In the Internet Jungle, How to Make Ethical Law Firm Search Ads

Reports of shady machinations on the internet are rising: privacy intrusions, misinformation, deception by politicians and trolls. It almost makes you nostalgic for the days of good old-fashioned spam.

As a law firm leader looking to the internet to bring in more clients and cases, you want to be mindful of the ethics of online advertising.

Paid Search, or Pay-Per-Click (PPC), advertising, is a highly effective tool for growing a law firm. But you also have your firm’s image, positive influence on the world and good standing in the profession to consider.

A helpful framework for ethical PPC advertising recently appeared in Search Engine Journal, a publication dedicated to digital marketing news.

Keep reading for a legal-tinted summary.

Standards for Digital Legal Marketing with Integrity

To infuse your online legal marketing with integrity, the Search Engine Journal article said you should apply a model that digital marketers call EAT—for Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness:

  • Expertise: Use your Paid Search ads to convey your firm’s relevant experience in the law, such as how many years it’s been in operation or how many cases it’s handled.
  • Authenticity: Be realistic in your online advertising about what you can provide through your legal services. You can’t guarantee you’ll win a case, for example, but you can say you’ll fight for your client.
  • Trustworthiness: Identify your firm in your PPC ads in a way that’s consistent and easily identifiable with all of your other marketing channels. Be clear about the goal of your campaign, for example that you want prospects to contact your firm.

On top of the EAT model, the Search Engine Journal article added two other points:

  • Avoid Click Bait: Stay away from tactics that mislead the user in order to get more attention.
  • Avoid Click Fraud: Don’t get involved with shady campaigns to send fake clicks to your competition, forcing them to spend ad money on junk.

Get a Digital Marketing Agency that Understands the Nuances of Legal

The Search Engine Journal article focused on ethics in digital marketing in general, not law firm marketing in particular.

But at Firmidable, we’re dedicated entirely to law firms. And working with an expert legal marketing agency like ours to manage your Paid Search campaigns can help you ensure that additional special considerations for law firms are covered in your advertising.

That could mean staying away from calling an attorney a “specialist” in a legal practice area unless they have a formal certification in that area. It could mean being careful not to over-promise the results you can deliver. It could mean avoiding lead-buying services that aren’t transparent with potential clients about who they’re representing. It could mean avoiding blanket claims that your competitors will provide worse service than you. And more.

After all, unlike other advertisers who need to think about internet ethics, law firms have bar association rules to take into account, too.

For a conversation about law firm digital marketing strategies rooted in strong ethics, you’re always invited to talk to us at Firmidable.

Firmidable has been a national expert in legal marketing for almost 30 years. It brings law firms customized, data-driven marketing strategies and services, including online and traditional media for a wide range of legal practices. From Maine to Hawaii, it has transformed the lives of attorneys—and their clients.

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About the Author: Mark Waller

Mark Waller is the senior writer/editor at Firmidable. He has written book-length websites for law firms, enhanced content on dozens of law firm sites for search engine optimization, written and optimized law firm Paid Search ads and developed scripts for law firm TV ads—helping firms across America grow their caseloads. Before he started in legal marketing, Mark’s writing and communications career included working for a university president and as a local journalist. He was a member of the staff at The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans that won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

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