After performing a major overhaul of the way they displayed mobile search results, Google has moved onto desktop search engine results pages (SERPs). At the core of these changes are adjustments to the way paid search ads are displayed. These pay-per-click (PPC) ads will now be shown less frequently and in smaller quantities to most people searching online.
For law and attorney offices, this change could be potentially devastating to their digital marketing efforts. Some of the most expensive PPC ads are related to topics that could potentially bring in client leads, such as “Mesothelioma” or “DUI attorney.” With a lower ad display quantity, getting not only a winning bid, but also the right portion of eyes to notice the ad, becomes a tighter competition. Read on to learn more about why Google’s changes could hurt law businesses, and how smart digital marketing strategies can win back any audiences you lose.
Google’s Changes in Summary
First, let us make the issue plain by describing what, exactly, Google will be changing on desktop SERPs pages:
- The right side column (called a “rail” by Google) will no longer feature text ads, except in special instances like Product Listing ads
- Four text ads will be displayed on the top bar above search results for “highly commercial” search queries directly related to products or services
- Three text ads will be displayed at the bottom of SERPs near the page navigation buttons
- Whereas in the past there could be as many as 11 SERP ads, now the maximum is seven
For businesses, these changes mean less space for PPC ads to display. Competition will become even fiercer for the remaining ads, no doubt allowing larger law firms with fatter advertising budgets to completely push out the smaller firms if left unchecked.
For those that do not know, PPC works by allowing companies to place a maximum bid on how much they are willing to pay to display an ad based on a user’s search terms. For instance, if someone searches “child custody laws,” several divorce law firms may bid to have their ad shown. The highest bid wins. The bid is not paid for unless the user actually clicks on the ad. This system means that even if small firms are able to compete, upward pressure on PPC bid prices could result in each click becoming more expensive than before.
Luckily, there are several digital marketing strategies law firms can deploy to negate any negative impact on their search engine marketing and actually improve website client lead performance overall.
The most expensive search engine queries are often the most generic. For instance, a search for “DUI lawyer” can be more expensive than more specific search terms like “DUI hit and run lawyer.” Yet, because fewer law firms are as likely to use these more-obscure terms — called “long tail queries” — there is less competition, increasing an advertising law firm’s likelihood of being seen. Some may consider this approach a gamble, but companies that are able to carve out a niche can develop a reliable lead generation strategy through strategic keyword use.
An alternative strategy is to forget about PPC and other sponsored search results and focus on the real deal: organic search results. Organic results are what Google naturally pulls up after a search. They are what someone would see if they were using an ad-blocker, for instance. Law firms that are able to successfully end up in these results have a higher click opportunity than worrying about getting the best bid for PPC. Also, if anyone is using the aforementioned ad-blockers, they can still find organic results.
So how do you get into the organic results? With content. Publishing content on your site’s blog that contains keywords like “DUI lawyer” or “DUI hit and run” in a subtle way can cause Google to naturally pull up those terms upon a search.
Furthermore, publishing helpful articles on law topics like DUIs can inform your audience while making them think you are a knowledge leader in your practice specialization. You end up building better audiences with a higher chance at becoming real business leads than before.
EverSpark Interactive Can Show You the Way
Want a digital marketing company to take the reigns and ensure that you can develop an effective content strategy or long-tail PPC strategy? We would love to help. EverSpark specializes in boosting online visibility for businesses like law firms in order to maximize the revenue potential online channels offer. Click here to find out more about how we can help you.