related keywords. 

You can get a discount by advertising on Bing, which has lower prices. Of course, there are fewer Bing users than Google, which accounts for the lower keyword prices. 

10. What is law firm SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an overall digital marketing strategy that increases a law firm’s website’s visibility in Google searches.

The main goal of your law firm’s SEO is to get your website in the top position of Google’s search results, because the first result receives the lion’s share of traffic.

However, getting the first position in Google can be difficult. Many marketers strive to get their clients website at least on the first page of results.

SEO strategy consists of a myriad of tactics that aim to incrementally improve a website and its content’s visibility in online searches.

Some law firm SEO strategies include:

  • Keyword research to find high volume search terms
  • Frequent blog writing using specific search terms to draw in more traffic
  • Optimizing a website’s layout for better scannability
  • Add a security certification, such as an HTTPS to protect user’s privacy
  • Adding more images to a website
  • Adding more videos to a website
  • Receiving more backlinks from other websites. This is done by publishing high-quality blogs that other websites link back to.

11. How important is it that my law firm has a website?

Having a law firm website is incredibly important for generating leads, establishing online authority, and winning over your prospective clients.

Lawyer’s websites generate traffic in two main ways:

  1. Producing blog content that satisfies a Google searcher’s question
  2. Creating PPC ads that direct Google users to their website. 

Without a website, lawyers wouldn’t have a good way to generate their own leads online — they would rely on lead generation agencies to buy all of their leads. 

Sure, a law firm heavily relies on client referrals, but referrals simply aren’t enough to fuel a law firm’s business. 

A law firm needs to have an established web presence as further social proof and as the main lead generator.

12. Can a lawyer claim to be an expert online?

Be careful when claiming yourself as an expert or specialist in your online advertisements and written content. 

According to the AMA’s Rule 7.4(d): Communications of Fields of Practice and Specialization: 

“(d) A lawyer shall not state or imply that a lawyer is certified as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless: (1) the lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association; and (2) the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.”

13. Can a lawyer legally ask for online reviews?

Yes, lawyers are legally allowed to ask clients for online reviews and should ask for reviews. 

However, Rule 7.2 set forth by the American Bar Association states regarding recommending a lawyer’s services: 

“(b) A lawyer shall not compensate, give or promise anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services…”

The exception to the rule is that lawyers can pay a marketing or advertising company to promote their services. 

14. Can lawyers use tracking cookies for retargeting ads?

Have you ever visited a website, left that website, and then a couple days later saw an online ad for the same website? That’s a retargeting, or remarketing ad.

Retargeting ads placing a tracking cookie in your visitor’s browser. Then, if you decide you want to advertise to that person, you can place a display ad in up to millions of websites in Google’s Display Network showing your company’s ad to the very same person who visited your website previously. 

Retargeting ads are great for nudging people back to your website, where you can get them to fill out a form. They’re quite effective, too. 

Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads offer retargeting ads, however, be sure to check the advertising policies to make sure ads aren’t exploiting people’s personal troubles.

Placing a tracking cookie in a visitors’ browser may be a gray area when it comes to legal advertising. Check your local jurisdiction’s rules concerning tracking cookies — some areas allow them, while others do not. 

Kaleidico is a lead generation agency for law firms, mortgage lenders, and fintech tech companies.

We are a full-service marketing agency that’s qualified to completely revamp your law firm’s digital marketing strategy and focus your legal advertising to generate leads.

Work with us and watch your case leads increase.

Dowload our free 90-Day Law Firm Marketing Plan

About Matthew Dotson
Matthew Dotson is a freelance writer experienced in blog, copy, and technical writing. He covers everything from marketing and digital advertising to technology and senior living. Previously, he worked for a Y Combinator tech startup in the Silicon Valley and traveled the country covering auto shows for Ford Motor Company. Matthew is also a multi-instrumentalist who composes, produces, and records original music. He enjoys photography, videography, fine art, and cinema.

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