Pay Per Click Advertising – is it worth the cost?

Do you want to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue? How much would you spend to pay for a single display ad in a newspaper for just one day? Or for an ad in a magazine that may or may not be seen by some fraction of your prospective market? A lot more over time than it costs to use PPC if you use it wisely.


You see them every time you do a search.

Sponsored Ads.

You know – those ads at the top of most search engine results pages and/or down the right side of those pages.

“Sponsored” meaning that someone is paying Google (AdWords) or Yahoo (Yahoo Search Marketing) or Microsoft (MSN Live) money for their ad to come up in such a prominent location on the search engine. Above millions of other listings.


So what does it cost, and is it worth it?

Well, the cost is “Per click”. You pay the search engine company only if someone actually clicks on that link to go to your web site. And it’s on a “bid” process – whereby three, five, fifty or several hundred companies all want to be listed for a particular search phrase. Some are willing to pay more than others. Others just want to be found, even if it means their ad comes up on the 2nd page or the 3rd page. So they pay less.

In all my years of managing pay per click advertising accounts for clients, whether they be luggage retailers, artists, lawyers, jewelry makers, personal coaches.. I have seen the cost per click for being in the top results of sponsored ads range anywhere from a few cents per click all the way up to $97 per click. The more fiercely competitive the industry, the more money that is at stake to get just one customer or client, the higher the cost per click.

So in an industry like luggage, the cost could typically be anywhere from $1 per click up to $6 or $10, depending on the particular search phrase or the time of year. (Winter holidays the cost goes up of course).
For attorneys where one client can generate millions of dollars in jury awards, it’s in the $60 to $100 range usually. For a personal coach or event planner, it can be 25 cents a click up to a couple dollars or so.


Can I afford this?

Okay – so if I advertise in the sponsored listings, and if each click through to my site costs me $1, will this cost me thousands of dollars every month? The good news is that you can set a maximum you are willing to spend on any single click, or as a total within a day or month.

Actually it’s not such a cut and dried thing.Just because someone comes to your web site doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed that they’ll buy. First, was your selection of keyword phrases and your ad copy chosen to target your ideal prospective client or customer? And once they were at your web site, is your site so compelling that more people than not actually stay long enough and feel motivated enough to convert to a sale?


So how do I succeed with PPC advertising?

The process of creating a successful advertising campaign with PPC advertising is a vast and potentially all consuming one, and there are not specific hard and fast rules that fit every situation.

But generally, there are some pretty common factors, a little of which I have already touched on above. Rather than attempting to provide a comprehensive book-length answer here, I’ll instead provide a bit more clarity here, and leave it up to you to choose to find out more if you’re still intrigued by the possibility.



Choose the absolute best keyword phrases.

Sometimes this means choosing a phrase that is searched less often than others, but where there is less competition among advertisers, and thus the cost is less to get you higher up in the positioning of your ad.

Fewer high quality phrases is sometimes better than scattershot low quality phrases

If you know of fifty possible phrases people use to search for your offerings, it may be better to only put your cost per click dollars into the higher performing or the more common phrases to one degree or another, rather than trying to spread your limited budget too thin. Alternatively, you might try and experiment for a couple months only going with less popular or less expensive phrases but more of them. Only your actual results will tell you how to proceed and what really works for your needs.

Ad Variations

Create a variety of ads, experimenting with the wording. And sometimes, changing the wording on an ad makes sense just because of the change of a season, or special promotions you run, or because of something happening in the news that relates to your products or services that your ad can speak to… Over time, you will be able to see which performs better as related to which keyword phrases.


Google or Yahoo or MSN

I will say this but it’s just my opinion– while Yahoo has it’s place, in my experience managing countless campaigns for clients all across the country, Google’s results far outshine those at Yahoo over and over again. Yahoo is actually much better suited to display advertising. But by all means, if you have a large enough marketing budget, put some money into both – building brands is always a good thing if you can aford it. MSN of course can possibly help, simply because of the eyeballs it reaches, but when dealing with percentages, most of my clients find the most success with Google.


How Big A Budget?

It’s also about having the ability to devote enough budget. For example, if you have less than $500 a month or $1,000 a month, or $5,000 a month, depending on the cost per click, if the daily portion gets used up early in the day, that means your ads may not be seen by the vast majority of people who might actually be your best prospects. So then you have to address that.

If your offering is geographically located, and you are trying to reach a specific market on the physical map, you’ll need to also work in geo-location techniques for more refined targeting.

Then there’s the issue of needing to be able to stay with it long enough to experiment with variations on phrases, variations on ad copy…


It’s as much an art as a science.


Determining success

Having the conversion code from Google or Yahoo on your site – on the confirmation page or the thank you for contacting us page is really one of the only ways to know what the ultimate cost is per conversion.

Having a site visitor trending solution such as Google Analytics on your site is also paramount to helping you refine things along the way as well. And you can tie Google Analytics in with conversion tracking for even more clarity.


Combine PPC and Organic for Best Results

On a final note, the absolute best success comes when you have PPC ads AND you rank very high on the first page of Google or Yahoo. People conducting a search that see your ad in both the sponsored area and organic listings does a great deal to build your brand identity and motivate more people to click on either based on whether they don’t mind clicking on a sponsored ad or they only click on organic listings…

It’s definitely possible to find success with enough footwork, but also only if once someone gets to your web site they stay and are drawn into your actual product or service offerings!

About Alan Bleiweiss

Just another guy. Who happens to have a lot of experience living, breathing and sleeping organic SEO. So that's my primary focus - high end SEO audits and consulting for sites ranging from thousands to tens of millions of pages. In my spare time I blog, rant, write eBooks, and speak at industry conferences.

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