Posted Monday, September 20, 2004
In past issues, I've discussed the pro's and con's of advertising on PPC engines like Overture, FindWhat, Sprinks, and others. I've mentioned how Overture has the advantage of offering you the most traffic for your positions. However, you'll often pay more for the same keyword position on Overture than you will on nearly any of its competitors. In some cases, you will pay two or three fold more on Overture versus the same positions on less popular PPC's like Sprinks or Ah-Ha.com.
So why do people continue bidding on Overture when you can buy the same position elsewhere for less? Part of it comes down to the hidden cost of PPC's: The time to manage your listings versus the traffic they can bring you. Some PPC's offer only a fraction of the traffic that Overture commands. However, if you combine the half dozen or more "second-tier" PPC's, they can drive even more traffic to your site than Overture does. However, you may have to spend six times more work to secure and manage those listings since each PPC has their own bid manager interface.
What makes matters worse is that the most popular keywords tend to cost the most and produce the least targeted audience. You'll convert a higher percentage of visitors to sales when you bid on keyword phrases that are very specific to your Web site. Unfortunately, the more specific you are, the fewer people who search for that particular keyword. This problem can be counter-acted by bidding on large numbers of focused phrases that people search for. As I've mentioned in the past, the WordTracker service (http://www.wordtracker.com/freetrial.htm) can help you in finding the best words and phrases to target.
You can make the most money per visitor by bidding on higher numbers of FOCUSED keyword phrases on the half dozen or more smaller PPC's. The problem comes from trying to allocate the time to manage all these extra placements. For example, you could bid 20 cents to secure a top position on a certain keyword currently topping out at 19 cents. Quite often the bid below you will eventually drop out leaving what is called a bid gap. If this gap is more than 1 cent, you are paying too much for that position!
Often times the bid gap can be significant, particularly if you don't notice it for a while. Ideally the PPC engine itself would inform you of the gap and automatically lower your bid to be one cent above the bid below you. That would save you money, but it would cost the engine money. Consequently, most PPC engines are reluctant to offer a feature that costs them money.
The professionals, and increasingly, new search engine marketers are taking advantage of one of the many PPC bid management services available. Nearly all of these services will report bid gaps to you. In fact, WebPosition will track your rankings and by reviewing the Detail reports, you can spot bid gaps. A few bid management services will not only report bid gaps, but will automatically reduce your bid the same day the gap occurs, saving you money.
Some of these PPC managers allow you to setup a link to your accounts at all the major PPC's like Overture, Sprinks, FindWhat, etc. You can then control all your bids through a single integrated interface. That way if you decide that a certain keyword phrase is not working for you, press a single button and eliminate it on ten or more PPC engines. In the same way, rather than manually adding a new keyword to ten different PPC's, you can enter it just once in the PPC manager. The PPC manager will log into each account you have at each PPC engine and update your settings as needed.
If you manage more than a handful of keywords, a good PPC manager can pay for itself quickly in time-saved and in the money saved through automated bid gap management. We spent the last few months trying different PPC managers. We found that many offer bid gap reporting only. Bid gap reporting is nice, but we found that it quickly becomes tedious and impractical to log on and lower your bid by a few cents in dozens of different places each day. We all have better ways to spend our time.
The PPC managers that include fully automated bid management often support only a few of the major PPC's. Since the greatest value comes from efficiently combining bids across an array of less popular, yet far less expensive PPC's, we eliminated these PPC managers from our consideration. We reviewed the remaining candidates and eventually chose ClickPatrol for offering the best quality and feature-rich service for the money.
We now use ClickPatrol for our own PPC management. In addition, after choosing the service we liked the best, we approached ClickPatrol and negotiated a 10% perpetual discount for all WebPosition customers and MarketPosition subscribers. Ten-percent may not sound like a huge discount, but since ClickPatrol is a monthly subscription service, it can certainly add up over time.
ClickPatrol offers a free trial so you can decide for yourself if they are worth the money. To receive the 10% discount when you purchase, you'll need to sign-up through the link below:
(Note: The pricing on their site reflects their regular pricing before the discount is applied).
Let us know what you think about ClickPatrol, good or bad! Our ongoing goal is to pass on tips, techniques, and advice to improve your visibility on the search engines. We want to review and recommend only the best tools and services available to help you succeed.
If we learn of a great new service or optimization technique, we want to pass that on to you through this newsletter, or through WebPosition. On the flip side, we aren't afraid to give it to you straight if something is not a good deal (i.e., LookSmart's recent "draconian" business practices).
About the Author
Robin Nobles is the Director of Training of the Academy of Web Specialists, which teaches online training in search engine marketing. She is also a trainer with Search Engine Workshops, which presents on location workshops in search engine marketing at various locations across the country. Please visit our site for more information about online training and other resources.