Competing with Google for Ad Space

In my opinion, PPC still has its place in the grand scheme of things when it comes to online marketing. Personally, I’ve found that PPC campaigns are great for branded keywords because it helps minimize the risks and costs that many site owners deal with. Not so long ago, SEO keywords would only cost $1 a click. That was a completely reasonable cost and I happily paid it, especially to help get Brick Marketing some national exposure. However, those same keywords are now costing me $12-$15 per click! Suddenly PPC is not as cost effective as it used to be. And what’s more, the average searcher is getting much smarter. They know the difference between an organic listing and a paid listing, and they understand a little of the game that goes into getting a PPC ad at the top of the first page. Just because your ad is positioned first, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the right site for them.

I prefer to use PPC ads for branded keywords because I know that someone searching for my company directly is much more likely to do business with me than someone searching for “SEO.” I want my PPC ads to connect with potential customers that are further along in their buying cycle so I have a better chance at conversion.

A few weeks ago I was working with an SEO consulting client and was explaining how local SEO works. As an example, I did a search for “Boston SEO,” one of the keywords I target in both my PPC campaigns and with our organic SEO. While I was working with this client, I couldn’t help but notice that the first ad in the right hand column wasn’t for a Boston SEO company, it was an ad for Google AdWords! I didn’t point it out to my consulting client, but once our session was over I researched for “Boston SEO” and sure enough, there was Google at the top of their own ads!

Now, if it wasn’t for Google, there wouldn’t be a thing called SEO and I wouldn’t have a job. For that I am eternally grateful to Google. But just because you love someone that doesn’t mean you have to like them all the time! Am I really being forced to compete with Google for ad space positioning? At the risk of sounding a little whiny, I don’t think that’s entirely fair. AdWords is a Google product, but do they really need to be advertising on such specific keywords like “Boston SEO”? First and foremost, a PPC campaign and an SEO campaign are not the same thing, so targeting “SEO” when they are selling PPC services doesn’t really make sense. That would be like me targeting “apples” on a page about “bananas.” They are both fruits, but they are not the same thing.

For the record, I did a quick search for “online ads” and an ad (in the same spot as it was for Boston SEO” popped up for AdWords. I have less of a problem with this, since AdWords is selling online advertising space, but at the same time I can’t help but wonder; does Google really need to be advertising AdWords in the first place? I can’t imagine that AdWords is hurting for business. Even if people have cut back on their PPC budgets, I know of very few site owners that have abandoned it completely.

I can appreciate that it’s Google’s product and Google’s search engine, so they can pretty much do whatever they want, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Are there any other site owners who have noticed a similar issue with their PPC campaigns? Are you competing with Google for ad space? Or is this mostly an issue for SEO, PPC and online marketing related keywords?

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