Is Your Brand Synonymous (to Google) with Personal Injury?

Google AdWords broadmatch is very broad. In fact it’s broader than I had thought.

Essentially, AdWords knows that “attorney” means “lawyer” “law firm” and lots of other variants. It is so broad, in fact, that branded queries for law firms: (i.e. Smith Jones and Williams”) are starting to turn up ads for competing law firms, even though there’s nothing in the branded query that denotes a law firm specifically. Semantically, “Smith Jones and Williams” could be accounting, or a pizza restaurant, or a document or an island, or a treaty from the 1700s… but Google has learned that people looking for that specific firm are actually looking for a criminal defense lawyer and are showing ads for other localized criminal defense lawyers.

Here’s an example I did from my Seattle office, for a huge personal injury law firm in Texas. Note that three ads for Seattle based PI firms show up for the very specific query: “Glasheen Valles”.

 

What this means tactically:

  1. Lawyers should bid on their own brand name. This includes the firm as well as individuals.
  2. Broad match in AdWords may be a path towards spending a lot of money on expensive PPC terms. A sophisticated campaign should be MUCH more specific.

 

How to Utilize Ad Extensions in the Legal Industry

One of the easiest ways to enhance your Google AdWords search ads is to implement Ad Extensions. AdWords offers quite a few types of extensions, but some of them just don’t make sense in the legal industry. In this post, I’ll go through the different types of extensions, what they look like, and which are my personal favorite.

Types of AdWords Ad Extensions:

  • Sitelink Extensions
  • Call Extensions
  • Location Extensions
  • Callout Extensions
  • Structured Snippet Extensions
  • Review Extensions
  • Message Extensions
  • Affiliate Location Extensions
  • Price Extensions
  • App Extensions

Sitelink Extensions:

These are essentially extra pages on your site that someone can visit directly from your ad in search results. You can choose which links you’d like to show up for specific campaigns or ad groups, which gives you the option to link the most relevant pages for that specific subject.

How this works for Legal:

Say you’re an attorney who practices both criminal and family law. You don’t want your DUI page showing up alongside your Divorce ad, so make sure you choose the correct level of placement.

AdWords Sitelink Extensions

Call Extensions:

This adds your phone number to your ad. Mobile and desktop versions will have slightly different functionality since you can make a call directly from the mobile ad.

How this works for legal:

This gives your potential clients a direct line of communication to your office without ever having to visit your website. This is a great option for those who already know they need a lawyer, or those who would rather talk to a real person to get answers about their specific case.

Pro Tip:

Add two call tracking numbers, one for desktop and one for mobile, in order to track visitors who never actually visited your website.

 AdWords Call Extensions

Location Extensions:

A location extension is a direct link to your Google My Business page (make sure your name, address, and phone number is correct!). What’s great about these is that not only can you get your address in your ad, but this also makes it possible for you to show up as an ad in Google Maps.

How this works for legal:

A lot of people choose attorneys based on location. This extension allows you to be more visible for “near me” searches.

AdWords Location Extension

Callout Extensions:

Callout extensions are essentially short, call to action statements.

How this works for legal:

If you offer free consultations, are a certified specialist, or accept calls 24/7, this is the place to share it.

AdWords Callout Extensions

Structured Snippet Extensions:

These are types of products or services you offer.

How this works for legal:

This is where you can specify the types of law you practice, or break out sub-practice areas. Ex: Child Custody, Child Support, and Divorce.

AdWords Structured Snippet Extensions

Review Extensions:

These are short reviews of your business, found on external sites. These are not automatically pulled from those sites, so you can choose which reviews you submit.

How this works for legal:

Reviews are an important part of any business, but are especially important in gaining new legal clients.

Special Note:

Of the available review extensions, these are the hardest to get approved, making them my personal favorite. If you’d like to learn my tips and tricks for getting reviews approved, join me for a webinar on September 13th! You can find more information and register here.

AdWords Review Extension

Message Extensions:

These are similar to call extensions, but for text messaging.

How this works for legal:

First, if you’re not open to receiving text messages, this isn’t a review extension you should use, and most potential legal clients won’t contact via text in the first place. But, if you’ve found this to be different for your practice, make sure you’re connecting a number that can receive text messages, or you’re using a call tracking service like CallRail that allows text messaging.

AdWords Mobile Extensions
Examples of multiple AdWords mobile ad extensions.

Affiliate Location Extensions:

This type of extension is only available to retail chains. They show searchers nearby locations of your retail store.

How this works for legal:

It doesn’t. At least not yet. Once this extension is available to smaller, non-retail businesses, law offices with multiple locations will be able to benefit from this really cool feature.

Price Extensions:

Price extensions give you up to eight cards to share prices for specific services.

How this works for legal:

We don’t use price extensions for legal because most practices don’t have set prices for multiple services. This may be an option for some attorneys who have standardized services.

App Extensions:

This extension gives you the option to link to your mobile app.

How this works for legal:

Since most attorneys don’t have an app for their services, this extension doesn’t really apply.

Email Marketing with Mailchimp: 3 Steps to Success

MailChimp is pretty intuitive, but can still be intimidating for the uninitiated. If you’re considering using MailChimp for your own email marketing, here are 3 steps you’ll need to be familiar with as you get started, as well as a random assortment of helpful information to help guide you along the way.

1. Choosing Your Plan

Before you start blasting out tantalizing email campaigns, you need to choose a plan. Here are your choices:

  • Free plan: up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. This is a good way to dip your toes in. The idea here is that you’ll start using Mailchimp, like it, and eventually accrue more  than the 2,000 subscribers allowed under the free plan, and start paying.
  • Growing Business: Once you’ve outgrown the free plan, Mailchimp charges based on number of subscribers (these are people receiving your emails). These plans start at $10 a month and each allows an unlimited amount of emails to be sent. If you come to rely on MailChimp, you’ll end up using some version of this plan. These plans come with increased capabilities such as automation, integration (Salesforce, Sugar, Google Analytics), and targeting.

Mailchimp plan pricing

  • Pro Marketer: At an additional $199 per month, you’ll really need to be leaning in to Mailchimp for this to make sense businesswise. This enables e-commerce functionality, A/B Testing, comparative reports and more robust automation.

2. Lists

Once you’ve chosen an account type, it’s time to import your email lists into Mailchimp. Assuming you have a preexisting list of email addresses you want to market to, it’s time to add these emails to Mailchimp in segmented lists that makes sense for marketing purposes.

  • Within Mailchimp, navigate to “Lists” and then “create new list”. From here you’ll be able to set a name, “from” email address, the contact information that will appear at the bottom of the email you send out, as well as notification preferences. Once you’ve completed this step, it’s time to import your email list.

Mailchimp you have no contacts page

  • You can do this by creating an excel workbook that includes the information you want (email, first and last name, generally). If you have trouble, Mailchimp provides some helpful resources.

When building your lists, you want to keep targeting in mind. It’s your goal to give each recipient the experience that most closely matches their interests. For example, if you’re a law firm that practices personal injury and medical malpractice, you’ll want to break your emails up into groups that correspond to each of these interest groups. One list for personal injury, one list for medical malpractice. If a potential client contacts a firm because they’re interested in a certain topic, a quick way to frustrate that person is to send them a bunch of emails about something completely unrelated to what they originally inquired about. The more specific you email lists, the better.

3. Campaigns

Here’s where we get into the bread and butter of getting your email marketing started. Mailchimp will have you customize the following fields: recipients, setup, template, design, and confirm.

  • Recipients: this is where you choose the specific list you made earlier. Your lists and campaigns should align nicely.
  • Setup: This is where you lay down the backbone of your campaign. Here you’ll add your campaign name, email subject, “from” name and email address, and perhaps most importantly, Google Analytics tracking. Assuming you have Google Analytics on your site, integrating Mailchimp with GA is easy. From the “settings” menu, title your campaigns under “Google Analytics link tracking” how you want them to show up in Analytics. Mailchimp will automatically tag each email with a utm code that uses the name you input here.
  • Template: Here you choose the template you want for your campaign. Mailchimp gives you plenty to choose from. These range from templates geared towards selling products, making an announcement, or telling a story. In addition to these categorized templates, there are also more general templates to choose from:Mailchimp template screenshotsIf none of these templates work, Mailchimp gives you the option to code your own templates.  It’s a good idea to have a consistent template built out for regular newsletters. This will quickly prove worth your while the next time you send out your newsletter and have a prebuilt framework to go off of.
  • Design: Once you’ve chosen a template, it’s time to make it your own. In “design” you are able to add text, links, images, buttons, videos, color, and more. You can spend as much (or as little) time in this section as you want.
  • Confirm: This is where you review your campaign, and schedule its send date and time. I generally try to send emails earlier in the week, and around 10 AM Pacific time.

If you have any questions about how to do this yourself or want us to handle your marketing for you, give us a call.

4 Things Every PPC Account Needs To Exclude

Are You Utilizing Your Budget To It’s Fullest Potential?

If you haven’t looked at these 4 settings in AdWords, your campaigns are probably wasting money.

When building campaigns, people typically focus on what to include: specific keywords, compelling ads, competitive bids. However, what you exclude from your campaigns can be equally as valuable and make your budget go even further.

Exclude Your Company’s IP Address

Clicking your own ad is a great way to waste your advertising budget. If you or your employees are doing this, you need to stop immediately!

Of course many people refrain from this behavior because they know that ads cost money. What many people don’t know is that just seeing your ad, even without clicking, can hurt your campaign as well.

Every impression counts, and if Google sees that users (including you) don’t click your ad, they’ll penalize your campaign. An impression without a click lowers your click through rate (CTR), which can lower your quality score (QS), which can increase your cost per click (CPC), which can lead to fewer clicks and fewer leads.

Make sure to block your company’s IP address to avoid costly clicks and inflated impressions.

Exclude People In Other Countries

The location setting “People in, searching for, or who show interest in my targeted location” is the best way to capture everyone looking for services in your area.

The problem arises when people in other countries (I’m looking at you Philippines and Myanmar) start Googling “accident attorney Austin TX” and start wasting your budget. While Google is usually great at blocking this kind of spam, sometimes these clicks sneak past their filter.

To add that extra level of security, make sure to select “People in my excluded location” and add every country you don’t want business from.

Exclude People Looking For Other Cities

If you’re an accident attorney in Tampa, and a Tampa resident searches for “car accident attorney Dallas”, there is a good chance your ad will show. They used a keyword you’re bidding on and they’re right down the street! However, it’s easy to see they don’t want a Tampa attorney, and that click isn’t worth anything to you.

Make sure to add all major cities to your negative keyword list, and routinely check your queries report for minor cities to add later.

Exclude Non-Business Hours

Letting your campaigns run 24/7 seems like a great way to capture the most business. You always want your ads to show, right? Well, actually, no. Many companies can’t take calls after hours, or they need to return emails right away to successfully convert a lead to a client.

If your intake team isn’t capable of handling leads after hours, don’t waste your budget on clicks you can’t convert.

Make sure you exclude non-business hours from your ad schedule.

Conclusion

These advanced PPC strategies can help any AdWords account become that much more competitive and successful. If you’re not already doing this, take 15 minutes and make a few simple updates! Your budget and bottom line will thank you.

Cute Kittens do NOT Generate Lawyer Business

File this in the stupid social media column.  I thought we had all learned that the number of FaceBook friends, Twitter followers, Google plusses, Snapchat SnapQuantiences and Meerkat Meerkittens had nothing (or so close to nothing its not worth blowing your time on) to do with generating business.  But apparently I’m wrong…. the legal marketing industry is still preaching this stuff, so I’ll keep pushing back, even though I’d rather chew rusty nails then revisit the topic.

But first, let me start with the punchline:  people who “liked” the picture you posted of your Maine Coon kitten sitting in a jack-o-lantern are unlikely to hire you because of it. They also, are highly unlikely to build a good strong personal relationship with you over social media. And they certainly aren’t going to post on Facebook: “I just got a DUI, do you know any lawyers?”

More likely, they just really like kittens. Or Halloween. Or they are 7 years old.  Or they live in Holland. Or they are my mother-in-law.

I didn’t think this post needed to be written, but apparently it does.  I’m taking all names out of the following interchange I shared on Facebook. What follows is NOT tongue-in-cheek irony….

There were a few voices of reason:

Previous comments are absolutely right: paid social for “as needed” legal services like divorce and DUI are unlikely to be an effective use of marketing budget. No matter how good your content is, you aren’t going to convince someone to get divorced or arrested to use your service. And unlike with search marketing, you can’t narrowly target people searching for your service.

And one commenter had it totally nailed:

But why was she “(Kidding!)”? Being Awesome – in law and as a person is the best thing you can do to drive business.  SEO, Social Media and TV ads will never change that.

Now, its possible that over time, through your cute kitten post, you are able to connect with someone who happens to love Maine Coon kittens, who happens to live within 10 miles of your office, who happens to share mutual interests with you beyond kittens, who happens to take the time to build a relationship with you, who happens to have a legal need down that road, that happens to be in your area of practice, and who happens to choose to use Facebook instead of Google to start their search for a lawyer…. but I suspect your time and kittens are better spent on a different marketing channel. Put your kittens down…. and start working harder on being awesome.

 

 

How to Share AdWords Access with an Agency

Once you’ve entered into a partnership with a digital marketing agency, whether you’ve signed agreements or agreed to an audit, you’re going to need to provide access to your Google AdWords account. The process is relatively simple if you know what you’re doing, but it’s very easy to get lost.

Here’s how to grant AdWords access to agencies in 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Client Sends AdWords Customer ID

  1. Log in to your Google AdWords account
  2. Find your Customer ID and email it to your agency
  3. Stay logged in and wait for the agency to request approval

Step 2: Marketing Agency Requests Access

  1. Log in to the top level Manager Account for Google AdWords
  2. Under Accounts, click +Account and select “Link existing accounts”
  3. Enter the provided customer ID and click “Continue”
  4. Name the account (for internal use only) and click “Request approval”

Step 3: Client Approves Access

  1. Click the gear icon (top right) and select “Account Settings”
  2. Click “Account Access” on the left menu
  3. Click “Accept Request” and if you’d like provide full access, grant Admin permissions

And that’s it! You’ve successfully granted a marketing agency access to your AdWords account.

How Voice Search May Be Hurting Your Advertising

In the past six months, virtual assistants have become the newest must-have tech device.  Virtual assistants have been around for the past couple of years, but Amazon and Google have taken it to the next level. You can now ask a small speaker in your home to play music, write a to-do list, and search the internet for a restaurants’ phone number. I have yet to hop on the AI bandwagon, but my dad is still amazed that Alexa can play the Magnum P.I. theme song.

While these devices make life a little easier, they can also be hurting your advertising costs, and even inflating your leads. Since there’s no screen to view your search results, your assistant will choose what they believe the best answer is. If it’s the correct answer, then great! If not, you may end up calling a business you didn’t intend to.

I was recently looking through the search terms report in AdWords for a client, and stumbled upon a series of voice searches:

“Okay Google I need probate attorneys in the state of Kentucky USA not Oklahoma anywhere else”

“Okay Google maybe you don’t understand I’m trying to reach probate attorneys in Kentucky Kentucky”

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this was the same searcher looking for an attorney in Kentucky, not Oklahoma where my client practices. But because Google thought this query best matched our call-only ads, the helpful assistant placed a call to their office. Twice.

At least the second search was only half the price of the first…

So with the increased use of virtual assistants, your ad managers need to be vigilant in monitoring the types of searches you’re paying for, and what changes they can make to ensure you’re only paying for searches that are relevant to your business.

Get The Most From Your AdWords Search Terms: 2 [Simple] Tips

The number one reason I love Google AdWords (aside from us now being a Premier Partner) is that their advertising platform enables you to target potential clients who are actively searching for your service. Not only do they place your ad in front of users who are searching for your service, but you can actually see what they searched for before clicking your advertisement. This transparency gives you an immense amount of power. In this post I’ll describe how to use that search data to quickly and easily perform 2 key tasks:

  1. Identify negative keywords
  2. Content idea generation

How to Access Your Search Terms Data

Let’s take a step back. The first thing you need to do is navigate to your “Search Terms” tab in your Google AdWords dashboard. Follow these steps…

  1. Login to Google AdWords
  2. Navigate to the specific campaign you want to work on
  3. Select the “keywords” tab and then select “search terms” in the second menu so you see a screen similar to this:

AdWords Search Terms

Now that you can see how people are finding and clicking on your ads, you’re ready to use that data. Take a minute to scroll through your search terms; if it’s your first time, you may be surprised at what you find.

Identifying and Adding New Negative Keywords

Now that you’re looking at the list of search terms you’ve paid for – you’ll want to identify anything that is irrelevant or not likely to lead to conversions. It’s good to go through at least every few weeks (more frequently if you are running a large budget campaign) and make sure you are excluding terms you don’t want to pay for in the future.

Here are some real client examples from an immigration attorney…

  • is rihanna getting deported” (I don’t think this person is looking to hire a deportation defense attorney for Rihanna.)
  • immigration paralegal openings in clearwater utah” (Unfortunately the law firm isn’t located in Utah and not looking to hire new paralegals.)
  • how many immigrants has trump deported” (Albeit an interesting question… this client doesn’t have the answer, and more importantly, this person is not looking to hire an attorney.)

If you find terms like this that you want to exclude from triggering your ads, simply select the checkbox next to the search term and then scroll to the top navigation and click the “add as a negative keyword” button.

It’s important to mention that as a best practice, you should upload a list of negative keywords before ever launching your AdWords campaigns. This way you are proactively mitigating the irrelevant and unprofitable keywords. Here are some freebies we include on most of our campaigns (dependent on practice area of course):

  • Cheap
  • Pro bono
  • News
  • Job
  • School
  • Statistics

Using Search Terms Data for Content Idea Generation

The queries you find in your search terms data can be utilized as a tool for organic search strategy as well. This list of terms is often a goldmine for generating new content ideas. You can see what people are interested in and actively searching for and make sure you have content on your site that answers those questions. Once more, if you already have relevant content, you can use the search terms report to get insight into how you can optimize the content on page to match the searchers verbiage.

For example, here are more examples from the same immigration attorney…

  • can I get a green card by marrying a permanent resident?
  • which green card is safe from deportation?
  • what are the newest immigration laws?

All of these questions can and should be used as a springboard for new content. If you can become the trusted resource for information about your practice area than you are winning.

Wrapping Up

Make sure you are not neglecting the search terms report in Google AdWords. Not only will it help you cut costs and focus on the relevant queries that drive business, but it can also help support your content and overall SEO strategy.

A *strong* Case for Avvo Pro

Avvo has done really well with email marketing – and they are very good at using email to drive business to their advertisers.  And I just received a great email from Avvo that reinforces that point oh so very visually:

 

So – Heidi’s direct contact information shows up not only directly in Avvo’s search results pages, but also in their follow-up emails.  Would this tip the scales in favor of contacting Heidi over Stephen?  Not sure…. but if I was reading this on my phone, and speaking with an attorney was just a click away.  At $50, if you have reasonable volume of views on Avvo, that may be some $ well spent.

Full Disclosure here:  I still hold a bundle of early stage Avvo stock.