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What You Don’t Understand About PPC

I love pay-per-click advertising. Weird, right? Over the last fifteen years, I’ve seen everything from the major platforms to the interface to advanced features change. It can work in just about every industry and can be a great tool to drive targeted traffic to a website. Unlike print media, TV and radio ads, and other forms of traditional advertising, you aren’t paying based on who COULD be seeing your website – you’re paying for people who actively visit your site. You’re paying for site visitors from customers that are engaged in the search process and want what you have to offer.

Despite the fact that PPC has been around in various iterations since about 1998 (or 2000, depending on who you believe), there are still so many misconceptions that abound – many of which we hear in our office every week. I wanted to share some of these myths and untruths that have been bouncing around since I started in the industry almost fifteen years ago to see if I can help mitigate the misinformation in PPC.

  • People don’t click on ads anymore. This is fundamentally untrue. I’ve seen statistics all over the web that dispute this fact – in fact, 45-55% of internet users can’t determine the difference between an ad and an organic listing. And the fact is, a great, relevant, engaging ad is going to receive clicks – even from someone who protests with “I never click on ads because they aren’t real.” A compelling ad will drive clicks.
  • Engaging a PPC agency is too expensive. Now, owning an agency that specializes in PPC means I’m more than nominally biased in this respect, but the fact is that a trained specialist will bring dramatically different returns that someone using AdWords Express just won’t be able to achieve. According to Wordstream, more than 95% of AdWords accounts do not include call extensions. A quality PPC agency would know to set those up, as they drive considerably more conversions. The value in receiving better traffic, more targeted traffic, more optimized traffic, and more measured conversions from that traffic will (typically) outweigh any additional management fees or agency costs.
  • Only my competitors are clicking on my ad because I’m not seeing any gains in my business. When I hear that, my first questions are always about whether they’re tracking conversions, phone calls, or site visits. 9 times out of 10, the answer is no. Without data to back it up, how do you know how effective it is? What if the site has a terrible user experience and a bounce rate in the mid-90 percent range?! Even the best PPC ad can’t convince a customer to buy if the site is a hot mess. Google and Bing have also worked hard to mitigate click fraud. This is almost never an issue for any of our customers.
  • The more I spend on PPC, the better my organic ranking will get. Ugh. I actually heard this today from a business associate. I started twitching because this kind of misinformation makes me actually a little crazy. PPC spend has NO BEARING whatsoever on your organic ranking. Period. Please don’t believe this.
  • Setting up an AdWords account is enough to be successful and drive leads. You cannot do a set-it-and-forget-it process with PPC. You have to optimize it consistently. You have to audit your account. If you’re using a PPC agency or have someone in-house managing your account, request a change history report and see what they’ve been doing on the account recently. No activity means no optimization.

Search is all about questions and answers. Searchers have a question, issue, problem, complaint, or need (the question). Businesses have a product, solution, or response to those questions (the answer). When they interact together in the search process with businesses providing the answers searchers need most in the time they need it, it presents a beautiful symbiosis that benefits everyone.

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