Is Your Legal Marketing Company Following Google's AdWords Third-Party Policy?

Gyi Tsakalakis
February 3, 2017

Do you pay someone to manage your law firm's AdWords campaigns?

No? You might want to consider it. Unless you're a sophisticated paid search media manager and have the time to devote to properly managing your campaigns, you're likely wasting money.

Yes? Are they following Google's third-party partner policies?

Unfortunately, some online legal marketing agencies don't. Here's what you need to know and why it matters.

You can read the Google AdWords working with third parties policies here.

First, you choose a Google-certified agency. To me, this is table stakes. It's not that all Google Partner agencies are awesome. Instead, you should view Partner status as a floor of minimum credentials. Think of it as licensed to practice not necessarily competent to practice.

Second, and here's the important part, they should provide you with full transparency into their fee versus the cost of your advertising. Here are some quick tips for choosing your AdWords partner:

  1. Use Google Partner search to verify Google Partner status. Don't rely on badges on their site. Anyone can put a badge on their site.
  2. Has the partner worked with law firms like yours?
  3. Is the partner currently working with your competitors? This a good question for choosing a law firm SEO company too.
  4. Does the partner offer other legal marketing services beyond AdWords management? Working with partners who offer integrated legal marketing campaigns tend to generate better results.
  5. Use one partner at a time. Splitting budgets across companies can create problems. If you insist on splitting budgets across vendors, make sure someone is coordinating your efforts. If you don't you run into double-serving issues or unnecessarily drive up the cost of your ads.
  6. Learn the basics. There's no better protection from being taken advantage of than educating yourself. Spend some time in the AdWords Help Center.
  7. Get case studies and referrals. Make your prospective partner demonstrate their knowledge, skill, and experience managing online legal advertising campaigns. Ask a lot of questions.
  8. Regularly measure results. Define success metrics in advance. Focus on metrics like return on ad spend. Connect advertising dollars to client fees.

Following these general guidelines will help you avoid most the scammers.

If your prospective AdWords manager suggests any of the following, run away and tell your friends, tell Google, and tell us too:

  1. We can't share the cost and performance of your campaigns. Get out! At the absolute minimum, they should share data on clicks, impressions, advertising costs, and their fees. In fact, you should own your accounts! It's your data! It's your money! Don't be held hostage by advertisers that spend your money in their accounts!
  2. We guarantee the top ad position. Run! It's a trap! They're lying! Also, this is usually a terrible idea anyway. You'll end up wasting money.
  3. We have a special relationship with Google. Ugh! We hear this all the time. There are only two special relationships: Google Partner status and Premier Partner status. While, as previously noted, partner status is a minimum floor, they should not be relied on as a strong indicator of quality. Furthermore, Premier Partner status really just means they spend a lot of money with Google. While that might be an indicator of experience, keep in mind that Google's primary interest is to get advertisers to spend more money, not necessarily to get the best results for you.
  4. If you pay for AdWords, you'll rank better organically. Lies.
  5. We can't separate spend from fees. Get everything in writing. Specifically, make sure they itemize: budget for ad spend, their fees, what specifically they're going to do for that fee (i.e. test ad copy, landing pages, manage bids, reporting), and how specifically they will measure performance (hint: connect it to clients).

Unfortunately, I know for a fact that many of you are being taken advantage of by your AdWords partners. If you're reading this, you've now been warned and have no excuses. Take accountability for your advertising spends. If you're in an agreement with a vendor who won't commit to Google's basic third-party policies, end it. Report them.

Gyi Tsakalakis
Co-Founder of AttorneySync
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