Three more things about pay-per-click search advertising

A reader got in touch yesterday and said that what I described was exactly what he needed to explain at the next management meeting. So while I’m on a roll, here are three more things which it’s worth explaining to colleagues who don’t really get pay-per-click search advertising. Once these concepts have sunk in, they’ll also understand that you do know more than them about the subject, and that perhaps you probably don’t need their well-meaning help.

1. Pay-per-click advertising is not speculative, like traditional advertising

Think of it simply as buying visits to your website. It’s not a lottery like conventional advertising. You spend more money, you get more visits. There is an upper limit, but it’s probably beyond what most companies are willing to spend. If 100 extra visitors to your website is profitable, then 200 extra visitors will be worth spending twice as much on.

2. The only measure which counts is ROI

How much money did you spend on your pay-per-click search advertising? And what did you get for it, in terms of website visitors, enquiries or sales? Nothing else matters. Not the top 10 keywords. Not the change in clickthrough rate. These are in-process measurements used to refine the output from the machine. There’s no place for them in management reports.

3. Your ads don’t need to be at the top of the page

Ads can appear in the 1–4 slots above the natural search results, or in 1–4 slots below them. The position on the page of your advert depends on how high you’re prepared to bid. But your cost will increase exponentially as you raise the bid, because you’ll appear more frequently and higher up the page. So a low bid of 50p might see your advert show low down the page, and infrequently, maybe giving you 1 click per day. Total cost? 50p. A high bid of £5 might see your advert show high up the page, and more frequently too, maybe giving you 100 clicks per day. Total cost? £500! So it’s a tradeoff; the best bids are normally in the middle, unless you’re really trying to make a branding statement and you’ve got the budget to do so.

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