4 Psychological Tricks that Top Criminal Lawyers use in their PPC Ads

Are you a criminal defence lawyer running, or thinking about running Google Ads?

With Google Ads being one of the most effective forms of advertising for criminal lawyers, it is no surprise that there are anywhere from 4 to 7 other lawyers who show up on Google Ads. There are even more criminal lawyers whose ads simply do not show up.

It is important to understand how Google Ads works to run a successful campaign yourself or through an agency. However, this analysis will show you how criminal lawyers use PPC ads  across major cities in North America, and why these ads are effective.

We analyzed 327 ads from 62 cities and found that there was a pattern in how the criminal lawyers were advertising.

word cloud for criminal lawyer ads
A Data Visualization of all words used in the 327 PPC ads. Made using WordClouds.com

Want to understand how to port this over to your Google Ads campaign? Read on.

Why Criminal Lawyers run PPC Ads

Statistics from various case studies across law firm marketing companies show that with a good PPC campaign in a big city, you could expect anywhere from 30 to 95 leads per month at a cost of anywhere from $20 to $70 per lead.

Assuming an average scenario here, we have 50 leads at $45 per lead, which is a total of $2250. If you get retained for 20% of the leads, you have spent $2250 for 10 retainers. The remaining 90% may not be a waste, and some may lead to a paid consultation.

The above is an illustration, of course. It also assumes the lawyers are retaining the services of some top-notch law firm marketing companies.

But it provides an indication of why your competitors spend thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands every month on Google Ads.

Because ads work.

Within the criminal lawyers that are advertising on Google, what are the best ones doing to pick off potential files before everyone else?

Psychological Tricks to getting better results with PPC

The four key patterns you could use in your PPC ads are:

  • Being specific to criminal defence
  • Address money and payments
  • Experience counts
  • Time and the scarcity thereof

Pattern 1: Specific to Criminal Defence

When someone is looking for a criminal lawyer, they are not looking for a business lawyer, family lawyer or a personal injury lawyer.

They are looking for a criminal defence lawyer who can get their charges dropped or dismissed.

When you are looking to pick up criminal defence cases, bidding for broad “lawyer” searches is a bad idea. Irrelevant ads result in a loss of click-through rate. Because who wants to call a divorce lawyer when they are getting arrested for theft?

This then becomes a question of relevance. In terms of advertising algorithms, quality score goes down. If the quality score goes down, ad costs go up.

In numbers? A click that you bid $20 for could cost you $120. With a good Quality Score, your $20 bid costs you $10.

A criminal charge retainer for $10 — would you turn it down?

Pattern 2: Money and Affordability

A person looking at hiring a lawyer has these thoughts: “this will get expensive” or “how am I going to afford this?”

There are a large number of ads that use the word “free”. Which makes sense — many lawyers offer a free consultation.

The other often-used keyword is the word ‘affordable’. Help your potential client relax, knowing that money isn’t a barrier to excellent representation.

Note: Positioning yourself as an affordable lawyer is a business decision to consider..

Pattern 3: Experience

Experience grows with the number of years spent as a practicing lawyer. Nearly every top ad has a variation of ‘experience’ and ‘years’. Sometimes, even cases.

Why does this matter?

The legal practice and perceived authority are based on trust and experience. This is reflected in the top ads, where lawyers mention hard, numerical figures of their experience.

The number of years is good. The number of cases, if something like 1000+, is even more impressive.

Numbers stand out in a sea of words on a search page and have been proven to get more attention.

Pattern 4: Time

Let us take a step back to peoples’ mindsets when they are searching on Google.

When someone is searching in Google Ads, especially on mobile, they are ready to call.

And are in a state of panic. Anything to alleviate their stressful situation is welcome.

The analysis showed that a call-to-action (CTA) of ‘Call’, ‘Now’ was standard. Most ads had these terms.

Top performers? They had ‘available’ and ‘speak’.

‘Speak’ and ‘available’ are in reference to ‘speak’ as a CTA. Instead of ‘call’, ‘Speaking’ is more friendly and inviting. See number 11 on this list of calls-to-action.

‘Available’ is also powerful — it means people who are calling can expect a lawyer or someone who can help on the other side, instead of the call going unanswered to a callback or voicemail service.

On an aside: when running Google Ads, it is best to ensure that someone is available to take the call at all times the ad is running. If you cannot take calls during certain times of the day or days of the week, you may wish to consider running your ads during office hours.


Being at the top of Google, you are in the position of making a first impression before everyone else does with their organic listings. Being specific, and addressing a potential client’s concerns about your fees, experience, and whether you’ll respond, make up for great ads –some of which should be a part of your overall brand voice as well.

Catch your clients before they skip over to the maps or to an organic SEO boosted listing. The top criminal lawyers in most cities know this and use this knowledge to pick up extra retainers.

What does your Google Ads strategy look like?