Attorney Advertising: Yeah, I Found Your $100-Per-Click Ads WAY Outside Your Jurisdiction. Do You LIKE Wasting Money? Is That Even Legal?

WARNING:  In this post, I call out several Las Vegas PI attorneys for wasting money, and potentially advertising themselves as available in other jurisdictions.  If you’re a PI attorney in Vegas, check if you’re on the list. If you’re outside Vegas, but running ads on Adwords, be sure to read how to check your own ads.

Adwords is probably the biggest Love/Hate relationship personal injury attorneys have in their marketing efforts. Love, because if it’s set up right it can get results right away.  Hate because, for PI attorneys, Adwords can cost over 100 dollars per click.  That means, of course, that there’s a budgetary barrier to entry that keeps many of the small-timers who often need it most, and even the big guys can waste thousands of dollars on poorly made ad campaigns.

I’ve run ad campaigns for huge, multi-state PI firms, as well as the little guy who just wants to carve out a niche in a suburb. For everybody, prices are insane, and there’s no silver bullet to getting only calls from severely injured people who were rear-ended by a truck. However there are a few things that can ALWAYS help maximize your budget, and minimize waste.

In this post I will call out some fundamental errors on a few ads run by law firms in Las Vegas, where I am located.  I would gladly call out their adwords companies if I knew them, but I don’t really have any way of knowing who set up their campaigns for them. Make no mistake, any one of these mistakes will cost you hundreds of dollars a month.

Here are some problems I discovered in just a few minutes of browsing ads for personal injury lawyers while at my desk in Las Vegas.

Problem 1: Ad Campaign Set Up By Somebody Who Doesn’t Understand How Jurisdictions Work.

Does this look right? Harris & Harris, are you wanting to advertise as a “Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney?” How about you, Cogburn? Hello?

The first sign that somebody just “phoned it in” while setting up an Adwords campaign is poor targeting.  This is the most common mistake I see in attorney Adwords campaigns. Basically, whoever set up the campaign did the basic stuff, probably set the daily budget, set up some ads (even some nice ads like the HHtriallawyers.com example above), but really didn’t bother tightening up the campaign to ONLY show the ads to the people the firm are targeting.

This happens when you work with an Adwords team or individual who just doesn’t think of advertising in the way an attorney would. You can’t just tell google to show your  ad everywhere in your market – like Las Vegas – and assume it’s going to always get it right.

In my experience, PI firms with this kind of flaw are losing at least 200 – 300 dollars per week with poorly targeted clicks. 

When you consider a good Adwords management service (like ours) only costs about 250 / month… it’s worth more than it will cost you to use a good team rather than try and set it up yourself or use somebody who doesn’t know how law firms work.

Law Firms In Vegas Who Showed Up in “Personal Injury Attorney Kentucky” Searches Made From Las Vegas on 1/28/18:

Gazda & Tadayon

Brent Carson

Adam Kutner

Nettles Law

Harris & Harris Injury Lawyers

Cowgirl Law

Kelleher and Kelleher

Glen Lerner

Mountain West Lawyers

Mossberg Injury law

Hanratty Law Group

Steven Karen

Les Stovall

Neil Shouse

You’re most likely not actually from Las Vegas, so you probably don’t realize that this list includes most of the “big guys” who are running all the TV and radio ads, or who dominate in search engine results. This is a problem that affects even the biggest of law firms when their PPC team isn’t taking the time needed for an attorney campaign.

Is showing up in searches for other jurisdictions against bar rules?

Ah, good ol’ rule 7.2.  From a basic reading of the rules, there’s nothing to say you can’t advertise your services outside your state(s).  You’re not doing anything wrong as long as you A.) Don’t seem to advertise as somebody else.  B.) Don’t actually take clients outside your state.  The real problem is you’re just wasting your money.

How much money?  It can be hundreds of dollars a week, depending on the size of your market and your budget.

How to check if your ads have this problem.

It’s easy.  Just search for your service and the name of a state or city you DON’T want to advertise for.  “bankruptcy attorney canada” or “real estate lawyer South Dakota.”  Do the search a few times. Did your ad show up? You have a problem.


Problem 2: Just One Ad Group

Even worse than these ads showing for the wrong keywords is the fact that some of them are showing the wrong service.  In my quick and dirty “personal injury lawyer kentucky” search, I also saw ads occasionally talking about the completely wrong practice area.  Here’s a great example:

Hurt in a car wreck? Get a divorce.

This happens when the person setting up the Adwords campaign doesn’t realize that you have to have separate ad groups for you different practice areas.  Ideally, you’ll have entirely separate campaigns with different budgets, keywords, etc.  After all, you don’t want your divorce ad cannibalizing your truck accident ad, do you?

Get it together, Las Vegas.

Problem 3: Timing and Budget Issues Leading To Bad Clicks.

For the little guy, getting GOOD clicks is essential, since every click costs money. Across the USA, it costs an average of $1600 in Adwords spend to get 1 new PI client. Some cities are more, some are less.  But you can vastly improve your odds by careful budgeting and watching the position of your ads.  The problem is, if your ads are only ever showing up in position 6, or on page 2, the only clicks you’re getting are from bots.  No human ever bothers to click the ads at the bottom of the page, much less page 2.

Too many PI ads are only showing up in bad positions.  That means wasted money on bad clicks.

I’m also seeing some attorneys run out of budget before the month is even over, so their ads just disappear for a few days.  Can you really afford to be out of the market for days at a time?

PROTIP:  This, of course, represents an opportunity for the little guys. If you notice the big firms running out of money every month around the 26th of the month, why not save some of your own cash and run your ads at a lower rate during the last week? Or really go after that top spot while the big guys are waiting for their budget to refresh? Your competitors mistakes may be your opportunity!

Problem 4: Bad Landing Pages.

While most of the Las Vegas attorneys I saw had really great landing pages, one or two were just unmitigated disasters.  WHY SPEND THE MONEY ON ADS IF THE CUSTOMER JUST GETS SCARED AWAY BY YOUR WEBSITE?  Building a good landing page is literally STEP 1 of online advertising.  Don’t just send them to your home page.  Don’t use a do-it-yourself website builder.  Get something nice that shows you know your stuff.

Obviously, if you need help, I would love to give you a hand.  If you’re doing it yourself, well… at least put your phone number in a spot that’s easy to find, ok?

How do you prevent this from happening?

Step 1: make sure you’re getting the following data & reports from your adwords company:

  1. Search Terms (tells you if people are wasting your money by searching for “Des Moines Bankruptcy Attorney” when you’re actually a “Salt Lake City Personal Injury Attorney.”) Is your PPC company only showing you how many clicks you got and fancy graphs, but no list of actual keywords people used to find you?  That’s a big red flag.
  2. Average Position of your Ads (tells you if your ad is showing up where people actually click it)
  3. Conversion report or Call Tracking (tells you if people are picking up the phone or just clicking away from your site)

Step 2: Make sure your adwords company actually lets you see their work. 

I’m talking about getting into the ad campaign itself.  If your PPC company doesn’t let you see the ads, dig through the data, and otherwise mess with your campaign, chances are they are hiding their cut-rate performance by keeping you out.

Step 3: Talk with your adwords management team about places you DON’T want to show up.

This is just as important as talking with them about where you DO want to show up.

You can get as granular as you want.  For an estate planning campaign, maybe you want to talk about specific zip codes you want to appear in and not appear in. Be specific and help your adwords team get you as targeted as possible.

Step 4: Insist on a custom landing page and tracking number for Every. Single. Ad Group.

Step 5. Use a trusted PPC manager… like, oh… Raptor Digital Marketing. 🙂



NOTE:  I did not click on anybody’s ad.  I would hate to waste their money.  I also called or emailed EVERY law firm listed above and let them know the problem.

Greg Hamblin is an online marketing professional specializing in attorney marketing.  He has won numerous awards for his web design work, including his creations being featured 4 times by the Lawyerist.com’s “Best Attorney Website” annual competition. He has managed millions of dollars in Adwords budgets, and managed the online marketing for law firms across the United States.