6 Ways to Avoid Expensive Pay-Per-Click Advertising Mistakes

pay-per-click advertising 1Advertising on the Internet is a different and unique medium for promoting your product or service. Nothing serves as a better example than the incredibly popular – and effective – Pay-Per-Click advertising. By creating an ad and selecting the appropriate keywords, your ad pops up when users enter those keywords into their search. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, you only pay for the advertising when someone clicks on your ad.

Pay-per-click advertising is incredibly popular among lawyers, in particular. In fact, the keywords “attorney” and “lawyer” are among the ten most expensive keywords on Google’s AdWords PPC program. Given the cost, you really need to make sure that you’re getting the most you can get from your pay-per-click advertising campaign.

Here are 6 Ways to Avoid Expensive Pay-Per-Click Advertising Mistakes:

1) Check your local ethics rules

Let’s be honest, this should be your first step when considering any advertising venture. It would be rather silly to spend time and money on an ad campaign only to get slapped with an ethics charge that could have easily been avoided. As a unique form of advertising, PPC ads have their own ethical issues that go along with them.

On top of making sure you meet all the regular advertising requirements, you need to check your local rules to find out if there are any specific requirements regarding the keywords you choose. In North Carolina, it’s considered misleading under the rules to use the name of a competing law firm as a keyword, in an attempt to direct some of their customers to your site. While this particular rule does not apply in all jurisdictions, make sure you find out what types of keywords are appropriate for your market.

2) Target your local market

As an attorney, your ability to serve clients has geographical limits – you can only provide legal advice in states where you’re licensed to practice law. Therefore, it’s pretty pointless, and potentially a huge waste of money, to advertise your services anywhere you’re not licensed. Moreover, just because you’re licensed in a state doesn’t mean you need your ad popping up all over the state. For example: I live in Charlotte, but I really have no interest in driving 4-5 hours to serve clients in New Bern.

Using Google AdWords, you can restrict your advertising to a country, an area within a country, or to customers within a certain radius. In fact, you might want your ads to appear in a different location than your business, depending on the ad.

Beyond basic location targeting, you can further narrow your advertising to certain “Location Groups.” You’re able to target your ads to places of interest, where the ads will only be seen by people in specific locations like a particular airport, university, or commercial area. You can also narrow your targeting by demographic group. Although this only currently supports narrowing by average household income, this tool is expected to be expanded in the near future.

3) Research your keywords

As I mentioned above, the keywords “lawyer” and “attorney” are two of the ten most expensive keywords on Google’s AdWords ad platform. According to a recent report by Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company:

“For instance, the keyword ‘bankruptcy attorney’ costs between $10 and $15 per click and if you add a geo-modifier (Los Angeles Bankruptcy Attorney for example) the cost per click goes up to $20 plus,” says the lead generation site LeadRival.

As an attorney, PPC advertising can be very expensive, so make sure that the keywords you are using reach the type of audience you expect to be interested in your firm’s legal services. I highly recommend using things like the Google Keyword Planner or other keyword research options. You’ll get an idea as to how popular the keywords you’re thinking of will really be, as well as an estimated cost of your ad campaign – two crucial pieces of information.

If you’re new to PPC advertising, bite the bullet and talk to a marketing firm that specializes in Internet advertising. The up-front cost of their advice could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

4) Analytics, analytics, analytics!

pay-per-click advertising 2I harp on this in all of my marketing/advertising posts for one reason: knowledge is power. Taking the example from Lawyers Mutual I discussed above, consider this:

“If you assume that one out of every five clicks results in a new lead (a very optimistic conversion rate) then you can expect to pay $50 -$100 per lead when you run search campaigns using the term ‘bankruptcy attorney.’ If your click to lead rate is eight to 1 or 10 to 1, then your cost per lead rises to $80 – $200 per lead.”

Without using the analytics tools at your disposal, particularly for tracking conversions from your advertising, you’ll never know if the money you spend is worthwhile. Sure, you may know how many people got to your website via your PPC ad. But tracking conversions, such as how many filled out an online intake form, signed up for an email newsletter, or sent you an email.

For more tips on tracking your conversions, check out Google’s guide to setting up conversion tracking. For more great tips on tracking your website’s effectiveness, check out this article.

5) Use the right pay-per-click advertising network

Google AdWords has two very different networks that its PPC ads appear on: the Search Network and the Display Network. When you start a campaign, the default actually sets to use both networks. For most attorneys, leaving this unchanged would be a mistake!

Placing ads in Google’s Search Network consist of search engines like Google, Google Maps, and other affiliated search networks. Your ad will appear in the “sponsored” section at the top when someone searches for your keyword. Doing the same with Google’s Display Network will display your ad in places like Gmail, YouTube, and millions of other similar types of affiliated sites. Your ads will appear alongside relevant content, but not as the result of a specific search.

Using Google’s Display Network is going to send your ad to exponentially more people, but to whom your ad is likely to have less relevance. Not only is this likely to blow through your ad budget much faster, it is also likely to dramatically decrease your return on investment, generating traffic to your site with no interest in hiring an attorney.

6) Write a good ad!

Don’t go through all the trouble of creating an entire PPC ad campaign only to put up a crappy ad. Make sure that whatever keywords you use figure prominently into your ad’s copy. (It’s important, they’ll appear in bold when someone searches for those terms!) Moreover, make sure that your ad makes sense for the keywords you’ve chosen. Using the keyword “bankruptcy lawyer” for an ad about personal injury law is unlikely to generate much traffic.

Beyond the keywords, make sure that your ad contains a “call to action.” Just like a good closing argument, you want your ad to convince your audience not just that you’re good at what you do, but to encourage them to act on that information.

Just make sure that you have a good website waiting when your prospective clients get there!