Questions your AdWords Agency Doesn’t Want you To Ask

Over the years, I’ve written a variety of posts to help law firms separate the SEO wheat from the chaff here here and here. It seems the same level of either gross ineptitude or deliberate opportunism has firmly planted itself in the AdWords world as well.  So I bring you, four very uncomfortable questions you should ask your current or prospective AdWords agency.

  1. Access – Do you have access to your AdWords account?  We provide our clients with Admin level access to their AdWords accounts.  If you don’t even have read access to your account, what is your agency hiding? My perspective is that it is YOUR account, we get to work on it, not the other way around.  Without access, this means that if clients leave their agency – they have to start all over again – this is a great model for the agency, but horrendous for the law firm.
  2. Reporting – Does your AdWords accurately track all types of conversions through sophisticated reporting infrastructure to get granular on conversions – phone, form, chat and even text messaging.  This means you can dial in to the actual keyword, or ad within an A/B test to tell you what’s working.
  3. Payment Transparency – we are crystal clear with what % of our spend goes to Google and what goes to us…. Ask you agency the same question and see just how straightforward they are with your dollars.
  4. Exclusivity – I don’t believe we can effectively (or ethically) advertise on the same Channel (AdWords) for two different clients in the same market at the same time.

And note, I’m not getting all high and mighty suggesting you should only hire a Google Premier Partner.  There are a (sprinkling) of solid AdWords agency’s not in Google’s program, BUT they are few and far between.

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.

 

Immigration Attorneys: We Want You!

So…. Since starting Mockingbird, we’ve never proactively sought business.  For the most part it has come to us.  BUT…. I’m now proactively looking for more immigration attorneys to add to our client list.  Over the past two years, we have locked down online marketing for a handful of immigration attorneys.  And at the risk of making this sound like I’m selling a set of steak knives or a used Ford Taurus – its an easy, repeatable, fool-proof system that has delivered stupendous results.

I’m writing this this morning after coming out of a conversation with one of our immigration clients that sounded something like this:

“Please turn down the efforts – we’re turning away business – I don’t even bother to reply to half of the voicemails.”

Here’s the inbound traffic growth this client has experienced since we took over his account (from a big box Legal Marketing “Expert”) – he’s now driving 9 times the traffic than prior to our engagement:

Here’s another situation – where we’re driving close to 10 calls per day to a small immigration firm.

Why Immigration? The answer is twofold threefold:

  1. We’ve spent a large amount of time (and money) learning what works and what doesn’t in Immigration.
  2. Much of our effort and experience and learnings are generated from the hypercompetitive markets of Personal Injury, Mass Torts and Criminal Defense.  Simply applying the best practices from those aggressive and overcrowded markets to the less competitive and frequently more distributed immigration market is all it takes to make a huge impact.
  3. (And yes, some of this is undeniably due to the xenophobic politics of the day.)

 

 

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.

Picking a Winning Title Tag: No Easy Way Out

As we know, title tags are a key element of on-page SEO (Ahrefs has a comprehensive analysis of just how important they are). And as Ahrefs determined, the use of exact match keywords in title tags has the second strongest correlation to higher rankings, right after the domain name:

So, What Should My Title Tags be?

To answer this question, some SEOs end up relying on PPC ads to see test keywords. They do this by plugging a potential title tag into a PPC ad, and based on the success (or failure) of that ad, decide whether or not to apply their trial title tag to a page on their site.

According to a recent study done by the Wayfair SEO team, this tactic is dangerous.

In this test, paid ads did not consistently predict winning organic titles:

“In our testing, paid ads did not consistently identify winning organic title tags. While trying to improve your title tags is definitely a very smart SEO play, relying on PPC might end up steering you wrong. PPC was able to identify some winners, but also mislabeled losers as winners, particularly when it came to promotional language.”

The Wayfair SEO team believes the reasoning for this to be that the success of a paid ad is different in nature to the success of an organic page in a key way: those clicking on PPC ads are not a random sample of people, they are the type of searchers who click on ads. These people tend to respond positively (by clicking) to promotional language (“sale”, “50% off”, “free shipping”). When the rest of us (those that don’t click on ads) see the words “50% off” in an organic search result, we think we’re being scammed, and keep scrolling.

Takeaway

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to find optimal title tags, it looks like you have to keep looking beyond the success of PPC ads. Unfortunately, finding the perfect title tags may take a lot of time and data.

5 AdWords Tips You Need Before 2017

AdWords is an extremely powerful marketing tool but can be confusing to even the most knowledgeable advertising experts. There seem to be endless settings, strategies and opinions on how best to set up, run, and manage campaigns. While we happily admit that we are constantly learning, we’ve found a few tricks that have undeniably helped a majority (if not all) our clients’ accounts.

Enable Ad Extensions

The easiest and arguably most effective upgrade to any campaign is to enable Ad Extensions. These little add-ons are a great way to claim more SERP space and generate more clicks. Right below your original text and link, you can extend your ad with valuable information for users to interact with. Our favorite Ad Extensions are:

  • Call Extensions – Users can click to call your law firm
  • Message Extensions – Users can click to text your law firm
  • Location Extensions – Users can click to get directions to your law firm, and this extension makes your ad eligible to be included directly in Google Maps.
  • Callout Extensions – Draws attention to your most valuable features (Free Consults, Open 24/7, etc.)
  • Sitelinks Extensions – Adds more links to your ad, allowing users to navigate to content they care about

Use Accelerated Delivery

AdWords’ description of Standard Delivery is a bit misleading: “Optimize delivery of ads, spending budget evenly over time (Recommended).” That small sentence is stuffed with a lot of nice sounding buzzwords. Optimize, spend evenly, recommended… However, a new client in the morning is just as valuable as a new client in the afternoon. Law firms are not restaurants. You do not need to save your advertising budget for the dinner rush. Use Accelerated Delivery to show as often as possible. If you want to make sure your ads show in the afternoon, don’t hold your budget back; increase your budget and get more clients!

Match Ad Schedules to Business Hours

While a click in the morning is just as valuable as a click in the afternoon, a click at night might not follow the same pattern. If you don’t have people answering the phone at night or on weekends, your conversion rates are going to be negatively affected. Clients are much more likely to move on to the next firm if they are greeted with an answering machine. Unless you are prepared to handle leads after hours, restrict your ad schedule to when you are actually able to answer the phone.

Upgrade to Expanded Text Ads

A few months ago, Google launched their new Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) which were a huge improvement over their old standard format. The new ETAs now include:

  • Two headline fields (up to 30 characters each)
  • A single, expanded description field (up to 80 characters)
  • A display URL that uses your final URL’s domain
  • Two optional “Path” fields, used in the ad’s display URL (up to 15 characters each)

Not only are these new ads much more effective, starting January 31, 2017, AdWords will no longer allow advertisers to create or edit standard text ads. If you haven’t upgraded already, now is the time.

Apply Bid Modifiers

Utilizing bid modifiers is a great way to gain a competitive advantage over other law firms. If you’re targeting a large area (50+ miles, multiple counties, statewide, etc.), a positive bid adjustment focused on a more precise 5 mile radius can be a beneficial. Additionally, people searching on mobile devices are usually more likely to place a phone call and convert into a client. A positive bid adjustment here will help make sure your ads get are delivered when these high value searches take place.

How To Implement

Most of these tips and tricks can be applied at the campaign level of your AdWords account. When in doubt, this is a great place to start when making high level changes. However, there may be times when diving into each Ad Group is a better decision (as with sitelinks). Make sure to stop and think about how each change will affect your AdWords campaigns before implementing.

Whether you’re optimizing old campaigns or starting fresh, these 5 AdWords Tips should help you get 2017 started on the right foot.

Happy Advertising!

Legal Connect with Google Workshop – Two October Events

We’re happy to announce not one, but two Legal Connect with Google events for October.

This is a free, day-long, hands-on Workshop specifically designed to assist lawyers in evaluating their online marketing effectiveness.  Classes are focused on local, natural and paid search and are taught by Google employees and Mockingbird founder, Conrad Saam.

So if you wanted to attend the pilot event this week at Google HQ in Mountainview, but were unable to, there’s now a second and third chance.

Victoria Fabiano, Google Strategic Partner Manager
Victoria Fabiano, Google Strategic Partner Manager

Dates and Venues

October 7 and 8 in New Orleans.   Details and Sign Up

October 17th in Google’s New York City Office.  Details and Sign Up

Workshop Description

During this intensive Workshop, experts from Google and Mockingbird guide attendees through a 12 page worksheet to evaluate the efficacy of their current online marketing efforts, with an eye towards identifying specific weaknesses or missed tactics. This is NOT a conference with talking heads delivering thinly veiled sales pitches from sponsored powerpoints, but instead a hands-on, interactive education, empowering attendees with actionable tools & tactics.

This is a HANDS ON workshop, you will need a laptop and access to your Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and AdWords accounts, as well as your firm’s website CMS.

Elizabeth Olinger, Google Account Manager
Elizabeth Olinger, Google Account Manager

The Agenda

  • 8:30am-9:00am | Registration & Continental Breakfast
  • 9:00am-9:15am | Kick off & Welcome
  • 9:15am-10:00am | The Online Legal Marketplace
  • 10:00am-11:00am | Google Analytics & Business Metrics
  • 11:00am-11:15am | Break
  • 11:15am-12:15pm | Search – Organic
  • 12:15pm-1:15pm | Networking Lunch
  • 1:15pm-2:15pm | Search Local + Advanced Linkbuilding
  • 2:15pm-3:15pm | Search Paid