myths about pay-per-click marketing

Myths about PPC (pay per click advertising) abound. I’ve heard almost all of them in the last nine years – and in some cases, at some points, the myths may have been true.  As of 2014, though, each of these myths has no basis in fact and needs to be eliminated from the thought processes of all small business owners.  Pay per click, in most cases, can be a highly viable marketing platform and it’s dynamic nature allows advertisers to keep pace with the way customers use the internet and use search engines.   

Common PPC Myths and Misconceptions

Myth: PPC affects my organic position.

False. It has nothing to do with your organic ranking. At all.  There is literally no correlation whatsoever. Consider this patently false.

Myth: No one clicks on PPC ads.

This is also patently untrue.  A series of surveys of internet users has demonstrated that between 45 and 55% of internet users can’t even discern the difference between ads and organic listings.  And great, relevant ad copy can counter even the most prejudiced internet user.  PPC advertising is as viable as ever, perhaps more so now that AdWords and BingAds content guidelines have kept pace to keep up with fraudulent advertisers and eliminate and punish poor quality advertisers.

Myth: With PPC you don’t see results because of bad, fraudulent clicks.

To all those who say that PPC is just Google wasting their money or that all their clicks are fraudulent are simply not leveraging PPC effectively. “Google” doesn’t care about your money. They don’t need it. If you aren’t seeing results, it is typically the result of one of two issues. 1) the account is structured poorly or poorly built (which should be easy to see through the click metrics and quality score), or 2) your website isn’t compelling (which should be visible through the conversion rate).  Either way, there are metrics you can track to determine what the issue is.  Furthermore, click fraud is corrected by the algorithm, in most cases, and though there can definitely be extenuating circumstances with click fraud, it isn’t nearly as prevalent as it used to be.

Myth: The more you spend the better you rank.

No. Now, with a bigger budget, you can generate click data and conversion data more quickly than with  a small budget, which in turn can inform your optimization decisions. That’s definitely true.  A big budget might also allow you to bid higher for your keywords, which can give you positional preference. However, this idea doesn’t factor in quality score, the score Google assigns your keywords on a scale of 1-10 determining the relevance of your ad, keywords, and landing pages to each other.  When clients ask me if it’s an auction based system, my answer is always “sort of.” In a typical auction, the highest bidder wins. In an AdWords auction, the highest bidder wins, subject to quality score factors and ad rank. An advertiser with a great quality score, say a 9, bidding $2/click and average a click through rate of 4%, might be in a position higher than a competitor with a quality score of 3, bidding $3.50/click and averaging a click through rate of 0.5%.

Myth:  Through the interface, I can tell what competitors are paying. Or what keywords they’re bidding on. Or what their performance is.  Or how many searchers in a specific city are looking for a topic.

For some of these, there are various tools that can approximate these answers, but we cannot get accurate numbers on these things.  If you want to know how many people in Nashville searched for a plumber in the month of May, we can make pretty decent estimates if you have enough experience, supplemental tools, and knowledge about the area.  We cannot tell you that 303,485 people searched that term in that location in that window, or that your top competitor is bidding $9/click across their ad groups, or that they’re averaging a click through rate of 2.1%.  This information is simply not available to that level of detail.  However, there are tools at our disposal (some free) that allow you to approximate, estimate, or make good guesses about what your competitors and customers are doing.

So consider these myths BUSTED.

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