Google Adword and the Legal Profession

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The online search world can provide amusing insights into our culture and society. There are web sites which list the currently most expensive keywords. It can be an intriguing exercise attempting to decipher why a given keyword has high value. Several at the top relate to the illustrious legal profession. These keywords have a clear reason for incurring value. A click means a potential client which translates to money in the bank.

Representation for drunken driving offenses are high on the list. “Phoenix dui lawyer” and “Boston dui lawyer” are prominently towards the top along with the corresponding derivations using the word “attorney” instead of “lawyer”. Let’s ponder this. Why would top Adword ranking for those keywords be so precious? Logic would dictate that this isn’t a casual search. If you are typing in those words, then the odds are high you mean business. Most likely you have just been arrested for DUI and need a lawyer.

No doubt analysis has been done ascertaining how likely it is the top ad will be clicked. Further study surely has been done showing how many clickers will pick up the phone and retain the attorney owning that ad. Let’s assume 1 out of 5 who click on the ad end up calling and retaining the firm. The next variable is how much a DUI case is worth to an attorney. This most probably ranges by locality and explains why one city’s keyword price is much higher than another’s.

One can logically conclude that Phoenix is a very profitable place to handle drunken driving cases. Boston, Austin, San Diego, and LA all also prominently make the most expensive of all keywords list when combined with the phrase “dui attorney” or “dui lawyer”. Drunken driving appears to be a nice revenue source for Google as well as the lawyers who service the accused.

The keywords including “dui lawyer” combined with given top cities usually cost over $55 per click paid for top ranking. Using the one out of five projection, that means the firm is effectively paying $275 for each converted click. This is most likely a paltry sum compared to the profit made on that case.

“Mesothelioma patient” is ranked even higher than the “dui attorneys”. One could safely bet all they own on the proposition that keyword is not purchased by physicians seeking patients. “Personal injury lawyer” is also high value greatly outranking “car insurance prices”. The top 1000 value keywords are littered with judicial related phrases obviously purchased for client retention purposes.

It is ironic how ordinarily lawyers are precluded from paying referral fees to non lawyers. Is Google a lawyer? In the end there is no difference between an outright referral fee and a payment to Google via securing the top Adword spot. The attorney isn’t paying Google an official “cut”, but there is no doubt it is now down to a science with a consistent percent of each case ending up in Google’s coffers for sending the client their way. It is a world of difference from the historical arrangement of paying the Yellow Pages or a billboard company a flat fee to place an ad.

The difference between keyword purchases and outright referral fees relate to technology and semantics alone. However, no doubt a good attorney could argue otherwise. Maybe one found by typing in “client recruitment ethics attorney” into Google.