what people click on in googleWhen I talk to other SEOs about “what people are clicking on nowadays,” I find every train of thought supporting the results with their own respective reason:

“It is Google Ads, because they are the first placement people see!”
“Is it Google Maps, because they can relate to the map and the reviews and 5 stars are pivotal to click-thru-rate”
“It is a top Google Search Result, so a well-planned and well-executed title and description could actually be the best Click-Through of all of the other results.” Especially when coupled with brands and/or websites people already are fimiliar with.

Really, the only way to settle the score is to have us take a few sample searches (5 in total, 2 from mobile and 3 from desktop) and do a search result heat map to find out what a few hundred people selected for each of these searches. Every result with the question and query is below, along with the result. We will analyze what factors may have contributed to people having gone heavier on ads in some instances, maps on others, and even organic being a top selection in some situations regardless of being technically the 7th or even 8th result down.

“Criminal Lawyer By Me” – Los Angeles, CA – Desktop

Key Observations – Low Click-Through for Google AdWords, Extremely High 1st Maps but Extremely Low 2nd and 3rd Maps, Extremely High 1st Organic and Low 2nd and Beyond

Why Would Google AdWords Be So Low Here?

  • paid google ads lawyer marketingCivil Defence (Defence not spelled defense?) – I don’t think that lawyers also typically want to be associated with the word “affordable.”
  • Second is in Spanish, which shouldn’t be trigged by keywords in English.
  • Culver City triggered when the search took place in downtown LA.

These ads aren’t very riveting for the respective keyword, and don’t pull in anything about the “near me.”

The Rest

  • organic search heatmapThe top maps results gets the majority of the clicks, having 95 reviews and a 4.6 average rating, along with “Criminal” and “DUI” well placed in the location title.
  • Oddly, the second result gets almost no clicks, having 58 reviews and an average 4.5 rating.
  • The top result is Yelp, which has a heavy click-through for its brand recognition, using “Top” as a key modified, “10” as people relate to numbers and lists, and “Los Angeles, CA” for properly idenfiying the location.

“Criminal Lawyer By Me” – Los Angeles, CA – Mobile

Key Observations – High Click-Through for Google AdWords, Extremely High 1st Maps, High 1st Organic

  • Very similar ads on mobile, but of course with mobile ads taking up much more real estate, the click-through is higher. The ad at 1% is again completely in Spanish.
  • The same law firms are located on the maps, with very similar results
  • Likewise for the rest.

The issue with attempting to really see what is happening in mobile is that the participants are performing these tests on a desktop with a view being of mobile, so their mindset may still be geared towards desktop.

“Miami Personal Injury Lawyer” – Miami, FL – Mobile

miami heatmaps seoKey Observations – High Click-Through for AdWords, Modest Maps for Top Ad, 1st and 3rd, High Top Organic Result

  • AdWords does much better here, mainly because the personal injury call-to-actions seem to be much more clear (and some of the law firms are more reputable).
  • The top ad of 11% actually underperforms as a top ad, mainly because it uses a 407 number in a Miami search (an extremely common error for AdWords accounts to not differentiate where people are searching from vs where they want results from).
  • The next ad for Rubenstein Law literally does the same thing, but in a click to call instead of a Call as the title (likely a better approach as to keep the most important line available for a call-to-action and use an ad extension to include the phone number).

Why Did Maps Underperform Here?

  • At first glance, it is hard to say why personal injury maps would underperform. All locations have at least a 4.8 rating and over 50 reviews. In addition, they are categorized as Personal Injury Attorney and open 24 hours. Nothing stands out as unappealing about these listings. 

seo heatmap best practices

  • The top listing has utilized AMP capaibilites and certainly has gone all in with the extended amount of characters that can be featured.
  • The click-through ticks up a bit below with the first featured image of an attorney within the results.

“Miami Personal Injury Lawyer” – Miami, FL – Desktop

Key Observations – High Click-Through for AdWords top 2 positions, Modest Maps for Top Ad, 1st and 3rd, High Top Organic Result

  • search engine heat mapsThe top few results perform very well for their involved descriptions covering call-to-actions, achievements, and practice areas.
  • The last ad performs poorly because of their multiple inabilities to exclude Orlando from Miami results.
  • The only insight I would have for the underperformance of the maps in these locations is the exclusion of personal injury keywords in the location titles (which I don’t typically think is a good practice to begin with) and the appearance of “Family” starting to come in on the CP Law Firm PA in the second position. This would normally be an area that could easily garner a third of all clicks.

“Dallas Estate Planning Attorney” – Dallas, TX – Desktop

Key Observations – High Click-Through for AdWords top 2 spots, High Maps for Positions 1 and 3, 1st and 3rd, High Top Organic Result and Modest Second Result

  • The first two ads have helpful information, especially with the first with great sitelinks.

law firm organic search

  • It is unsurprising that the 3rd and 4th ad locations are performing poorly – the descriptions are short and unappealing compared to the first two, with the fourth nearly saying nothing about the firm.
  • google rankingsThis map points out something that supports the extensive research we’ve produced about the importance of reviews – the second position gets 0% of the clicks because it has absolutely no reviews. The third position has garnered 19% because it has three times as many reviews as the first maps listing, with an average rating of 5.0 instead of the 4.3 in the first position.
  • The top positions of SuperLawyers and Yelp respectively likely retain their high click-through for using language as “Best,” showcasing “estate planning” prominently, and being brands many people are familiar with.

TL; DR Takeaways

  • The strongest Google Ads normally took advantage of the much longer span of content you can write in the ads. Even in the absence of sitelinks, the 3 lines of text these ads can take in the first 2 ad positions can make a huge difference.
  • It is much better to use a call ad extension than attempt to put the phone number in the ad title (what is this 2014?).
  • People still serve ads to people in cities distinctly searching for services in another city. Don’t be one of those people.
  • Serving ads in a language that the query was not typed in is going to kill your click-through rate even more.
  • The first organic position, past AdWords and maps, is still extremely valuable. If you have a strong meta title and description, you can still have click share in the 3rd and 4th Anything past that is almost completely useless on desktop and marginal on mobile
  • We’ve been doing a lot of research on reviews, for a long time, and having no reviews is essentially the same as not even having a listing when put up against other listings with quality reviews. The heatmaps in this research confirm that most of the time, the listings with the best reviews prevailed.


There isn’t any position, either on paid, maps, and organic, that truly completely dominates. The composition of result types and their positions have their own merits as far as wording and information being provided. While someone positioned well on maps with good reviews could enjoy up to 30% of the clicks, they could also stand to have good positioning in the top 3 results for organic traffic and even another position on AdWords, if tracked properly and shown to provide value.

Do you have a good position in one of the discussed spots but are looking for more share in others?  Do you have no presence anywhere at all? At Market My Market, we specialize in assisting law firms gain visibility in all of the aforementioned areas, for most law firm practice areas, all over these great United States. We’ve had success with organic, maps, and paid in all markets, with respectable campaigns in competitive areas as large as New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. Contact us to learn more and even arrange a conversation with one of our legal marketing experts.