Common PPC Scams by Legal PPC Providers

Common PPC Scams by Legal PPC Providers

It’s no secret that the legal industry is one of the most competitive markets when it comes to pay-per-click management.

Legal keywords, especially personal injury-related, such as:

  • auto/truck/pedestrian accidents
  • medical malpractice
  • mesothelioma
  • workers’ compensation
  • lead paint
  • defective drug recalls, etc.

are among the most expensive keywords that AdWords and other PPC platforms offer, and with lawyers paying anywhere up to $36 per click for certain keywords, the legal PPC market is about as cut-throat as you can get. By the way, don’t forget to check out our report on the most expensive keywords in 2011 thus far.

So it would seem obvious that, with legal PPC being such a competitive market, and with the clear fact that lawyers are willing to throw money to whoever promises them cases, that (just like anything else when it comes to Internet marketing) there are snake oil salesmen out there ready to prey on checkbook-happy firms and solo practitioners.

Here are some of the most commonly-used sales pitches, scams, misconceptions, and straight up LIES that PPC providers give to potential legal clients when trying to sell their services.

“Sure, we specialize in lawyers. We did work for uh, this guy…”

Most PPC providers tell law firms and solo practitioners that they specialize in legal PPC, but what they really mean is that they actually got 4 of the 3,000 firms that they pitched to sign up, so they use those 4 as examples of “satisfied clients”. Meanwhile, when you reach out and talk to the clients about how satisfied that are with the provider, you’ll likely get a response like:

“I don’t know, I think it’s working”,

“I haven’t really had time to deal with it but I think we’re getting cases from it”,

“I can talk to a guy over there whenever I want and he/she seems nice enough”, or

“They pretty much just took my money”.

That last example was an actual response taken from a blog post written this week by Bisnar and Chase, stating that Yodle did absolutely nothing other than scrape and re-create their existing site, setup a few ads, and hope that it did something which, obviously wasn’t the case. $15,000 later and Bisnar and Chase are right back where they started: looking for a PPC provider who actually gets results.

“Well, I don’t think your website is converting…”

I’ve seen this more times than I can count when it comes to excuses given by PPC providers after a few months and zero or little results. They’ll show how many clicks your campaign is getting, and how much traffic it’s driving to the website, but when those visits aren’t converting, the first step is usually “well, we’ll re-vamp the keywords and bid amounts to see if we can improve placement”. Then, after a few months and still little or no results, they blame the website for not converting traffic, and refer you to a web design company for new landing pages versus actually helping you put together and test different landing page variations.

A PPC provider who doesn’t offer landing page design and split-testing, in our opinion, simply doesn’t care about how well their clients’ campaign actually converts and is just there to collect a percentage of your Adwords budget and/or a retainer for managing the campaign and talking to you on the phone once a month (or less).

How can you tell a client that their website doesn’t convert well, and then just refer them to someone else to fix the problem? That’s like a dentist telling me that my teeth are dirty but, instead of cleaning them, he sends me to a “cleaning specialist” who then gives a kickback to the referring doctor, meanwhile I’m stuck paying both dental bills and I’m running around dealing with 2 or 3 different people when the first dentist promised me that he’d be the only dentist I’d ever need to talk to.

Okay, I usually hate analogies, but I had to throw that one in there.

“You don’t need to have AdWords access to see how much we’re bidding per keyword, just leave it to the experts.”

I know… sounds shady, right? But I’ve actually seen this happen on more than one occasion.

A PPC provider charges a client a monthly retainer on top of the AdWords budget, and whenever the client asks to see the AdWords account and how much the provider is bidding on each keyword, the provider says (in so many words) “we can’t let you see that”.

Why?

Do you really think that the only thing that’s going in their pockets is the monthly retainer that they’re charging?

Think again.

And then the clients are wondering why their average position for their main keywords is so low, why they’re not getting cases, and have completely lost track of what they’re paying for or whether it’s actually working because it’s all dependent on what the provider feeds them.

“We only charge a small monthly fee, a percentage of your Adwords budget, and a few bucks per contact”

Wait, you charge how much?

“Oh, just like $500/month, 15% of whatever you spend (cough cough with a minimum of $2 grand cough), and you know, like $50 per lead.”

Okay, and what do I get for that? Are you qualifying the leads and whatever turns out to be spam, crappy leads, or out of towners I’m not charged for?

“Well, you get 24/7 access to our live reporting, and a phone call every other month with one of our account specialists. Oh, and what’s this qualify word that you mention? I’m not familiar.”

Next thing you know, the client gets a $4,000 bill for 2 halfway decent cases and the provider is already asking you to up your AdWords budget so that you can “stay competitive with the other guys who are spending WAY much more than you.”

Don’t believe me? Check out a few reviews where past clients call out shady tactics used by PPC providers:

I have a list of reviews posted on websites by past clients of most of the popular PPC providers which all pretty much say “I got played for a sucker, what was I thinking?”

We’re just the little guy and I don’t believe in public e-battles, so instead of me sharing them on here publicly, if you email george@thesearchninjas.com I’ll send them to you.

Conclusion?

I’ve been in Internet marketing for over five years. I’ve debated the topic of “what makes a good SEO/PPC firm” with other firm owners, past employees, freelancers, speakers… you name it. And the answer is always the same as the answer to “what makes a good legal PPC provider?”.

People.

Sure, you probably already know that, in a perfect world, you paying a full-time person to manage your PPC, SEO, and other web marketing efforts in-house would be the best solution.

But here’s the problem (and trust me, I know this from experience)… you know the old saying “good help is hard to find”?

Try finding a good web marketing consultant who you can lock down for a few years and who doesn’t have ambitions to go off on his or her own. Good PPC people, especially, don’t exactly grow on trees.

Instead, most solo practices and small law firms say to themselves “okay, I’ll get a 20-something intern in here, pay them minimum wage, let them read a few blog posts and take them to a few conferences, and they’ll be killing it for me within 2 years”.

Right.

You really think that 20-something, who is smart enough to master web marketing in one of the most competitive fields that there is,  isn’t going to realize in 2 years after they’re a Certified Ninja that they could make more working on their own? Are you going to pay them six digits a year to keep them on board?

Outsourcing your Adwords campaign can be a good idea, if you find the provider who does everything that they say they do and aren’t just interested in adding clients.