Google AdWords is arguably the most powerful advertising platform available on the Internet today. Nearly every business uses AdWords in some way, or at the very least, has experimented with it at some point. Potential reach is virtually unlimited and costs can be low compared to rewards.
The biggest problem most law firms will run into with Google AdWords is simply making sure they’ve got the long list of configuration options set up correctly. The configurability of AdWords makes it extremely powerful, but also makes it easy to forget a step somewhere in the middle and cause problems when either setting up new campaigns or trying to optimize current ones.
Following are two checklists — one for setting up new campaigns and one for optimizing existing campaigns — to help you make sure that you get it right every single time.
AdWords Campaign Setup Checklist
✅ Remove duplicates – Make sure that your keywords are unique so that you don’t end up competing with yourself.
✅ Review match types – Decide which match types you’ll be using for this campaign.
✅ Add negatives – Use negative keywords to avoid irrelevant traffic. Search for some of your keywords and skim through results to get an idea of good negatives to add.
✅ Check landing pages – Make sure all ads send visitors to the correct landing page and that the page works as intended.
✅ Check spelling – Download your ads and look at them in Excel or Word (or an equivalent editor) and make sure spelling is correct. Misspellings can have very bad effects on click through rates (CTR).
✅ Put keywords in your copy – When your ads appear, it’s because someone is searching for one of your keywords. If those keywords appear in your ad copy, it will increase your CTR.
✅ Set page paths – Page paths are the URL that shows up after your domain in the ad. They are a great place to include a keyword and give the user more information about what they will find. For example: http://www.example.com/free-criminal-consultation conveys much more information than just http://www.example.com.
✅ Define your CPC bids – Make sure you don’t bid too high on cost per click. You can use Google’s keyword planner to get an idea of the range you should be aiming for.
✅ Enable extensions – Ad extensions are optional, but using them can make a big difference in CTR. The Sitelinks, Review, and Call extensions can be especially useful for law firms.
✅ Put similar keywords into groups – Organizing similar keywords into groups helps you keep things organized and streamline your targeting. Google gives several examples of creating groups to make things easier to organize and manage.
✅ Name groups according to keywords – Avoid naming groups with generic terms like “Group 1” or “Group B”. Reporting and organizing will be much easier if you can tell what’s in each group by looking at the name.
✅ Restrict groups to about 20 keywords – Most advertisers will use one message for each ad group. The smaller your groups are, the more closely your keywords and messages will match up.
✅ Set your budget – Make sure you know how much you have to spend each day and set your budget correctly. It’s worth your time to double check your math. Things can get out of control quickly if this setting is off.
✅ Set location targeting – Make sure you’re showing your ad in relevant areas. You don’t want your ad being displayed to people all across the country if your practice only serves local clients.
✅ Set language targeting – Don’t assume that everyone in the U.S. is browsing in English, or any other language for that matter. Be sure to set language targeting so that users are taken to a landing page in the language they are using to browse.
✅ Set ad rotation – You can choose to set your own rotation preference or let Google do it based on clicks and performance. Unless you’re testing something or have a specific reason to alter rotation, it’s probably best to let Google handle it.
✅ Choose your delivery method – “Standard” will try to spread things out so that your daily budget is spent more or less evenly all throughout the day. “Accelerated” will give your campaign a speed boost and run through your budget much faster.
✅ Set “Search Network Only” – Google will set your campaigns to search with display by default. Display ads show up on other websites, where search ads only show up Google’s own search result pages. Including display ads can cost you a lot more money and likely won’t perform as well unless you’re creating ads specifically for the display network.
✅ Set ad scheduling – Depending on what you’re advertising, you might want to schedule ads so they only show while your office is open and someone can be reached on the phone or live chat, etc.
✅ Exclude your IP address(es) – You should exclude the IP address or addresses of Internet connections that originate from within your offices to avoid skewing your tracking results. If you need to check to see where or how your ads are showing up, use Google’s ad preview tool.
✅ Set Target Devices – It’s not always applicable, but don’t forget to set your target devices if you’re running a campaign specifically designed for a certain device.
✅ Set Up Conversion Tracking – Without conversion tracking, it’s practically impossible to determine how your ads are doing. Google has plenty of information on how to set up conversion tracking for different types of goals.
AdWords Optimization Checklist
✅ Prune underperforming keywords – Run a search terms report from the Keywords tab of your account to get started. You should consider removing, or at least pausing, any keywords that are not showing solid performance numbers. You may also be able to improve some of the lower performing items by adding negative keywords. This will concentrate your ad spend on your best performing terms.
✅ Check for new keywords and phrases – Again, run a search terms report and look for keywords or phrases that show good performance but aren’t part of your campaign. Adding a few of these could improve overall CTR.
✅ Consolidate campaigns by performance – Move top performing keywords into their own campaign. For these, focus on tweaking landing pages and ad copy to get the very best performance you can. At the same time, move lower performing keywords into another campaign so you can determine if their performance can be improved or if they should be dropped. You’ll be able to concentrate your ad spend on top performers and gather data on low performers for a minimal investment.
✅ Split testing – Even when you find an ad that does well, you should always be testing at least one other. The more split testing you do, the better you will become at creating ads that produce outstanding results.
✅ Extensions – Take advantage of extensions to boost both your ad’s quality score and CTR. Depending on the type of ad you’re running, the right extension can make a dramatic difference in clicks.
✅ Text factors – Make sure that things like the headline, description and URL are as clear and descriptive as they can be. You might not need to change anything if an ad is doing well, but it’s always worth stopping and thinking for a moment if an improvement could be made.
✅ Review dedicated landing pages – Especially if ads are getting clicks, but sales are slow, landing pages should be reviewed to make sure they are 100% error free and align with the text that appears in the ad which leads to them. If users sense they’ve been taken to the wrong page, they will click back and go somewhere else.
✅ Review call to action – Sometimes the difference between success and failure is simply telling a prospect what you want them to do. You should review and test calls to action regularly. Make sure there is a clear path that lets a prospect know exactly what they need to do to reach the goal.