Top Announcements From Google Ads & Analytics Innovations Keynote

This morning, we tuned into the Google Ads and Analytics Innovations Keynote at the Google Performance Summit. The theme, overwhelmingly, was a focus on mobile;  “mobile is everything” and we’re living in a “mobile-first world.” Here’s what we learned:

Upcoming Changes to Google AdWords

  1. 50% more ad text. Ads will soon be made up of two 30 character headlines and an expanded description (up to 80 characters).
  2. Display ads. Where as currently you (or your designer) must create different ads in different sizes for each device, the process will soon be made much easier. In the future, you will only need to submit an ad headline, description, and image, and site URL and Google will create responsive ads for you.
  3. Individual bid adjustments for each device type. Instead of desktop being the default, you’ll be able to choose a base keyword bid for whatever device matters most to you, and then adjust for the others accordingly.

Location-Based Advertising Changes

  1. Location Extensions Expansion. Location extensions will be richer and more expanded, and will be shown on, the maps app, and Google Maps.
  2. Promoted Pins in Google Maps. Promoted pins will display to users as they’re navigating. For example, on your walk to the bus stop, you may see a promoted pin for a nearby Starbucks.
  3. Enhanced Accuracy. Using Beacon signals, accuracy will be improved allowing advertisers to better track in store conversions after a user clicks a mobile ad.

New Features for Display Advertising

  1. Similar Audiences for Search. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads currently allow advertisers to target users who have already been to your website. Using Similar Audiences for Search, you’ll be able to create a list of Google users who have not yet been to your site, but have similar demographics and interests to users who have visited your site.
  2. Demographics for Search Ads. This update will allow advertisers to adjust text ad bids based on age, as well as other user demographics.
  3. Extending reach of Google Display Network. The GDN will be expanded by giving advertisers access to Cross Exchange Inventory.

Finally, in the more distant future, advertisers can expect a complete overhaul to the AdWords user experience. There will be a new homepage dashboard, and a new campaign creation flow, among other updates. For a complete list of all changes announced, check out Search Engine Land’s coverage.

What do these changes mean for law firms?

The announcements, while exciting, have ambiguous release dates ranging from “in the next few months” to “2017”. So while you can’t implement these new features now, it’s a good time to make sure your advertiser is on top of these changes. If you run your own advertising, make sure you’re staying on top of release dates. If that sounds unrealistic, think about if now might be the right time to bring someone else in to help you out.

Call Only Campaigns

Nearly a year ago, AdWords announced Call Only Campaigns. In case you missed it, Call Only Ads are similar to traditional paid search ads – but they don’t link to your website. Instead, when searches click on the ad, they will be prompted to call your business.



If you are advertising with Google AdWords and are interested in people calling your business, you’re a candidate for Call Only Ads. The success of Call Only Campaigns is widely variable, like any advertising campaign. However, in some cases the results can be dramatic.

For example, we have one client who implemented Call Only Ads on November 1st, 2015.


Traditional PPC Campaign, From August 1st, 2015 to October 31st, 2o15

3 conversions

8.11% conversion rate

Call Only Campaign, From November 1st, 2015 to January 31st, 2016

15 conversions

31% conversion rate


By no means is this a perfect study, but an additional 12 conversions is nothing to scoff at. For more information on how to set up a Call Only Campaign, check out AdWords Help.

Why Your PPC Landing Pages Should Be Part of Your Website

In the world of legal marketing, we see a general push from our clients to have more than one website. We constantly see law firms with a website for each practice area, or, in this case, separate websites for general use and PPC landing pages. So we reopen the age-old debate – should your law firm have more than one website, specifically for PPC vs non-PPC purposes?

Separate domains for PPC landing pages

When running PPC campaigns, we’ve heard the experts urge us to have landing pages that are relevant and specific to the content mentioned in your add. But how to you integrate that content into your existing site, if it’s not there already? This dilemma becomes increasingly difficult when you are running more and more PPC campaigns – where do you put these pages?

An answer some are turning to – separate domains. For example, these sites below. On the left is the law firms “normal” website, on the right, their PPC website.

lemonlawexperts website screenshot
Main site at
PPC landing pages site at

Is this a good idea? Our stance, no.

Four Reasons to Have One Website for Your Business

  1. Google says so. Google does not like duplicate content. It has said so here. And if you weren’t convinced, Google releases algorithm updates like Panda that beat sites with duplicate content into a pulp. By having two websites discussing your law firm and a specific area of practice (lemon law, in this case) you’re bound to have nearly identical content. There is only so many ways you can say “we will help you with your lemon law case.”
  2. You’ll get more traffic. Having two websites is means you’re self-cannibalizing your traffic. Business school beat “synergy” into me – the idea that 1 + 1 can sometimes equal 3. The same concept applies here. Sure, you get traffic on your main site. And you get traffic on your PPC landing pages site. But chances are, if you consolidated the two, you’d get more traffic than the sum of them separately. And more traffic -> more clients -> more money -> happy you.
  3. Improve your ROI. The more websites you maintain, the more money you spend. You need to buy each additional domain, pay for hosting,
  4. Better user experience. Imagine this: your car sucks, desperately you do a Google search for a lawyer. You click a brilliantly constructed ad, and get taken to a site relevant to your search query. It’s all good so far. But then, you, the not-dummy you are, decide to poke around this site. Sure, there’s some content, but it seems weak. So you leave this crappy website because it doesn’t quite seem legit.

Consolidate Your Websites and Live a Longer, Happier Life

Seriously. Just do it. You’ll save money, probably see an uptick in traffic, and build some karma in the Google Gods book.

7 Reasons You Should Bid on Your Brand Name

Branded SearchWhen speaking about digital marketing, I’ve been asked time and again if companies should bid on their own brand name in Google AdWords and Bing Ads. “Should we create paid search campaigns based on our brand name? If we rank #1 organically, why pay for traffic that we’re going to get for free anyway? Isn’t it just wasting money?”

In short, SEO and PPC, when run together, are greater than the sum of their parts. Of course PPC costs money, and a branded paid search campaign might cannibalize a portion of your organic traffic, but according to a study from Bing, companies see an average of 32% more clicks when they appear in both organic and paid results.

That’s huge! But how does this happen? How do you get more clicks when you’re already ranking number one? Well, here are the 7 reasons why you should bid on your brand name and how it can help you get more clicks, leads and clients.

#1 – It’s Really Cheap

Keyword relevancy plays a big part in determining cost per click. Branded campaigns usually have the highest possible quality scores because “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Thanks Dr. Seuss, I couldn’t have said it better. When you bid on your brand name as a keyword, your quality score will be near perfect, because you are you! This high quality score keeps your costs lower than low. It won’t be free, but it won’t cost much.

#2 – It Makes Your Other Ads Cheaper

Instead of guilty by association, think cheaper by association. Your branded campaign’s high quality score raises the average quality score of your entire AdWords account. Your other campaigns benefit simply by being associated with a super high quality campaign. Boosting your average quality score will help lower all campaigns’ cost per click, making non-brand ads slightly cheaper.

#3 – Be the Right Answer & Own the SERP

serp exampleRanking number 1 organically is great, and something every company should be able to achieve for their own brand name. However, search engine results pages (SERPs) have a lot of different pieces. You have organic results, paid results, map listings, knowledge graphs, sitelinks, tweets… it’s a long list. If done correctly, you could cover the entire first page with properties you can manage, but it will always start at the top with paid advertising.

Users are also more likely to click through to a site if they see it multiple times. Prove that you ARE the site people are looking for by showing up again and again. If someone sees your paid ad, then your organic result, there is a sense of recognition and trust that begins to develop. Own your brand name and establish yourself as the correct answer to their question.

#4 – Hide Bad Things Below the Fold

Have some bad press you wish would stop showing up in search results? Going back to my last point, try to cover the SERP with properties you can control. Paid advertising pushes organic results down. If you’re taking up the whole page, there’s no room for bad press. Adding paid advertisements to a SERP that’s already filled with your website, maps and social profiles could be just enough to get those nasty stories onto the rarely seen SERP page 2.

competitor bidding#5 – Don’t Let Competitors Steal from You

Sometimes, competitors will bid on your brand name to try and steal clicks. There are some limitations and regulations, especially within the legal industry, but it is not entirely illegal. If you’re not bidding on your brand name and a competitor does, they will show up first – above your organic listing. This is NOT OK. Defend yourself and protect the top spot with a branded campaign to make sure you aren’t losing traffic to the guy down the street.

#6 – Generate Instant Leads with Click to Call

clicktocallCall extensions are a great tool you can apply to paid search campaigns. Having your phone number show up next to your ad, especially on mobile, is a great way to capture leads (not just traffic). If people are searching for your brand on their mobile device, help them get in touch with a single click. Not only does this button attract the eye, it’s an instant lead generator for anyone who clicks on it.

#7 – Control your Sitelinks

Those little links under your main website are usually great ways for users to dive right into specific content. However, you can’t 100% control which pages show up. Google displays what it thinks is most important, and sometimes, Google gets it wrong. With sitelink ad extensions, you can customize each link and direct people to where you want them to go. This is a great way to help control the look and feel of your brand on the search results page.

In Conclusion

I believe these 7 reasons end the argument of whether or not companies should launch branded paid search campaigns. It makes perfect sense to invest a small amount and increase your clicks by 32% over having organic alone. I say get more out of your brand. Run some high quality paid search campaigns and capitalize on the name you’ve worked so hard to build.

Should You be Advertising On Yahoo Gemini?

So you’re running PPC campaigns on Google AdWords and Bing Ads… what about Yahoo Gemini?

Yahoo launched its advertising platform, Gemini, in February 2014, but it’s been slow to gain traction. In the spirit of trying new things (we also recently checked out Yellow Pages advertising), we decided to give it a try.

Overview of Yahoo Gemini

Gemini is composed of two parts, much like Google AdWords Bing Ads:

  1. Search – Ads in Yahoo search results.
  2. Native Advertising – similar to display advertising, ads are placed on sites throughout Yahoo’s partner network.

Yahoo Gemini ads are served up to 49% of the time on desktop searches performed on, inherently limiting the volume of searches substantially. Our Gemini Account Executive also warned us that the Search side of Gemini gets significantly less volume (in terms of impressions and clicks) than the Native advertising. However, given the majority of our clients are interested in PPC advertising, we decided to forgo Native for the time being.

We’ve been running our test campaign for two weeks with a budget of $500. So far, we’ve received a whopping 14 impressions and 1 click… To it’s credit, the click only cost us $0.06.

Analysis of Gemini’s Search PPC


  • In my opinion, this is the most attractive feature of Gemini – cheap clicks. If you were to ever get a client from Gemini, the ROI would be insane.
  • Account Executive. When you sign up for Gemini, you get matched with an Account Executive who holds your hand through the set up process. None of the three I talked to had any knowledge or experience with other PPC platforms, but were nice enough.
  • AdWords Import. As of 12/9/15, you can now import Google AdWords campaigns into Yahoo Gemini. As of now you can’t import Bing Ads campaigns, but our rep said this was on the list for future improvements.


  • Low volume. We were instructed “not to bother” with branded campaigns, as the expected search volume would be too low. Even using very broad keywords in our initial test, 14 impressions isn’t worth the effort required to set up the campaign, in our opinion.
  • Confusing. We had to go a lot of places to learn about and use Gemini. There’s this Tumblr, their “intuitive” bulk edits schema objects and fields guide, the actual Gemini advertiser platform, billing done through Yahoo Wallet (which is now Aabaco Small Business’ Yahoo Wallet?)… You get the idea.
  • The first three times we tried to sign up, Gemini gave us incredibly helpful “Server Error.” After some troubleshooting, we’ve gathered that if you don’t use Google Chrome and turn your ad block off, you should be okay.
  • Bulk Edits Are a Nightmare. Common features in AdWords and Bing Ads, such as ad extensions, are only available in Gemini via their Bulk Edits process. Unfortunately, this process requires downloading a 51 column CSV and manipulating it referencing the protocol outlined in their bulk edits schema objects and field guide.

The Verdict

I’d suggest holding off on Gemini for now, unless you’ve got lots of time to kill. New features claiming to make your life easier will continue to roll out in the coming months, but right now, Gemini is a little too difficult and doesn’t produce results. Clicks may be cheap, but the time spent setting up campaigns doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.

YP Advertising’s Efficacy: Case Study

At Mockingbird we pride ourselves on the ability to push aside bias and focus on what works. Our hubris lies solely in being successful for our clients no matter which channel we use to find that success. This sort of flexibility along with our ability to track the efficacy of marketing spends requires us to constantly experiment with new channels. Our most recent marketing channel adventure is as follows…

A few months ago we were approached by Yellow Pages to try their new(ish) advertising platform called ypSearch Marketplace. We figured, why not? The economical theory makes sense – buy PPC traffic cheaper than you can in the ultra-competitive Google AdWords marketplace. After some sales pitches and onboarding calls we were off and running with our first 4 clients. We started with small investments to test the waters – a couple hundred dollars a month per client. I was told these budgets would not be enough to last an entire month, to which I replied, “Great I’m always happy to be wrong!” (Stole that line from my boss.)

However, I was not wrong. We started with a $300/month spend for one of my clients. It’s now been almost 3 months and we’ve spent a total of $335.21. There are many different reasons for this: infrastructure issues, credit card application mishaps, and lengthy on-boardings. Even after these infrastructure issues were solved, they didn’t seem to have the volume we needed to spend the money we had put aside for this test.

We’ll get back to that discussion a bit later, for now let’s look solely at the math. This is my favorite part because although it’s pre-algebra, not many people take the time to break it down.

(Numbers at time of report)

Client 1: Family Law, NY

  • Total spend: $331.66
  • Total clicks: 69 clicks
  • Cost per Click: $4.81
  • Total calls: 23 (4 of which were over 2 min)
  • Avg. duration – 264 seconds or 4.4 min (remove the outliers and you get an average of only 37 seconds!)
  • Total prospects: 0
  • Total clients: 0

Client 2: Personal Injury, FL

  • Total spend: $92.60
  • Total clicks: 11 clicks
  • Cost per Click: $8.42
  • Total calls: 9
  • Avg. duration – 42.61 seconds
  • Total prospects: 0
  • Total clients: 0

The math tells us the click-to-call ratio was 43% — or 4 of 10 people that clicked on the advertisement actually called the firm. That’s an absurdly high number (usually we see closer to 10-15%).

Now if you listen to the majority of the PPC experts and Online Advertising Guru’s out there you’ll be saying TAAAAKE MY MONEY! The KPI’s are through the roof; the click-thru-rate is insane, the cost-per-click couldn’t be lower, and the conversion rate is, well, unheard of. Seriously I’ve never heard of a 43% conversion rate. Let’s dig deeper because this is too good to be true.

How many of these leads turned into a prospect or client?

A total of 32 people called our 2 law firms and of these leads not a single one turned into a client or even a prospect. If you’re curious, we typically qualify a lead as a “prospect” once an appointment is made. I tend to avoid speculation, but if I had to guess, I would say the majority of these 32 calls came from PPC sales people trolling the directories for leads.

Final conclusion to the YP efficacy discussion…

Zero Prospects

Zero Clients

Zero Energy left to keep trying.

If your goal is to purchase traffic to your site, then maybe you should include YP’s advertising platform into your marketing mix. The cost-per-click numbers are comparable to Facebook and other cheap channels. However, if your objective is to drive leads, then maybe this isn’t the best channel for you.

Now, it’s important to note that we spent 20+ hours setting up a total of 4 small budget campaigns. This is atypical – but YP’s entire process was a disaster. Their billing was arduous, the user interface was a mess and the report was downright inane. There were problems at every step of the way. So if we now incorporate the overhead costs into our YP experiment, this was a huge financial quagmire. Again, let’s do that math on that. In order to get a 6x return for my family law client, we would need the cost-per-client to be roughly $500. Insert the classic advertising line, “If you get just one client it will be worth it!” but even that cliché marketing BS isn’t true in this case. We would need at least 5 clients at $500 cost-per-client to cover our labor costs alone (I wish I could tell you I’ve seen 5 solid leads…). When we brought up this issue with the reps from YP, their solution was to try more of a shotgun approach to keyword bidding. This may have solved our lack in volume and spend issue, but may very well lead to the same number of prospects and clients (0).

Simply put, the work isn’t worth the potential return.

We track all of our clients’ marketing spend pedantically, but our sample size was admittedly small. If you’ve had a different experience with ypSearch Marketplace, please let us know.

We’re always happy to be wrong 😉

Is Your Advertising Too Expensive?

Recently, we’ve had numerous clients raise complaints about various advertising vendors – all citing similar stories. Usually it goes something like this:

“I’m just not getting the return I used to”


“when I talk to my sales rep, they just tell me to spend more.”

Sound familiar? Chances are, it’s not just in your head.

First of all, online advertising options are getting more expensive. Over time, there will be more and more businesses on the web, making it a more a more competitive environment. More competition will lead to an increase in advertising, and the more businesses advertising will raise the prices of that advertising.

What you should be really looking at, then, is how one channel compares to the rest of the places you’re advertising.

Take, for example, this graph of a client’s Cost Per Lead over the past three quarters.

cost per lead graph

Over time, the 3rd party advertising (light blue column farthest to the right) is getting more and more expensive. This last quarter it nearly tripled it’s next closest competitors Cost Per Lead.

As their VP of Marketing, it’s our job to analyze the cost per lead and client of their various advertising channels, and advise them on how to make the most cost effective decisions. This trend in lead costs isn’t atypical – traffic to sites, competitiveness of a market, Google algorithm changes and more all can have large impacts on the ability of an online channel to succeed. Stay on top of your advertising investments with a detailed analysis no less than once a quarter. In this case, the data seems to paint a pretty clear picture to discontinue advertising with that channel. However, this won’t always be the case – even if one advertising channel is more expensive than the rest.

To decide whether to continue advertising, focus on what matters.

  1. Are you still getting an acceptable ROI? (And unless you like working hard for free, run screaming from that salesperson who validates their spend with “just one client and it will pay for itself.”)  
  2. If you were to put that money somewhere else, would you get a better return on your investment?

A final note: focusing on cost per lead (especially for law firms) can be a misleading metric for measuring the efficacy of a specific marketing channel. Some advertising channels are notoriously used as a lead list for ad sales people. Without digging deeper into the quality of each call, you can erroneously see a low cost per lead for a specific advertising channel caused by lots of phone calls… from advertising channel sales people. Cost per lead can be a good starting point, but it’s absolutely essential to take the next step and calculate the actual cost per client by marketing channel.

Facebook Advertising: The Importance of Extreme Targeting

Many lawyers and law firms are hearing about the upside of Facebook advertising – and the trick here is to use Facebook to deliver extremely targeted  ads.  And I can’t emphasize the importance of the phrase extremely targeted here.  This really is a needle in the Facebook haystack you are looking for and targeting includes both geo and demo and requires pretty good timing too.  And often, you’ll get it all wrong – which is why having a reporting infrastructure that tells you when its working instead of burning money is of utmost importance.

And remember – in legal – the vast majority of people aren’t looking for a lawyer right now.  Extreme targeting simply increases the likelihood that some of those seeing your ad are.  This is one of the reasons that retargeting on Facebook works so well.

Its very easy to burn money on Facebook advertising.  Here are a few obvious mistakes from companies paying to get in front of me on my Facebook feed this morning:

Missed Demo Target

While WeddingWire recognized that I’m in Seattle, its pretty easy to identify (and therefore exclude) married, 41 year old men from your advertising set.  Now perhaps I have some compatriot searching for a wedding venue for his daughter, but this is about increasing the liklihood of finding a buyer within your target.  So targeting unmarried ladies, 20-30 is probably going to return a much higher ROI, than middle aged married dudes.



Missed Dates

Lots of legal issues are time specific, so getting that timing correctly is pretty important.  Here’s an ad this morning for the Tough Mudder race – which I ran YESTERDAY. Lets not ignore the irony of their tagline – “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” The race isn’t going to return to the Seattle area for another 363 days. Well played – you may as well throw a Go-Pro camera into the lime green water under the Funky Monkey 2.0 obstacle, assuming it will float.




Flagrant Targeting

On the other side of the targeting effectiveness spectrum is the ad that flagrantly showcases their targeting.  In call caps: ATTENTION MARRIED BUSINESSMEN.  Now I’m guessing the targeting here is based on a few items – my age, marital status, and probably my MBA.  And the ad copy calls each of these items out – literally telling me, “this is here just for you and people like you.”

Wake Up

Put a Bird on It: Making Your Legal Imagery Soar

Portlandia Put a Bird on It

Put a bird on it. There is a reason that this phrase from the quirky Portland-based show has stuck around — well there are two reasons:

  1. By placing a bird image on clothing, bags, and otherwise utilitarian items, they became elevated to art, perceived as inviting and worth more. Short lesson: images matter.
  2. A once whimsical image that provided visual intrigue & lightness to mundane designs got overused. It is now a tired stereotype. It represents a lack of imagination and creativity. Short lesson: don’t put a bird on it…And let go of overused stock photography.

Why You Care

Images make ordinary things emotional, increase engagement, and can keep people on your content longer.

We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.

Hm…maybe I should have put that last bit in an image. Did you know that just by visually imagining a written word as an image, it increases the likelihood that someone will remember the word? Already we’ve got two reasons to include great images on our websites: faster connection, stronger connection. But there’s more.

Images pack powerful emotional and cognitive sway. Remember when you do the group cohesion tests to find out what kind of learner everyone is? Examples include auditory, kinesthetic…the list goes on. But guess what — big surprise here — pretty much everyone, is also a visual learner. One more reason that images are something to care about on your legal website.

Stock Images that Won’t Kill Your Spirit

So, you’ve decided, you will put some stock images on your website. Fair enough. Here are a couple of free resources: compilation of many free stock images, variety of local and other high-res photos. We just ask, if you can, don’t put a bird on it…unless your business name is Mockingbird Marketing, then you should certainly put a bird on it. Really though, as you make decisions about what defines your firm and what makes sense for your branding, one easy rule is this: steer clear of legal images that haven’t had a rest since pretty much the beginning of law. See below for a solid, though not comprehensive, list.

Spare Yourself these Top 7

  1. GavelsKitty Cat Decides Justice
  2. Scales of justice
  3. European judge (unless you practice in Europe)
  4. Statue of Lady Justice
  5. Piles and piles of law books
  6. Eagles
  7. American flag laid over any of the previous items

Here’s a quick tip: Google “law firm.” Select Images. Anything you find here is very, very tired. Be polite, let it rest.

You Are Above the Gavel

Think of your firm and your firm’s photos as a personal calling card. They represent who you are, your brand, and if you can give people the extra edge to associate your firm or your photos with your firm, then you are one step closer to a phone call. Visuals are a huge part of how we tell our story and how we initially engage with people. It’s often our first impression beyond a Google Search. So, if you have the budget, one better than selecting compelling stock photos is to have attorney and firm photos taken by a professional photographer.

Think about what defines your law firm. What differentiates you? And not just what is interesting to you; flip that around. What will potential clients find important? What about your firm will be of value to them?

For example, say you think your law firm culture — relaxed, Hawaiian shirt Friday — is quite delightful and unique. I agree, go for it. BUT before you publish your luau Friday firm look to the website, consider this: why does a potential client care? Unless you can share (visually, written, etc.) how your hang loose Hawaiian look benefits the client, then keep it internal. Because worst case scenario here, it can come across as self-absorbed and inward-thinking.

From Selfie to Self-Assured

So we’ve just compiled a list of things to avoid. Let’s shift gears to things that work. Again, great law firm photos can help bring to life your qualities, value, philosophy, and story. They can give you an edge on how you are different from other law firms.

Proud Kid AwardAfter launching over 500 legal websites, I have seen a wide array of law firm photos: the good, the bad and the ugly. From blurry head-shots, to poorly green-screened firm photos, to selfies in a courthouse bathroom, it’s all been done. And it all gets posted to the website.

Instead, take the time to hire a local photographer. Have staff prepared for the photoshoot and strategize beforehand with the photographer so that you know what you are going to get out of it.

Scout out locations in and around your office that are interesting. Are there major landmarks that people will recognize? Is there a good view near your location? Some of the best firm photos for websites are action photos. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just try to get everyone walking, speaking, and moving like great, engaging, caring humans do. Great law firm photos can tell a story and it is your job to make sure that story is worth telling.