What is pay-per-click (PPC) marketing?

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a method of bringing visitors to your website by using an advertisement that you only pay for when someone clicks through to visit your site. At the very root of pay-per-click marketing are keywords, also known as search terms. By choosing the proper keywords you will make sure your advertisements match your target market. You can even target the time of day your ad runs, the country, region, city and for how long the ad runs.

Pay-per-click vs. natural (organic) search

Pay-per-click advertising versus natural (organic) search marketing is a highly debated subject. Disappointingly, we’ve learned over the years that which side of the debate you’re on usually coincides with a company’s interests…and truth be told, very few companies have experience with natural search engine marketing, so they concentrate on pay-per-click marketing.

Internet statistics show that 70-80% of all searches are done naturally, meaning visitors choose a non-paid site. So if you want to get the most out of your web site you need to hire a strong SEO company that can get you in the top ten on Google. But that being said, are you willing to give up 30% of the business by not doing pay-per-click marketing. We wouldn’t recommend it!

There’s a critical difference between local & national search

Due to the exponential growth of the web, the process of gaining and maintaining high rankings on any given search engine is becoming incredibly challenging for everyone, but for the smaller local business it’s becoming a daunting task. Quite simply, there’s just not enough room on the first page of the search engine results for everyone, and inevitably, the first to be frozen out are the small local businesses. For small businesses, facing their industry’s big names in the search engines can be a no-win situation. But the truth is, many small businesses bring failure upon themselves by not distinguishing between “local” and “national” search engine optimization (SEO).

Local SEO is almost identical to national SEO, but with one notable and critical difference. The keywords and content (images and information) are geographically specific. While national SEO focuses on broad keywords, such as “Electricians”, local SEO uses local modifiers: “Electricians, Minneapolis, MN. And while the traffic will be lower in local SEO campaigns, they will pull in more qualified prospects. After all, an electrician in Boston is of no use to a customer in Minneapolis. Optimizing locally also helps to build local relationships. In his 2008 book “The Complete SEO Copywriting Guide for Search Engine Rankings and Sales Conversion – Content Rich”, Jon Wuebben estimates that every month a billion local searches are made, and that’s growing at a rate of 20-30% every year.

Thanks to recent algorithmic changes by Google, the likelihood of locals finding you when they type in “Your Trade, Your Town” is now much higher. Nobody really knows precisely what Google has done, or is currently doing for that matter – but what we do know, however, is

that Google is increasingly placing much more emphasis on local and geographical searches. It has even been rumored that soon, users will be able to search Google within their own geographic parameters. So by modifying their sites to target local keyword phrases, local businesses will undoubtedly see significant improvement in their search engine placement – especially as local or geographic keyword phrases have much less competition anyway.

If you are a business that gets most of its customers from the local market, yet are still relying on broad-stroke, national SEO techniques to get you high up in the search engines, then you are risking your website disappearing into the depths of the internet altogether.

The 5 advantages of a Pay-per-click campaign

  • 1. Immediate results
  • Setup, research and implementation of a PPC campaign can be done in a matter of days. And with an experienced PPC professional, you can be at the top of Google in a matter of weeks – sometimes days.
  • 2. Ability to test
  • You can easily test different keywords, phrases and web content to see which generates the most clicks and conversions.

  • 3. Affordable for small businesses
  • PPC can create a more level playing field for small and large businesses. You can control your budget day-to-day, and not have to commit to a large long-term budget. Focusing on a targeted audience
  • PPC gives you the ability to target a specific audience using keywords, as well as target specific areas or demographics. Your visitors are pre-qualified before they ever click on your advertisement!
  • 4. Real-time tracking
  • You can easily track the effectiveness of specific keywords and phrases and change them any time you want.
  • 5. Getting the top spot in PPC doesn’t always go to the highest bidder
  • This is one of the most misunderstood concepts regarding pay-per-click campaigns on Google. On Google it’s not just about paying the highest price per click. Google would rather make $1.00 a click on 1,000 clicks, then $5.00 on 50 clicks. Why? They make more money on the 1,000 clicks at a buck, then they do on the 50 clicks for $5.00
  • Google’s PPC program is not just a keyword auction like it is on Yahoo and Bing. With Yahoo and Bing the highest bidder will get the top spot–not so with Google. They want the most relevant site to be at the top. Why? Because they know that the most relevant site will be clicked on the most, and people will spend the most time on those sites. So it’s a win-win situation; a win for Google because they’ll make more money with more clicks, and a win for the person doing the search, because they will end up on the most relevant site.
  • You’d be surprised how many visitors still don’t know the difference between PPC and natural search–so they click on the first link they see on the top of the page on Google. This can be a huge win for small regional or local companies, allowing them to appear as the top company in their industry. As visitors become more sophisticated, this is slowing changing. But for now there is a huge opportunity to take advantage of for the millions and millions of people being introduced to the internet every day.

Can I do PPC myself?

Yes. Just like you could roof your own house, re-build your car engine, or build your own computer network for your business. You could do it, but do you have the time or expertise to pull it off? Obviously there is more to a PPC campaign than calling Google and paying the highest bid for your keywords. If that was possible, everyone would be doing it.

Creating a successful PPC campaign could mean the difference between a successful web site and one that loses money. Pay-per-click campaigns need to be managed on a daily, sometime hourly basis. And remember it’s not just the highest bid that gets the top spots. An experienced pay-per-click consultant can generate leads that far outweigth the cost of managing the campaign.

Isn’t obtaining the top PPC spot on Google prohibitively expensive?

The answer is surprisingly no! Of course it depends on the industry you are in, the keywords you choose and if you’re marketing locally or nationally. But we’ve found that local businesses usually are surprised at how cost effective PPC truly is.

How much are you spending per lead right now? Are you spending your marketing dollars on Yellow Pages, newspaper, radio, TV or direct marketing? If you are, then you will be happy to know that pay-per-click campaigns can dramatically reduce your lead costs. Small businesses often don’t realize that they can create a PPC campaign around their keywords, add their area, city or state, and affordably reach their target market.

An example is a company who is one of the top CPA Firms in the Twin Cities. Their main form of advertising was Yellow Pages. When their site was re-built his and optimized, they experienced a large increase in leads…and more importantly, those leads were 50-75% cheaper. If a PPC campaign were created for them using the key words “tax preparation” the cost-per-click would be very expensive because of the competition on the web for these services.  But if the keywords were changed to “tax preparation St Paul” or “tax preparation Edina”, the PPC campaign would be considerably cheaper…and much more targeted.