Negative Keywords For Lawyers

| March 20, 2014

Negative Keywords For Lawyers | @AttorneyRanking |

A negative keyword list for your law firm can play a big role in determining your Quality Score. Your Quality Score determines how much you pay per click, how often your ad is served and at what position you will rank. Keywords and negative keywords work in tandem to optimize your advertisement so that the people who find your website through Google Adwords are genuinely searching for your services.

dollar-signWhy is a negative keyword list so important?

For attorneys, the cost-per-click fees continue to rise and law firms are spending more than nearly all other service oriented industries on Internet ad campaigns. Due to the high price of running a successful campaign, it is important to eliminate clicks that will not convert into new business.

Law firms want to avoid targeting price shoppers, incorrect geographic queries, employment seekers and much more. It is important to note that even if someone does not click on your ad and you aren’t directly paying the price of that click, the impressions you get that are not clicking lower your CTR (click through rate), and can detrimentally affect your Quality Score. Basically, if Google doesn’t think the ad is relevant because people aren’t clicking, they willl decrease your position and make you pay more for positioning.

Here’s what Google has to say about the Quality Score

Quality Score is an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad. Having a high Quality Score means that our systems think your ad, keyword, and landing page are all relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad.


In a nutshell, higher Quality Scores typically lead to lower costs and better ad positions. The AdWords system works best for everybody – advertisers, customers, publishers, and Google – when the ads we show are relevant, closely matching what customers are looking for. Relevant ads tend to earn more clicks, appear in a higher position, and bring you the most success.


negativeMassive Generalized Negative Keyword List

Here is a resource where you can find 200+ negative keywords to help you optimize legal-related AdWords campaigns.  Note that you should skip the “Legal/Law List” section because they are relevant to your industry and important words your market might be using to look for services you provide.  

Included in that link are the following:

  • Avoiding Job Seekers – Prevent search queries for people looking for employment.
  • Informational Queries – Prevent people looking for information and/or definitions.
  • Comparison / Research – Prevent people looking for people researching if you offer the best price for your service.
  • Educational Clicks – Prevent people trying to learn the business or get training.
  • Price Shoppers – Avoid clicks that won’t convert into quality leads. (Note: If you offer a free service you may want to include it in a separate campaign and avoid these keywords)
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) Queries – Prevent people from trying learn how to do it themselves. (Note: If you offer consulting then you may use some of these queries.)
  • Software & Technology – Avoid being confused with software and products when you are selling a service.
  • Manufacturing & Industrial – prevent keywords that are not specific to your industry. (Note: If you are a personal injury firm or construction law firm then you may use some of these keyword phrases)
  • Product & Materials – prevent queries that do not apply to your business.
  • Other – additional queries that are generally not used by law firms.

nsfwSwear Word List (NSFW)

Prevent your ad from showing up for pornographic queries. Even if you’re running a sex offense campaign you won’t want to use most/all of these keywords.


If you exclude locations in your campaign settings, there is still the potential for keywords to come in from locations you do not target.

Law Firm Specific Price Shoppers

Even if you offer free legal consultation, or provide pro bono work, you do not want a person to find your ad through those keywords because most likely they will not provide a return on investment. It is important to use several variations of the word “pro bono” and misspellings.

“pro bono”
“pro bonno”

Avoid Attorney Directories & Websites

“find law”

searcher-intentRemove Areas of Practice That You Do Not Cover

Adding a negative keyword list of practice areas and specializations in which you do not specialize are very important. For example, if you specialize in criminal law, chances are a search query from someone looking for a bankruptcy attorney will not be a good lead. Also, there may be particular cases that does not bring a high return on investment, or cases you do not wish to take for personal or professional reasons. These cases should also be added to the negative keyword list.  Here’s a list of 260+ law firm practice areas to get you started.  

List Your Competitors (Law Firms & Attorneys)

Add attorneys and law firms that are direct competitors of yours to your list. Search engine users typing in a competitor firm will cause an extremely low click through rate for your ad which will hurt your overall Quality Score.

Prevent Humor & Jokes

Get rid of the bored at work crowd attempting to find comedy online:


Avoid Termination “How To” Queries

Most of these are automatic inclusions to a law firm’s negative keyword list but if you’re an employment attorney or workers compensation lawyer you may want to avoid these:

“file a complaint”

Avoid Solicitors

Avoid agencies and solicitors trying to sell you their services:


Use Your Search Query Report

After your campaign is running, you have the capability to find additional keywords with a Search Query Report. To access your SQR, go to your pay-per-click dashboard:

Campaigns > Keywords > Keywords details dropdown (same page) > Search Terms ALL

Credits & Sources

Here is a list of contributors & websites:

There is a lot of thought and planning that goes into a well optimized PPC campaign.  Understanding searcher intent combined with how you instruct Google to show your ads makes a huge impact on your success with AdWords.