Everyone who has used Google to search has seen Google Search ads, but not many people fully understand how they work.

In order to explain how the ads work, let’s look at an example:  searching for a lawyer in Victoria, BC.

In this example on a desktop computer, I’ll begin by opening a web browser, going to google.ca, and typing in “estate lawyer Victoria bc”. After hitting enter/return to launch the search, Google uses literally millions of potential data points to bring up the results. These data points include:

  • The search query (“estate lawyer Victoria bc”)
  • My geographic location
  • The type of device being used (computer, tablet, phone)
  • My search history
  • My age and gender (if I use other Google Services)
  • Numerous other criteria

In cases where law firms are using Google Ads, and “bidding” to have their ads appear in Search results, Google will look at the specific search query (what was typed in) and see how it matches with the “keywords” that they are bidding on (advertisers bid on certain “key” words to trigger their ads).

The desktop search results are below:

In the above example, I’ve highlighted the ads visible on the screen. Google first shows 3 Google Search ads (Google Search ads are always in text format).

Google knows that location is important to the search (Google knows people searching for lawyers are looking to find lawyers in their area), so we see a Google Map showing downtown Victoria (which is the neighbourhood I am in now), with several top results shown in it immediately below the ads. And just below that, Google shows the “Google My Business” (map) listing results with another Search Ad in there.

You actually have to scroll quite far down the page to find the “organic” search results (regular “free” listings, though they require quite a bit of work to rank for, especially with legal services terms (“personal injury lawyer”, “family lawyer”, etc.).

If you were to do the same search on your phone it brings up interesting results. Two Google ads are the ONLY thing you can see before you scroll further down the screen.

This is notable since searches on mobile are now occurring more often than searches on desktop

As you can see from these examples, if you have a local business and want to show up prominently in Google, you should:

  • Ensure your Google My Business listing is claimed and filled out properly. To learn more about Google My Business and why it is important, download our Google My Business Guide For Lawyers.
  • Consider a Google advertising strategy, even if your organic rankings are good (as you have seen, the ads are the first thing people will see when searching on Google!)

Questions? Comments?

Contact me and let me know!

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