PPC: What are Negative Keywords in AdWords?

Paying for advertising your law firm with Google can be profitable.  In fact, even an attorney with little to no marketing background may bring in new clients by using Google’s AdWords.  However, there is a way to maximize your return when you decide to use Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing.  This blog post will cover one of the main ways to improve your law firm’s PPC campaigns: using negative keywords.

What are Negative Keywords in Adwords?

Negative Keywords allow you to exclude certain search terms from showing your ad.  This way the clients who are actually looking for your legal services will see your ad, and you won’t waste your ad money on people who aren’t looking for a lawyer.

Let’s look at the following example:  If you’re a divorce lawyer, you want your law firm’s ad to show up when people search for “divorce”, “divorce lawyer”, and “divorce attorney”.

However, you probably don’t care about those who are searching for “Divorce Lawyers TV show”.  Those people are probably interested in the BBC television show, and not your legal services.

Negative keywords allow you to narrow your audience to those people who are actually looking for what you offer.  It stretches your advertising dollars farther and improves your marketing program.

Important Note of Negative Keywords Search Campaigns

PPC Marketing for Lawyers

When using normal (positive) keywords in a PPC campaign, Google will do the digital legwork to identify misspellings, plural versions, or synonym.  For example, if you’re selling and advertising for “divorce lawyer,” Google will also apply the search for  “divorc lawyer”, “divorce lawyers”, and “divorce attorneys”.

However, with negative keywords, Google does not do the legwork.  If you want to exclude people who are looking for the Divorce Lawyers television series, you’ll need to include “Divorce Lawyer tv show”, “Divorce Lawyers television series”, etc.  This will be more time-consuming than selecting your positive keywords, but that’s how it works.

How Can This Help My Legal Marketing?

Depending on your marketing budget, you should give PPC marketing a shot.  And when you do it, you’ll want to do it right.  We already know that legal keywords are some of the most expensive, so you’ll want to spend those marketing dollars wisely.  Using negative keywords will allow you to tailor your marketing campaigns to the people you are trying to reach.  If you’re paying upwards of hundreds of dollars per click, you want to make sure those clicks are from potential clients.

If you hire a legal marketing company to handle your PPC, you want to be sure that they are using negative keywords to ensure that you’re reaching the right people.  Many companies offer PPC management as a secondary service to their SEO management, and some of them don’t take PPC very seriously.  They may apply your PPC budget to advertising for the top keywords, without paying attention to the smaller details like negative keywords.

I know Blushark Digital takes their PPC campaigns very seriously.  If you go with an outside company, make sure to ask about their PPC campaigns, what kind of keyword planners they use, and if they use negative keywords.


Do you do your law firm’s PPC advertising?  Do you use negative keywords?  Please leave feedback and questions in the comments section below.

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