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How much do Google ads cost?

Written by Gary Honold on . Posted in .
Home > Blog > How much do Google ads cost?

Key takeaways:

  • Google ads are a valuable tool for advertising your law firm.
  • These ads, when created properly, can create highly targeted results and bring high-quality leads to your website.
  • There’s much that goes into getting those clicks based on the competition — and the competition in the legal industry is huge.
  • At Array Digital, we successfully build fully custom PPC strategies for law firms in various practice areas and locations.

In today’s digital advertising landscape, law firms, ranging from large national entities to smaller local practices, encounter significant challenges in effectively understanding and leveraging Google ads. These challenges primarily revolve around determining the most efficient allocation of marketing budgets, strategizing bids, and achieving a satisfactory return on investment (ROI). The complexity of these decisions can lead to concerns over the potential misallocation of valuable marketing resources, which is critical for client acquisition and enhancing brand visibility.

Using search ads without understanding the factors that go into these decisions can could mean misallocating your budget without improving conversions, client acquisition, or brand visibility.

By leveraging the expertise of experienced professionals at Array Digital who are familiar with the legal industry and advertising dynamics, law firms can optimize their utilization of Google ads. Consider setting up a consultation with Array Digital to see how we can manage or create your Google ad campaign.

Factors that influence Google ad cost

The cost of Google ads varies widely due to numerous factors. Google Ads (formerly called Google AdWords) is a type of advertising platform that lets you place a bid on specific keywords. When those keywords appear in the search engine results for a searcher, your ad displays on that page. The benefit is that it positions your ad right in front of those most likely to need your services.

However, the more competitive the keywords are, the more you can expect to pay for the service, and other factors apply as well. Here is a look at some of them.


The more competitive your industry, the more expensive the ads will be. Simply, there’s more demand for those keywords — and that drives the cost up.

The legal industry is one of the most competitive industries. The sheer volume of competitors drives the cost up.


Another important (and quite valuable) aspect to focus on includes trends. When key terms you use and want to get hits for are trending, there’s more competition for them. That pushes the value of these keywords higher as well.

The increased competition from trends will raise costs, but this is never a static figure. Rather, it’s constant motion when working with online platforms and search engines. You have to stay up to date on:

  • What people are searching for
  • What are your competitors competing for
  • Current trends influencing those searches and how they impact your legal services
google search trends

From the context of Google ads, the search engine will price ads based on trends they see related to users. Here are some examples:

  • Clickthrough rate increases: If the clickthrough rate (CTR) is increasing, that means the ad is engaging more people in an effective manner. Higher engagement attracts more competition from advertisers who are also looking for the same benefits.
  • Increasing cost per click (CPC): CPC increases may be due to more lawyers bidding on specific keywords. That means more competitive advertising is occurring. To remain competitive, you have to pay more as these costs rise.
  • Higher cost per lead (CPL): This trend will also drive costs up and impact most industries. It provides an indication of the cost of acquiring leads. When costs rise, it may be necessary to adjust your strategy.
  • Conversion rate (CVR) decline: Even in situations where your engagement is high, a decreased conversation rate is an important trend to monitor. Even though more people are clicking on these ads, just a small portion of them actually take a desirable action like becoming a prospective client.

Campaign strategy

Your campaign strategy will play a role in the costs you pay for any advertising campaign. When it comes to PPC, there are numerous parts that make up the overall cost you can expect.

Ad type

There are five commonly used ad types with Google. The most common of these are display ads and search ads. Because these are the most common, they tend to cost more than other types of ads. The following are the types of Google ads available:

  • Google search ads: Search engine results page (SERPs) display when someone googles a specific keyword looking for information. These ads show up on the SERPs and tend to be at the top in positioning.
  • Google display ads: These are larger, banner-like ads that are shown in Google Display Network (GDN). They are present on numerous apps, websites, and other online locations that participate in this network. These ads target are shown to people based on demographics, the previous content they viewed, or their interests.
  • Google video ads: Video ads are common on YouTube. These are displayed when someone is watching a video. They can include storytelling, sound, and graphics.
  • Google shopping ads: These ads are product-specific and tend to provide specific details like consumer reviews, ratings, or prices. These are less beneficial to attorneys.
  • Google App ads: These ads are for mobile applications. They appear on GDN, YouTube, or the search engine itself.

At Array Digital, we recommend that lawyers allocate their ad budget to search ads for maximum benefit.

Bidding strategy

Your bidding strategy depends on the research you put into it. You need to know which keywords yield a higher conversion to help your campaign. That way, you know where to target and provide a higher budget.

Like any bid at an auction, you want to get the most out of the minimal purchase you can make. Instead of going after what everyone else is — which tends to drive up cost — we want to find areas of opportunity that allow you to get very effective results for lower.

Bidding involves setting the maximum amount you are willing to pay for each interaction (click) that your ad gets.

bidding strategy

You can set a daily budget that is in line with your goals. You can choose a Google ads budget at any point that you feel is affordable and will yield the results you need. However, there are two bidding strategies to consider specifically:

  • Manual bids: Manual bidding lets you set the maximum cost you will pay for every keyword and ad. That’s the high point. If you know which keywords are going to produce more clicks and lead to conversions, you can allocate a higher budget for those keywords within your Google Ads account. This method:
    • Gives you more overall control over your Google ads budget
    • Requires you to set the rules and adjustments when needed
    • Requires you to spend more time on the process of managing your campaign
  • Automated bidding: Alternatively, you can make the decision to let Google’s algorithm do the work for you. It sets bids based on the likelihood that your ad will generate a click or lead to a conversion. This method:
    • Is easy to set up with defined limits
    • Is automatic and driven by Google’s ever-changing algorithm
    • It does require constant monitoring, and you will need to make adjustments
    • There’s less overall clarity on the Google Ads pricing


Another factor impacting ad spending will include targeting or what specific areas you are after. This includes:

  • Schedule: The schedule is the timeframe of when you want ads to be displayed. You may want your ads to display at specific times based on when your clients may be looking for help. For example, personal injuries occur at any point in the day, so running ads during the late night hours can still be helpful (same with criminal defense or DUI attorneys).
  • Location: You also may want to consider these metrics as an attorney. Your ad can be targeted to only display within specific geolocations. That way, only prospects in your area see your ad. Geotargeting is often critical for attorneys.
  • Device: You can also select a specific type of device, such as mobile devices or desktops. For attorneys, device targeting is less important unless you know your clients are using mobile devices far more than other methods.
google ad performance across devices

Management fees

Campaign management fees cannot be overlooked. They are a component of your advertising costs. These are charges you will pay to use a digital marketing agency for your online advertising activities. Hiring a marketing agency is certainly an investment, but it also allows you to have a professional managing your Google Ads account, and that may include daily spending goals, ad format decision-making, market trends factors, and your spending limit. You can still set expectations and costs, but the difference here is that someone else — a professional — will help you make decisions.

Though costs differ, if you turn to a digital marketing agency to manage your campaigns and overall advertising, it will usually include various fees. Most often, Google advertising costs from a management agency include:

  • Keyword research appropriate for your goals
  • Campaign setup
  • Optimization of your campaign
  • Reporting

How much you’ll pay is dependent on where you operate and who you hire. There are some organizations that charge a flat fee for this service whereas others may charge based on ad spend.

Is this worth your investment?

In numerous ways, hiring a professional to handle this work for you can actually extend how far your advertising budget goes for several reasons:

  • These professionals know how to maximize your ad performance and often can deliver a higher quality score and more effective ads.
  • Efficiency is another core benefit. Unless you want to be hands-on (and that means spending a good amount of time daily on the project), then it’s best to let a professional do the work instead. They tend to manage more than one campaign at a time, creating more efficiencies overall.
  • Which search query is trending this week? What ad placements are performing best right now? As a fluid environment, having a professional to monitor network trends is critical as it helps you to stay ahead of the competition (not playing catchup).
  • Analytics and metrics are perhaps the most valuable component of using a professional. They enable you to have better results because you can get more data (and understand that data) including ad copy, ad formats, target audience, and overall ad performance.

If you have the time and energy to focus on these tasks yourself, we highly advise you to learn as much as you can about the Google Search Network as well as other online advertising platforms so your budget goes as far as it can.

How Google determines your CPC

Your cost-per-click (CPC) is determined based on numerous factors combined. Specifically, there are three key factors that play a role in what you end up paying.

cost per click analysis

Quality score

Your quality score is one of the most important factors. Google tries to determine how relevant your ad is to the user. They go further than just looking at the ad content; they also consider your landing page or where you are sending people who click on your link. Google does not want to send a person who needs personal injury law help to a real estate attorney’s webpage.

It is possible to monitor your quality score over time. In doing so, you can tweak your efforts to improve the outcome of your Google ads.

You can check your quality score within your Google Ads account. A score of 10 is typically considered high.

  • That means that Google believes both your ad and your landing page are relevant and beneficial to a person who is looking at your ad.
  • If your score is low, that means your ad is likely positioned lower in the SERPs or, in some cases, it may not show up at all.

By paying attention to your quality score can help you ensure better results, too. Ultimately, with pay-per-click marketing like this, you don’t want to drive just anyone to your landing page but rather people who need the specific services you need. Improving your ad content and quality, as well as your landing page experience, can help you to get not just more traffic but traffic that turns into leads for you.

Ad rank

The next factor is ad rank. Here’s what happens:

  • You create an ad that has the keywords you want. That sets the price to a point.
  • Google then determines where your bid lies compared to others. What is the maximum amount you are willing to pay Google for that click?
  • Your quality score, as we just mentioned, is then considered.
  • Then, the expected impact from your ad formats, like ad extensions, is considered.
  • Ultimately, based on all of this information, Google ranks your ad.

The rank is a function to determine where your ad is positioned on the page and whether or not it will even appear in the search engine results. The higher you rank, the more valuable your ad is to you but also the higher the cost.


overall conversions from cost per click

Now, let’s take a look at the formula for taking this information and determining your ad cost. Here is the formula:

The ad rank of the person below you / your quality score + 0.01 = your cost per click

For example, if an advertiser has a max bid of $1.50 that is multiplied by their quality score (let’s say 10) this gives them their ad rank (in comparison to competition) of 15. In this situation, the actual CPC is $1.21.

Now, what can be confusing is that just increasing your maximum bid does not automatically mean you’re going to be top of the line. For example, if an advertiser has a $6.00 maximum bid but their quality score is just 1, their ad rank is 6. That higher bid does not outweigh the fact that they are going to get better results or better placement.

Lower costs are possible in a number of situations. In most situations, you’ll need to tweak your ad campaign and update each of your keywords to get to a level that fits your needs. You need quality leads that are going to convert.

Your ad’s quality score is critical to get right, and it is often an area where law firms struggle. A low-quality score can lead to a much higher CPC because your budget has to be higher to compete. Yet, you can lower costs in an ad auction by improving the quality of your ad as well as the landing page.

Understanding how Google ads work in this way is critical. Like any small business that needs potential customers, no PPC campaign or other form of advertising makes sense unless people actually contact you for your legal services. Driving a better quality score will naturally produce that for your law firm.

Why law firms partner with Array Digital

At Array Digital, we do the work for you. When you turn to us for your digital marketing needs, we can help you create an effective strategy for getting your average CPC under control, allowing you to get better results from clicks.

Our clients work with us because we are highly specialized in helping law firms with all of their needs, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media retargeting, adjusting monthly budgets for PPC, ad scheduling for your Google Ads campaign, and even brand awareness. We listen to our clients and then build a custom strategy for them.


“The entire team at Array Digital is amazing! They are incredibly knowledgeable and very quick to respond to their clients’ needs or concerns. If you are looking for a professional team to handle your website, I definitely recommend them!!!” — Donna T.

“Kevin and his team at Array Digital are the proverbial Pros from Dover. I was a guest on his podcast, and he made it easy and conversational. His digital marketing team is also top-notch — they’re growing firms by leaps and bounds. In the digital age, digital marketing is no longer optional, particularly in certain fields like PI law, criminal/traffic law, and family law, which are volume practices. Kevin and Array Digital are uniquely positioned to help firms practice in the 21st century of tech.” — Rob B.

“Have worked with Array for several years, and after having website management / SEO services provided by many companies over the years, Array has been the most productive and effective for my business. They have always remained professional and stay on top of such an ever-changing industry. Their customer service is superb!” — Sergio V.

Additional resources

The best budget-friendly way to promote your small law firm:  If the average cost per click you are paying is worrying you, check out our strategies for creating a budget-friendly manner for marketing your law firm. There are numerous ways that you can make the most out of your monthly budget and capitalize on quality leads without feeling overwhelmed by Google ads.

Managing Partners Podcast expert legal marketing strategies: Our Managing Partners Podcast is an excellent tool that can help you get the insights you need in a real-world, real-time environment. We talk about truly impactful content that influences our law firm-specific clients as far as marketing.

Different types of Google ads for lawyers: We touched on this topic already, but there’s much more to cover. Learn more about how to choose the best types of Google ads for your law firm.

Start your Google ads campaign now

Take into consideration what you are doing now to advertise your law firm. If you were an e-commerce business, you could easily create an ad and market it to your customers, make a sale, and move on to the next. Law firms need far more work. You need to build authority and develop high-value, engaging content for your site. You have to not just get people to your site with an ad but also get them to provide their phone number and contact information.

This is a task for an experienced team. At Array Digital, we have developed effective strategies that make the most out of your advertising budget, including both your SEO efforts and any Google ads you purchase. Let’s talk about it. Set up a call with us by filling out the form on our page, or call 757-333-3021 to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is paying for Google ads worth it?

We hear this a lot, and the answer is yes, most of the time. Google ads are valuable, and they do deliver targeted leads to your law firm’s website. If you have the budget for it, and want to see faster results than what SEO could yield, use Google ads. It’s also a good way to get leads coming in while we work to build your SEO efforts.

It’s important to note, however, that Google Ads is not always a good choice for every legal niche. It’s best to speak to a professional in this area to explore your options.

Is SEO better than Google Ads for law firms?

This is a tricky question because it really depends on the type of results you want to see from your marketing efforts. If you want to see fast leads coming in right away, or your firm needs to start generating leads immediately, Google Ads gives you that advantage.

However, SEO — which should work alongside your ad strategy — takes longer to develop. It is an ongoing investment you make in your website to remain competitive. Once you start SEO, you will start to see improvement in traffic and ranking. However, even then, you need to keep working on it to sustain that growth.

SEO will cost less over time than a Google Ads campaign, but SEO takes longer. Remember, it typically is not one or the other. Your law firm needs a comprehensive strategy that often encompasses both tactics!

How much should small law firms spend on Google Ads on average?

This changes based on multiple factors: the type of legal field you are in, the quality score Google gives you, and much more. There is no average CPC possible to provide because this is dependent on your practice area and goals.

Schedule a free assessment call with Array Digital to see how we can help your small law firm to get seen and see results!

What is the cost-per-click formula?

To calculate the average cost-per-click, divide the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks you receive.

Can I set an average daily budget for Google Ads?

If the thought of spending a lot of money uncontrolled worries you (and it should), the good news is that you can set an average daily budget for your ads. This is done right on your Campaigns page. If you are working on a daily budget, set that future. If you are considering a monthly budget, divide the number by 30.4.

Written By Gary Honold
I am a digital marketer and SEO manager with 30+ years’ experience driving web traffic, leads, and conversions for clients in highly competitive markets.

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