As anyone who uses Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising in their marketing campaign knows, getting your ad copy on the front page of a search results listing is becoming more expensive by the day. It's a new phenomenon known as 'keyword fatigue', and it's down to the overwhelming success of programs like Google's AdWords. As more and more advertisers realise the benefits of this form of traffic generation, so the number of people bidding for the same keywords increases, and the bid prices climb accordingly. Great news if you are a publisher taking a cut of the revenue, but not so welcome for those doing the bidding.
So are the days of 5 cents a click now just a distant memory? Not at all, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of keyword phrases out there for minimum cost, all it takes is a little more effort to use them. To understand how this can be done, with Google AdWords in particular, it is first necessary to understand how ad positions are determined.
Google's PPC program, like their core search engine, places a great deal of emphasis on advertisment relevance. When a web surfer types keywords into the search box, Google wants the ad that most closely matches that phrase to be shown nearest the top of the list - not just the ad bidding the highest amount of money. It mutiplies bid price by keyword relevance, and that means that by careful selection of your keywords, it is possible to be placed above competitors and pay only 1 cent more than they are (Google doesn't necessarily charge the maxium amount you bid, only enough to put you ahead).
There are three simple ways you can trump your competitors with your keyword selection:
1. Longer phrases. There are huge numbers of people bidding on a loose term like "mortgage broker", but fewer people bidding on a tighter phrase like "mortgage broker in texas". If a searcher types "mortgage broker in texas" into Google, and you have that phrase in your keyword list, your ad will be deemed more relevant than anyone just using "mortgage broker" in their own list - which means a cheaper click for you! Of course, there are fewer searches for mortgage brokers specifically in Texas than for mortgage brokers in general, so it's necessary to build a large list of similar keyphrases targetting many locations.
2. Closer matching. Just because you might type "in car satellite radio" into Google, doesn't mean every surfer will do the same. Somebody else searching for the same thing may well enter "satellite radio in car", or "radio in car satellite", and so on. If your ad contains every variation, it may trump a competing ad which lists only the first example. In other words, having just the keywords in your list isn't necessarily enough - having them in the same order a searcher enters them will give your ad a better relevance score.
3. The final (Google specific) method is to ensure that you wrap every keyword or keyphrase in both quotes and brackets. Again, this means that if someone enters an exact term you have listed, your ad will beat a competing ad that has the same term but without the brackets or quotes.
Clearly, building keyword lists in this way can be more time consuming than simply selecting a few generic words that describe your product or service, but free tools such as those at http://www.keyword-linker.com can make the process much quicker than doing it manually.
Cheap keyphrases are still there for the taking, the winners in PPC now will be those who put in the effort to catch them.
About The Author
Henry Eldridge-Doyle is an internet marketeer, and site developer at http://www.keyword-toolkit.com.