Pay-per-click marketing (PPC) is becoming an increasingly important way for attorneys to connect with potential clients. From time to time, certain events will cause an unexpected surge in the demand for specific legal services. When these events occur, it is important for attorneys to have an increased online presence so they can be discovered by those seeking their services. PPC advertising is an ideal method of delivering this increased exposure. Many different things can spark a demand for legal assistance, so it pays to be nimble in these moments. Some examples:

  • Preventable disasters injure, kill, or cause property damage
    • Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Toyota Vehicle Recall Litigation
  • Pharmaceutical Drugs are found to be dangerous
    • Vioxx, Yasmin, Avandia, Accutane
  • Medical devices are found to be defective or dangerous
    • Hip & knee replacement recalls, Endoscopic superbug infections, Power Morcellators lawsuits

Search engines become a powerful conductor bringing together victims and attorneys. As marketers who have helped attorneys increase their presence online, we have observed a pattern in the development of PPC campaigns. Understanding these patterns helps us to stay ahead of the competition and create a winning PPC strategy for our clients.

Progression of a Dangerous Drug PPC Campaign

Keywords pertaining to the legal industry are well known to be among the most expensive in the PPC landscape. This is because the return on a successfully converted click can be very high. We have seen legal keywords cost more than $350.00 per click, but if that click becomes a client in a major lawsuit, it’s worth every penny. Let’s take a look at 4 months in the life cycle of a dangerous drug PPC campaign and see how these keywords can become so expensive. In the graph below, monthly budgets were held constant. Bids were changed over time in order to maintain an average position within the top three ad spots.


Search volume for the keywords in this campaign began low. Major ‘push’ advertising (TV commercials, radio, display, paid social) has not yet begun. The PPC marketplace is uncompetitive and cost-per-click is low because advertisers have not yet instigated a bidding war on these keywords. Although there aren’t as many available impressions, we are able to capture a large percentage of what is there at a very affordable cost-per-click.


Press releases of the first lawsuits are now circulating and major push marketing is underway. Advertisers are taking to TV, display, and Facebook to raise awareness to the cause and to establish themselves as authorities on the case. As the push marketing gets underway, search volume on our campaign’s keywords increases. Paid search is now acting as a harvester, benefitting from the demand being planted by the push marketing campaigns. At this stage, increased volume is available at a similar or slightly higher CPC. If the resources are available, this is an ideal time to increase your budget in order to attain more leads at an affordable cost per click.


As March begins, the attorneys who were late to the paid search auction are beginning to pay more money to make up lost ground. At the same time, the attorneys who provided the early rounds of push marketing are beginning to lower their push marketing budgets and ramp up their paid search. This budget shift creates a compounded problem: less issue awareness (resulting in fewer Google queries) increased budgets competing for the same keywords. These conditions are ripe for CPCs to erupt. Because there is now less total search volume, if you move down to a lower ad position, you risk receiving so few clicks that you effectively retreat from the auction entirely. Dropping to a lower position only works if there is sufficient volume. In this 2014 Search Engine Watch article by Jason Tabeling he shows how powerful the drop in click-through rate can be as you decrease your ad position.


CPCs are beginning to stabilize, having gone from around $6.00 per click in January to $50.00 per click just three months later. At this point there are several ways to increase the return on these expensive clicks.

  • Maximize Quality Score. This means improving click-through rate through better ad writing, maxing out ad extensions, and making sure that ads and landing pages are relevant to the keywords.
  • Most Legal Websites are designed for lead generation. Make sure that your landing pages are optimized to capture the lead.
  • Switch to Exact Match. Using the Search Query Reports in AdWords and Google Analytics, identify the exact match search terms that have the best click-through and conversion rates. Set these up as single exact match keyword ad groups which receive highly specific ads and landing pages. This won’t necessarily decrease CPCs, but it should increase Quality Score and Conversion Rate, giving you the best bang for your buck.
  • Continually monitor your impression share data to determine when ‘sweet spot’ opportunities arise. These times can be identified when your impression share decreases, but your actual campaign impressions increase. During these times it may be possible to lower bids and still be able to generate clicks at a high volume. Automated rules can be set up to lower bids and increase budgets during these times of opportunity.

Moving Forward

This life cycle of an increase in search volume, followed by an increase in competition, can repeat itself several times, causing CPCs to increase further still.  Use the valuable data gathered over the first few months of the campaign as an advantage over the newer entrants to the auction. Continual optimization and a quick response to fluctuations in search volume will give your campaign the needed edge in a highly competitive PPC environment.

Share vs avg cpc
About The Author

As a paid media and analytics veteran of 18 years, he employs creative and analytical solutions to solve clients' biggest digital problems. Outside of the office, you can find Davis running, camping/hiking, chasing his dog Hank, or trying to make the perfect cup of coffee.

Read Bio

Help! I have a Quick Question.

Desktop Tablet Mobile