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.

How to Generate Personal Injury Cases for About $100.

Alternate Title:  PPC Isn’t Too Expensive – You’re Just Doing it All Wrong

I have a variation of this conversation with attorneys all the time:

I tried Adwords, but its just crazy expensive.

I spent $800 on our first day with Adwords, with no phone calls, so we turned it off.

Everyone is in Adwords, its just not worth it.

The general consensus among lawyers (many of whom have been burned either by an uninformed agency or their own missteps) is that Adwords is expensive and therefore ineffectual.  But…. the very system they are complaining about is based on a Pay per Click model – and we get to choose how much to pay.  So its not that its too expensive – its just that you aren’t doing it right.  Attorneys – always driven to be at the top – spend a lot of “stupid money” trying to “win” Adwords.  This is driven by the misperception that marketing is a cost not an investment.  If you learn to view your marketing as an investment, you’ll start asking questions like how much am I spending, and how much is that returning?  And when you do that, you’ll find that Adwords is a great investment when handled correctly.  Adwords too Expensive

Now, I’ve admittedly cherry-picked the following data from our best campaign from last week to demonstrate my point. This is an entire week, where we spent less than $250 for a small personal injury firm in a secondary market and generated 4 conversions.  (In his case – these were phone calls, not chats or form fills, but all three conversion channels should be counted in your assessment.) Not all of our clients look this amazing and this client’s investment doesn’t return this well every week. But the data below is demonstrative of a well run Adwords investment.  A few things to note a) this is NOT a ton of volume.  The phone’s aren’t ringing off the hook.  b)average position is high – meaning we are looking for clients outside the typical pool and c)CPCs are much lower than what it takes to “win” in a typical Personal Injury campaign.  Like any investment, the results are in the numbers:

  • 1 week
  • 4 calls
  • 2 clients
  •  $236.07 spent

Oh – and those four phone calls…. turned into two clients.  So, if you think Adwords is too expensive… you’re just not doing it right.

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 google.com, 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.

Google Rolls Out Huge Changes to Search Results

Expect your PPC campaigns (and therefore probably your SEO traffic) to go a little haywire this week.  Google has abruptly rolled out a very large change to the search engine results page (SERP) interface…. removing all ads (and apparently everything) from the right rail – see Siberia below.

Siberia

Here’s What We Know

  • The changes impact desktop searches only.
  • There are now four ads above natural search results and three below.
  • The changes only impact “commercial” queries – presumably most of the more transactional legal terms, but probably less so for queries researching a particular issue (see example below).
  • The change is permanent (for now).

BAC

What it Means (I think)

  • Clearly pushing more ads above natural search is going to shift traffic from organic to paid…. SEO players lose, PPC players gain (and so does Google.)
  • In the already overpriced legal PPC market, there’s even more competition for just 4 prime spots (remember, SERPs used to have up to 11 ads, including most legal queries) which is going to drive up already irrational (read: unprofitable) PPC bidding among lawyers.
  • (Smart) lawyers will look to diversify their paid marketing channels – driving up bids in Bing.  (For more on the economics of this see my 2013 post – Google Adwords Costs 150% More than Bing Ads.)
  • Local now becomes even more important for lawyers (and remember, it was just August when the number of local results constricted down to the three firm “snack pack”.

 

In summary, there are fewer ads total; however, they take up more of the prime real estate – which impacts both natural and paid results.

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 lemonlawexperts.com
lemonlawcars1-website-screenshot
PPC landing pages site at lemonlawcars1.com

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.

Introducing the Echo Legal Marketing Platform

Echo is our amazing new marketing platform. We take the tools that we use every day as an agency for our clients who are paying us $5,000-10,000 a month and we bring them into your law firm. We use video tutorials to provide step by step instructions on how to use them.

  • Analytics. How do we use Google Analytics? What do you need to keep an eye on and what metrics matter? How do we use tools like Moz Local and Yext to bolster our local performance?
  • Review Management. How do we make sure that when we’re reviewed on Yelp, Avvo or Findlaw that we get an email that day telling us about that review?
  • Call Tracking. How do we implement call tracking? What is call tracking and how does it work, and what can it tell you?
  • WordPress. We use WordPress websites to power our legal-centric and responsive designs hosting on the amazing WPEngine.
  • How do you use Google Webmaster Tools to track the real performance of your site at the keyword level, instead of relying on ranking reports?

All of this is wrapped around business reporting infrastructure with a final goal of helping you calculate exactly how your marketing investment is performing.

Marketing Tools: $300/month
Legal Centric WordPress site: $300/month
(or both for $500)Learn more at echo.mockingbird.marketing or sign up for our Webinar where we’ll tour all of this awesome functionality.

Is LawDingo Rolling Over Dead?

I’ve watched the legal lead generation site LawDingo with a level of interest over the past year or so… the company matches prospective clients with an attorney in real time via phone or chat.  This is obviously the direction the industry is moving – as people expect expertise on demand.  Avvo’s foray into Avvo Advisor – which promises “a great attorney on the phone in minutes” is the other big example.   I personally believe the future of legal involves technology bringing lawyers increasingly close to new clients who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford counsel.

But LawDingo was in a tough spot – watching them early on they relied intensively on PPC arbitrage – i.e. buying leads through Adwords/Bing and then selling access to those leads to attorneys via a monthly subscription.  This business model is extremely difficult to maintain – especially in legal, where lawyers implement irrational (read: unprofitable) bidding tactics in their irrational desire to “win” SEM.  And for LawDingo, as a lead generation service, the upside value of those PPC clicks is much lower than for an attorney who can gain a new client. The other option – SEO driven traffic is an extremely expensive undertaking.  So – from a pure economics perspective, I thought it might be tough for LawDingo to make a go of it.

Because of these economics, I’ve never had a client on LawDingo (i.e. why pay a vendor to pay a advertiser, when you can go directly to the advertiser), but I’ve been curious to see how this direct access to attorneys model performs.

But it looks like this month, LawDingo may have pulled the plug on PPC:

LawDingo

Now the data above is from Spyfu – and for smaller sites, I’ve found their data is rarely accurate, but directionally relevant. I called LawDingo and they said that yes they had dropped their ad spend (although they didn’t specify how much), but that they were still up and running.   But if the Spyfu data is even moderately accurate, I’m not sure what their advertisers are actually getting.  I’d love to chat with any subscribers to hear your experience in inquiry volume in July…

 

 

 

 

How To Set Up Pharmaceutical PPC for Law Firms

According to Adwords Policies, Google restricts the promotion of healthcare-related content such as prescription medication. This does not mean, however, that law firms cannot advertise to those who may have been injured by said prescription drugs. It is possible (and in compliance with AdWords Policies) to run informational ads involving pharmaceutical drugs – if you can figure out how.

The key lies in a Pharmaceutical Informational Certification. Here’s how to get one:

Step 1. Build your PPC Campaigns

Create your PPC campaign like you normally would. You’ll likely encounter your first hurdle if you mention a specific drug name in your ads. You will get the following alert when attempting to save your ad:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.06.57 AM

Press the + Details button, and you’ll get the following message:

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.07.09 AM

Assuming your ads are indeed not promoting pharmaceuticals, select the request a review box, and save your ad.

Step 2. Check Ad/Keyword Status

Once your ads have been approved, it may appear that your campaigns are ready to rumble. Your keywords will likely show an Eligible status, as shown below.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.04.20 AM

Your ads will show the following limited approval message – with the links taking you to Google’s Advertising Policies re: Healthcare and Medicines.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.18.10 AM

While that all seems swell, if you were to leave your campaign to run you’d find it wouldn’t get any clicks/impressions. To get the full picture, hover over the comment bubble in the status column of an individual ad or keyword. In all likelihood, you’ll get the red arrow of doom letting you know that, no, your ads are not running because:

Your ads relate to a restricted product or service. In order for your ads to start running, you’ll need to apply for specific approval.

You with your logical mind are probably assuming this notice will link to a page where you can apply for specific approval. While that would be nice, in reality you will be taken to Google’s support page for “Ads not showing: What can I do?”, suggesting you raise your quality score or raise your bid. Therefore, your next step is to…

Step 3. Contact AdWords Support

Reach out to an AdWords Support Specialist and ask for a Pharmaceutical Informational Certification. However, before you do, ensure your website meets the following criteria:

  • Physical address of your law firm is present on site
  • Pharmaceutical name is not in your domain name (Google will refer to this as your URL, but in our experience they really mean domain. For example, drugnamehere.com is not going to work, but joethelawyer.com/drugnamehere is fine)
  • Information about each individual lawyer (in the form of a biography)

Where’d we get the list? Directly from the Support Specialists we’ve been in contact with. Both have claimed this information is not available in the AdWords Help documentation because “there are too many business types to list them all out.” Interpret that as you will (and if anyone has been able to find documentation on this, let us know!).

Nonetheless, those appear to be the three things required. Once you’ve made sure your site is up to snuff, open up a chat with an AdWords Help specialist and ask for a Pharmaceutical Informational Certification for a law firm. They’ll verify your site meets the three qualifications above, and then, if all goes well, escalate your account to the policy team.

Step 4. Wait

At some point in the hopefully near future, you’ll receive and email from your AdWords Support Specialist letting you know the deal. It’ll look something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 10.00.43 AM

Yes, you read that correctly. Your account goes from your AdWords Support Specialist, is escalated to the Policy team, returned back to your AdWords Support Specialist, escalated to the Ads Approval Team, and returned back to your AdWords Support Specialist.

Once that dance is done, your AdWords Support Specialist will call you and let you know you’ve received your Pharmaceutical Informational Certification! In theory, all of this escalation and de-escalation will lead to the certification being applied to your domain within 24 hours of your initial inquiry.

Pat yourself on the back, crack open a beer, and bemoan the $60+ CPC’s you’ll soon get to endure.