How to Conduct a PPC Audit for Your Law Practice with Our ‘3 R’s’ Method
PPC audits help you to get the most out of your law firm’s paid search campaigns—but, to maximize that opportunity, you’ll need to create the most effective PPC auditing process possible. One of the reasons this may not have happened yet is that it’s easy to take a look at your pay per click dashboard and decide there are too many options to siphon through.
That’s normal. So, to simplify the process, it can help to keep a focus on three Rs: Reach, Relevance, and Response. By keeping your eye on these three steps, PPC audits can become much easier to navigate, which allows you to make better use of your budget and run much more effective campaigns.
Whether you run Google Ads or Bing Ads, proper maintenance is crucial to optimize your PPC campaigns—and your audit will let you see what maintenance needs done. You may decide to run audits twice a year, or four times. It mostly depends upon the complexity of your campaigns.
And here’s the bottom line. Whether you manage your own campaigns or you use an outside agency, there’s always room for improvement. So, it can help to have that attitude from the outset of your audit.Think about why you set up your campaigns how you did, as well as any changes in strategies and goals.
Plus, before you start:
- Think about why you set up your campaigns the way you did, and review any changes you’ve made in strategies and goals. Putting your current campaigns into context can help prevent misinterpretation of settings and metrics.
- To get enough meaningful data, set your date range to at least three months. If that isn’t enough, expand the date range further.
REACH: How ads get to their destination.
To get your ads in front of the right prospects for your law firm, you can use the following options to help control ad delivery:
- Ad Scheduling
- Ad Budget
- Ad position and bid prices
- Audiences & Lists
- Campaign types
RELEVANCE: How ads connect to the right audience.
Now that you’ve targeted the appropriate audiences for your legal services, you’ll need to provide them with the information they need. This could include, as just one example, advice on what to do if a loved one has suffered from neglect in a nursing home.
Think about what legal services people need, and then select the appropriate keywords for your messaging. Next, craft relevant ad messages and landing page text. Campaigns that are more relevant, targeting the heart of a prospect’s needs, are most likely to become more visible.
More relevant ads also have:
- lower click costs
- higher quality scores
- overall better results
Options to help manage your campaign relevancy include:
- Campaign structure
- Keyword choices & match types
- Negative keywords & lists
- Ad group segmentation
- Ad copy development
- Ad Type
- Landing pages
RESPONSE: How ads deliver ROI.
Relevant ads produce more leads, including more targeted leads. Now, you’ll want them turned into conversions. How you define a conversion can range from someone signing up for your email messaging or requesting a free legal consultation, but it all happens in the same overall way—by providing compelling, valuable information and strong calls-to-action.
Options to streamline this part of the prospect journey include:
- Landing pages
- Conversion types
- Conversion tracking
- Call tracking from ads
- Call tracking from pages
- Tracking messages & chats
- Conversions & Conversion rates
- Cost-per-conversion, return-on-ad-spend (ROAS)
Where your PPC audit should begin: date range and change history
As you audit your PPC campaigns, you can get a snapshot of performance by comparing data points. For example, you could compare activity in the current 30-day period to last month’s activity, or from last year.
As you review data, find answers to key questions. For example, what trends do you spot? Why is this happening? Do you have any targeting errors? If you’ve changed daily spend, when did this happen? What happened after spend changed?
Google has a feature that allows you to see what changes were made to your account, as well as who made them, what types they were, and when they were made. This feature can help you analyze performance.
To observe account activity, set the date range to the last 30 option and choose the change history link on the left side of the navigation bar. Here you can see exactly what’s been going on in your account. Take care not to click or undo any recent changes to the campaigns.
How to Determine the right network settings:
It’s important to separate search network campaigns from display ones. Here are some specifics about each.
- Search Network
- This allows you to choose the search engine where you want your text ads to appear.
- This allows you to choose the search engine where you want your text ads to appear.
- Display Network
- This huge platform provides the potential for your ads to appear in front of 90%-plus of internet users around the world. Ad can appear in dedicated advertising places on platforms of choice on websites, apps, and social media.
Ad spend for your law firm should be directed to where clicks are most likely to convert, so laser-targeting your PPC campaigns is crucial. In fact, by correctly targeting ad spend you could double conversion production. To make that happen, focus on preventing clicks from outside your areas of legal expertise, and geo-target where your offices are located, excluding where they aren’t.
Review your predefined reports screen (you may remember that this used to be called dimensions) and look for scheduling patterns. For example, certain days of the week may show the most conversions, and/or a certain time of day. To maximize your campaign performance, modify bid adjustment to take advantage of prime times.
You may be tempted to start with a smaller budget and see how all goes. But, underfunding a campaign can have a negative impact, with:
- low impression share
- low clicks
- low conversions
So, instead, use your keyword planner to see how often ads will appear at a particular budget point and how many clicks are likely at that budget. Then, determine where your sweet spot exists.
To further maximize the use of your dollars:
- Reduce the target area.
- Exclude specific areas that consume but never convert.
- Pause keywords and match types that never convert.
- Build strong negative keyword lists.
- Lower bid prices.
- Make additional scheduling adjustments and delivery options to further fine-tune and stretch your budget and show your ads more often.
If you have a bigger budget, you may get even more benefits from your campaigns through segmentation or day-parting, especially if your campaign is:
- heavily segmented
- shared budget
Ad position and bid strategy:
Experiment with different approaches, based upon what you see in your click-through and conversion rate data. How can you maximize returns? You might, for example, save money while improving metrics by lowering big price. Once you determine what’s best, optimize rules or scripting usage to hold sweet-spot bids and positions.
At DAGMAR, we use a combo of manual processes and automation to control variables, while avoiding excessive and untimely keyword bid increases that full-on automation can bring.
Device bid adjustments:
Review conversions by device, and you may discover that your law firm has more success on mobile devices—or tablets. Or desktop. Use this knowledge to create device-specific campaigns, to exclude a device, and more, and then adjust landing pages, based upon what you’ve learned to optimize conversion opportunities.
Underfunded-campaigns can be counterproductive, with:
- ads that show less often
- slower data collection
- slower ad optimization process
Meanwhile, adequately-funded campaigns can allow you to:
- collect critical data more quickly
- make corrections
- improve metrics, including:
- quality score
- click-through-rate (CTR)
- conversion rate
Information found in your keyword planner can help you to estimate impression share that you can control so you can appropriately adjust target areas.
Audiences, Lists and RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads):
Review your audience lists, which are based upon traffic going to website pages and paid search landing pages. Take those lists and segment them further into organic visitors and paid ones, and then use them strategically in remarketing campaigns, offering your legal services to the most appropriate audiences. RLSAs can help you to improve relevance, as well as click-through and conversion rates.
When you use automation effectively in your PPC campaigns, you can benefit from lower click costs, improved production, and more. Automation scripts allow you to manage bid costs by the hour and, when you write your own scripts, you can better manage your campaigns and maximize ad exposure.
In your law firm’s service area, what languages are spoken? If nearly everyone speaks English as a primary language, then select this language for your PPC campaigns. But, if you have offices in areas where people are bilingual, it makes sense to experiment with adding relevant languages and monitoring campaign success.
To create relevant ad groups, you need to strategically select keywords, segmenting them to describe the legal services you offer. Then focus your resources on ad groups that meet targeted cost-per-lead goals.
Use these keywords in ad copy and landing pages to:
- benefit from:
- improved quality scores
- improved ad rank
- create a better:
- user experience
- prospect journey
- streamline the process
- boost conversions
- boost sales
Keyword counts and grouping:
In general, there shouldn’t be more than 20 keywords in any one ad group, and ads within a group should relate well together. In some cases, you may have more than 20—and, if they connect well together, then this may work. If they aren’t closely related, create a new ad group.
Benefits can be significant when you strategically segment your keywords so that ad messages and groups align well with the search queries being made by people who need your legal services. The ultimate result will likely be better quality scores, along with lower click costs, and improved click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rates.
Branded keywords and campaigns:
To further benefit from high visibility and increased traffic, collaborate with the team that creates your law firm SEO marketing organic campaigns to craft your branded campaigns. Also experiment with device-specific campaigns and make sure you’ve developed a strong negative keyword list.
Campaign segmentation and focus:
It isn’t unusual for companies to have several PPC campaigns. If that’s true for your law firm, then your campaigns may have different structures, geo-specific targeting, and focus—and what’s important is to ensure that each campaign’s structure dovetails with its goals. As part of your PPC audit, check to see if any campaigns should have hyper-relevant, niche conversion goals.
Ads per ad group:
According to Google, the answer is four, but you’ll probably want to experiment with ad rotations within a group to see what’s right for your law firm. As you experiment, test rates of success, such as conversion rates. Skipping over this stage can lead to high costs of conversions and a lower conversion rate.
As you audit your law firm’s PPC campaigns, consider additional features offered by Google—ones that, when used well, can boost your ad footprint. Harness extension usage deliberately, avoiding messaging that’s confusing or repetitive.
You’ll need two or more to show up for desktop (there can be up to six), and one on mobile. These links provide more opportunities for clicks, but be sure they’re relevant to the ads, ad group and overall campaign.
Connect your Google Ads account to the matching Google My Business listing and show location information to people within the area. This may cause these ads to show in Google Maps, generating additional clicks and conversions. These rules also apply to Bing Ads.
Call out extensions:
Take advantage of the opportunity to add valuable info within your PPC ad. You could, as just one example, share that you’ve provided legal services in your community for 20 years.
Structured snippet extensions:
You can highlight unique features and offers and add more info in your ad space through structured snippet extensions. This used to be an automated option, but you can now have more control over this extension.
You can boost engagement through quick, one-click conversions by running ads with call extensions. Be sure to only run these adds during regular business hours when the call can be promptly answered.
TACTICS AND INSIGHTS
In your PPC campaigns, you’ve had prospects who clicked on your law firm’s ad but didn’t convert. Through remarketing, you can craft special offers for this targeted audience by using the audience lists that you created at the start of your campaign. Through your search and display networks, you can reach these prospects again and, ideally, convert them into clients.
Targeting inclusion and exclusion
When reviewing conversions, there will be areas where budget is being consumed, but prospects aren’t converting. So, analyze how each area is contributing to your CPA and ROI. What areas can be excluded? How can you geo-target campaigns to boost their performance?
By effectively managing this type of activity, you could double your conversion rate while also cutting your CPA in half.
When you originally conducted keyword research, you almost certainly overlooked some terms. So, as part of your law firm’s PPC audit, review your search terms report for these. Which ones would dovetail with existing ad groups?
You may also find keywords in your report that don’t fit in well with the services you offer. So, should they be used as negative keywords to block unwanted clicks?
You might discover that exact and phrase match types are the most cost effective, and align best with your goals and budget. Plus, they’re typically easier to control. Having said that, if you ignore broad and modified broad terms, you very well might miss out on traffic and conversion opportunities.
Note: If you choose to use broad terms, also use strong negative keywords to control wasteful ad spend.
Negative keyword lists:
First, if you aren’t using negative keywords, start. That’s crucial.
Next, there are two ways to address negative keywords. You can apply them individually at the level of an ad group. In that case, select a campaign for your law firm’s PPC audit and then choose keywords and negative keywords from the navigation. Or, you can apply them as lists shared across multiple campaigns. With that method, pick the tools icon and then the negative keywords list link. Are you happy with what you see? If not, what changes should you make?
KEY METRICS TO REVIEW
Reviewing this metric will allow you to see how successfully you’re aligning keywords with ad messaging for your law firm. You’ll see how relevant your campaigns are and, if unhappy with relevancy, you can check the quality of that alignment as part of your PPC audit.
The ideal number is six or more. If that’s not the case, then review your keyword set. What similar ones can you find to create a new ad group?
Low search volume:
Check keyword statuses in your status column. If some show low search volume, then it’s time to experiment. What happens if you pause them? Remove them? The reason why you’ll want to test these low search volume keywords is that they may be getting some impressions and clicks, so you’ll want to see the impact on your ad performance and rank if they’re paused or removed.
Alignment of goals:
How would you articulate your campaign goals? If you have any problem doing so, then stop to determine what, exactly, you want to happen with each campaign. This is necessary to successfully assess performance and to make the best targeted improvements.
All conversions must be tracked so your law firm can accurately determine cost-per-lead or acquisition. If the PPC team and lawyer SEO team at the firm share goals, then they should work together as they’re attributed in Google Analytics or Google Ads.
As part of this audit, also ensure that each and every landing page has the right conversion devices. How, for example, should people contact your law firm? This probably means you need to include a contact form and relevant phone numbers.
Also review conversion goals in Google Ads and Google Analytics as part of your PPC audit. What ones did you import into ads? Are you accidentally doubling up on any conversion numbers?
Here, you can see if a conversion pixel is current, inactive, or unverified. Note that these are mostly used for organizational and reporting purposes.
As you track conversions, check to see which conversion is a unique visitor, and note when one person is completing a conversion more than once.
This window should be set to dovetail with what you are considering your sales cycle length, whether that’s listed in days or months. Although your law firm wouldn’t have a “sales cycle” in the same way that other businesses might, this is needed to have a framework under which a conversion can be attributed to a first click via PPC.
Yes, this is the gold standard.
What ultimately matters with your PPC campaigns is your return on investment/return on ad spend. Are you satisfied with yours? If so, great! Then you can think about a new, more ambitious goal. If you aren’t happy yet, how can you boost your ROI? What experimentation should you do?
As another consideration, should you instead spend your marketing dollars on channels that bring you a better return?
Determine your typical number of conversions and also figure out which channels are most successful for your law firm. If you aren’t satisfied with how much your numbers are going up, you can try A/B testing, landing page testing, or using special offers.
What is the value of a single lead? Is your campaign offering up a quality cost-per-conversion performance?
Creating your game plan
At this point, you probably have a decent-sized list of items gleaned from your PPC audit. Now, it’s time to prioritize them, first addressing those that are associated with the most wasteful spending and contribute to high costs per lead.
Next, focus on items that will help you to streamline your PPC campaign. At this point, has the auditing process boosted the profitability of your PPC channel? If not, then you may need to address more complex issues, which will involve creating and executing a methodical plan. In some cases, you might even need a complete campaign overhaul.
We’re here to help with your Legal PPC Campaigns!
Paid search has the potential to efficiently deliver leads that can be real game changers—and regular, thorough audits are key. These audits can be time consuming and, if you’re not well versed in the new interface, they can also be time wasting.
The good news is that DAGMAR can do all of the heavy lifting for you and it won’t cost you a dime for us to get in there and have a look around. Just send us a quick message or give us a call at (904) 270-9778.