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Is PPC Search Advertising Worth It?

With pricey click through rates for major search terms and an abundance of great alternatives, does it make sense for professional service firms to continue their PPC search advertising campaigns?
First of all, let’s acknowledge that we’re talking about Google search advertising. If you never click on ads and think that your behavior extends to the rest of humanity, guess again. Google Search PPC generates billions of dollars for the software giant every year.
There’s no denying that search advertising does draw traffic to your site. It supplements what’s increasingly difficult to accomplish, namely top organic searches in Google. So if you’re unable to get to the first page in Google and want some representation there, search ads can help.
However, the cost of search ads is more expensive than most banner-based advertising, or display ads. When compared to display ad opportunities on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even alternatives on Google itself, PPC search advertising can result in very high cost per lead.
Display ads are surfaced when web or mobile users are going about their day to day activities – reading news, looking for information, checking their social networks, etc. They do not target individual searches, so you’re casting a much wider net. But the wider net increases your brand awareness and, if you’re clever, can drive more traffic to your site.
Display ads therefore have a lot of potential, since you can get a lot more impressions and a lot more clicks for your money. However, in order for this strategy to work, you need to have some fundamentals in place: strong ads with well-crafted calls to action and lead conversion strategies and landing pages for those ads.
Search clickers are looking for specific information. These visitors allow you to be a little lazy, because your goal there is just to get them to your website and hope the information you post can take it from there. However, with the shotgun approach of banner ads, you can’t rely on bringing visitors to your website and hope that the information on your site leads them to take action. You need to have a landing page infrastructure and have a core strategy in place to convert display ad visitors to leads.
Search advertising should be part of an overall online ad strategy. But if it constitutes all or the majority of your online ad spend, then you should look to differentiate your efforts. It might take some work to put the other ingredients in place for stronger display ads, but you’ll end up driving down your cost per lead and in the end have a less risky and more productive advertising strategy.