This Contractortalk.com thread explores the strengths and limitations of pay-per-click advertising. Earlier, I reported that the “good old days” of PPC have disappeared and early adaptors who had enjoyed windfall sales at truly low costs were now finding it increasingly difficult to make money with Google AdWords and similar PPC systems. These thoughts are generally echoed in the the contractortalk.com postings.
However, there are exceptions and these are the opinions which indicate that PPC can still offer some valid opportunities if you work the system correctly. As I research this aspect more closely there seem to be two routes: The Do-It-Yourself and the agency option. If you aren’t careful, you can quickly blow through hundreds of dollars in fees if you rely on Google’s default settings — but at least you can quickly turn things off if they aren’t working. Alternatively, with the agency solution, you have the difficulty of knowing and trusting the person who is representing you. The challenge can be especially difficult if the agency uses commissioned sales reps because you are then not only paying the cost of the PPC but also the sales and admin costs of the agency, which has a vested interest in getting you to spend as much as possible (though the ethical agencies will always respect your need for return-on-investment.)
The best answer, I believe, is to either go big or go cheap (Do-It-Yourself). If you wish to go big, really check the recommendations of the potential agency with actual users not provided by the agency and ensure you aren’t tied to long-term contracts (but be ready to give the agency a fair opportunity to succeed.) Most importantly, I still recommend you spend enough time understanding the process and systems with a little DIY effort if only to understand what is in the agency’s black box.
OK, let’s look at some of the contractortalk.com postings for some additional insights.
Sportioli, whose profile associates him with BestPro Painters in Louisville KY, writes:
I bid on keyword phrases now. And only keyword phrases. Currently I’m bidding on somewhere within the neighborhood of 300 of them.
And! I bid on exactly searched phrases. No variations. The exactly quoted phrase is where it’s at.
When I first jumped into the fray with PPC ads on Google doing the keyword thing, I came home after a few hours and noticed where I had already spent 100 bucks…. HA!
If I were to bid on a keyword… Say like “painters” I’d get a butt load of clicks from all over the world, and pay a fortune. That’s an expensive word and highly competed for apparently.
But if I bid on the exact phrase “painters Louisville” and go into my geographical settings and set it for east Louisville KY.. I get seen by only people in eastern Louisville KY (they have money) that Google the exact phrase “painters Louisville”.
Or “Commercial Painters Louisville” or “Interior Painters Louisville”
It’s like this.. I don’t want people 30 miles away in Etown KY clicking on my ads. I don’t go there to paint, so why do I want the potential for someone in that town clicking my ad and costing me a precious nickel. I don’t!
Here’s another tidbit. Go to your website… See exactly what your pages are named… And make an ad group that exact same name, then do a bunch of keyword phrase bidding around that page and ad. Always bracket your keyword phrases so that only that exact quote gets a hit.
Stop and think….. How many other painters in my city are competing for that exact same phrase in that exact same demographic? I don’t know, but I’d bet it’s very few. I do know this though, it’s few enough that I come up all the time for my low low bids
If you spend some time looking over Google’s PPC features you’ll find that keyword phrases are where it’s at. You will spend a fortune if you’re going after single keywords. And you’ll spend a fortune if your not exercising your demographic controls…. And I mean fine tune your demographic controls too. Don’t just set if for you city.
My max bill for a given month this year was never over 6 dollars and I come up for everything painting related in googles bar on the right hand side of SERPS here in Louisville. Sometimes I’m even at the top in the pink ones
Spend some time with it. You’ll find that everything I’ve told you is true.
Here it is in it’s most basic form
1) only use keyword phrases [bracket them like this] so only the exact phrase is hit on.
2) Start ad groups named after your websites main pages. Link them to your pages, I swear it makes them come up higher in Google’s organic returns. Google likes themselves really well. It’s like their bots look across the web and know that that page has a Google AdWords campaign going on of the same name with a back link to that given page
3) Set your demographics tight.
4) Bid low on your newly chosen keyword phrases and go higher if you need to.
5) Set your monthly expenditure to cut off at $50 in case you don’t follow these directions properly.
Come back here and let us know how it goes.
Meanwhile, marketing consultant Roger Plummer at Outrank in Austin, TX, writes:
Well, PPC overall can work if you have a budget set high enough to convert clicks over to phone calls. This is where most SMB’s fail. They try things out with budgets that are too small to see a result with PPC. I have talked to many contractors that have gotten a result with PPC but the budget needs to be in the neighborhood of $400-$750/mo.
Right now, there is legislation being passed becuase the issues with PPC services however. PPC is riddled with stories of what’s called “click fraud.” Basically, a competitor or even the company that is managing the business PPC campaign purposefully clicking on someone’s ad to cost them money.
PPC campaigns biggest faults IMO are that they are inconsistent, it’s difficult to gage your ROI, managing the campaign can be too difficult for the common business owner, and that the exposure is extremely limited.
PPC’s inconsitency revolves around the fact that anytime someone does a search, the PPC results change. So you may be the top PPC ad on one search and then be completely off the page in the next. When you bid on keywords, if someone outbids you the PPC manager is going to move the highest bidder to the top.
To really get an understanding for PPC, you have to understand the intent most of the time is to get the phone to ring. That being the case, PPC whole premise is to charge you for someone else CLICKING on your site not actually calling you. So it’s important for the business owner to understand that you must have concrete statistics on what the % of clicks:calls is! I think the guy that started this thread mentioned it and he has a great point in the fact that if you are paying $5 for a click, it didn’t necessarily relate to a call! So you could have been clicked on by accident, or by a competitor but guess what… you just payed $5 for it no matter what the result was. And even so, as a business owner, all you want is your phone to ring but even if it does… it doesn’t mean that EVERY person that calls you is going to say, “Hey get over here an do this room addition right now!” So as far as paying per call, it doesn’t even make that much sense to me.
Overall, a business owner must have the knowledge of the keywords that are going to give the best result. THIS IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF PPC. How does the common business owner know which words are going to be the most relevant and return the biggest bang for the buck? It’s far too difficult to really decifer without paying a PPC company to do it.
Finally, PPC exposure is extremely limited. What I mean by that is so simple, it’s ridiculous and sometimes when I mention it I even laugh a little. Think about when YOU DO A SEARCH. It could be for anything, how often do you actually click on the sponsored links? Think about it from the clients perspective… THEY KNOW YOU ARE JUST PAYING TO BE THERE. Google is very smart and if it didn’t work, Google would be out of buisness but most business owners just don’t have the budgets to make it work.
Here are some stats that tell the overall story of PPC IMO:
- 85% of searchers don’t click on paid links
- 77% of search users choose organic over paid listing when searching
- 40% of SEO campaigns achieve ROI returns in excess of 500%, while only 22% of PPC campaigns were able to achieve this value
- Organic search results are 8.5x more likely to be clicked on than paid search results.
- Over the last year, Pay-per-click (PPC) costs have grown 37 per cent and they are continuing to rise.
While like I said PPC can give you a return, typically you will always have more success in Local and Organic Results.
Finally, lets look at this post from Heritage, associated with Nostco Construction in Toronto, Canada.
I had a campaign going for about 3 months.
I dumped around $500/month on it.
Maybe 20 phone calls from “SEO“/Web guys claiming they saw my ad & want to get me 1st page organic.
Nice…click on my ad, make me pay $2.00…for the privelege of being spammed/telemarketed. Nice.
A few other people selling their services.
Probably around 15 inquiries. 0 sold jobs. Just tire kickers kicking tires cuz that’s what a tire kickin tire kicker does!
Tire kickers…spammers/telemarketers & click fraudsters…Thank you No thank you. $1500…learned my lesson. Can’t say I never tried it…you only live once
Put my money into SEO, now I’m 1st pg. ORGANIC up in this muhuhugga!
The more I research and live within the Internet spaces, the more I appreciate that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer but you should be wary of anyone who offers you a fast, easy, quick and instantly successful solution, unless you are satisfied the person has no axe to grind or service to sell. You can often validate your opinions with peers in relevant trade associations or review the observations in forums such as contractortalk.com or remodelcrazy.com.
If you are wondering, our business obtains a tiny portion of its income from PPC advertising fees — the great majority of revenue still arises from conventional print media. However, the Internet and time on this blog is certainly a rewarding investment though I measure my hosting and relevant Internet service support costs in the hundreds rather than thousands of dollars a month. In other words, I’ve taken the DIY approach, and it works for me. But other businesses certainly have been able to earn lucrative sums by going all out on their websites, SEO and PPC advertising.