Obsessive Attorney Search Behavior

We regularly comb through search data, as recorded by Google Webmaster Tools and AdWords, to improve campaign results. Doing this today, for a “Car Accidents” campaign, the data give me a strong impression of 12 Phoenix attorneys, obsessively searching on “car accident attorney” and “auto accident lawyer” several times a day, to see where their own ads are.

What, in the data, gave me that impression? Normally search data is fairly “noisy” but in this case, the top several matches are exact matches, and there is very little noise. So the data (I suspect) are skewed by obsessive lawyer habits.

Another reason to suspect client behavior as a large factor: the keywords are bid up to the sky, in Phoenix, in this space. Say there are 12 lawyers, all wanting to rank in the top 3, no exceptions. They set their “automated bidding rules” to bump them up daily, if their ad ranks >3. That means every day, there are 9 losers, every morning, there are 9 busy robots, and every day, Google gets richer. At some point, the game gets too rich for one attorney (can you say $800 per click?) and when they drop out, another one fills their seat and enters the bidding war. Endlessly spiraling up. (I need to figure out how to create a downward spiral.)

Such a focus on rank, for rank’s sake, is consistent with checking your own rankings over and over, all day.

It’s not productive! There are ways to get around all this, by careful and detailed attention to match type, time of day, etc. but at the heart of the beast, in Phoenix, in this space, there is a robotic bidding war.

It’s not healthy for the client, who at some point, says “I spent a lot in order to rank at the top, and it didn’t pay off. AdWords doesn’t work.” (You’re doing it wrong).

Back to the original topic of obsession: You can tell a lawyer not to search obsessively (because among other things, it dilutes CTR and drives their cost up) but you are never going to eliminate it! “Stop obsessing!” is rarely effective advice. Obsession is loopy. It is what it is.

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