Paid Search Engine PlacementI probably don’t have to tell you at this point about the importance of search engine placement of your website for the success of your business or book. Search engine optimization takes time. It could be months before you begin to see results. Depending on the amount of competition you have, it could be difficult to achieve top placement.

If you want to guarantee top placement immediately, pay-per-click advertising is the way to go. Many businesses use a combination of paid placement and SEO strategies to make sure all bases are covered.

Paid or sponsored ads show up at the top of search results and along the right sidebar. When you have a paid ad and your site achieves top placement through SEO efforts, your site will show up several times on the first page, which dramatically improves the chances of reeling in new site visitors.

How It Works 

Pay-per-click ads allow you to bid on keywords and phrases by indicating how much you are willing to pay for each click-through to your site. Bids can start as low as $0.10 each for keyword phrases with very little competition. Popular keyword phrases can cost as much as several dollars per click if there is a significant amount of bidding competition.

For example, you could create an ad campaign for the keyword phrase “personal chef Tampa.” If there was little or no competition for this key phrase, your cost would be just a few cents per click. If there were many bidders competing for that phrase, each click could cost you $0.50, $1, or more.

Managing Costs and Converting Clicks 

The biggest challenges with this type of advertising come from managing costs and converting clicks into customers. As with any marketing investment, the goal is to make the cost of services pay for itself.

So if you bid $0.50 per click and 100 visitors click through to your site, your total cost would be $50. Ideally, you want to convert a high percentage of visitors into paying customers. Even if just 2% of your visitors were to make an appointment with you or an online purchase, then the $50 investment would probably be worthwhile for you.

To determine what each customer is worth to you, calculate your average transaction amount (the average sale for a customer at your business) and multiply that by the average number of times a customer spends money with you in a year. The total will be the amount that each new customer is worth to you.


Average Transaction Fee:                   $  50

Average Transactions Per Year:          x   3

Total Annual Value:                $150

You also have to factor in customer retention. If your customers stay with you for years, the value could be higher. If your customers return just one time, the value could be lower.

Regardless of your budget, none of this will work if you aren’t converting site visitors into customers. Remember, when someone visits your website, it should inspire that person to take action.

Note that you can set a daily and/or monthly budget amount for your ads so that you can control how much you invest in ad testing. I recommend testing paid ads with a budget of $100 or more. Give it some time to see if it is effective.

Another thing to consider is that the effectiveness of your pay-per-click ads will depend on whether or not visitors are actually clicking on your ads to begin with. You get a very small amount of space to entice visitors—as few as 25 words—so every word counts. It’s a good idea to test different ad copy to see what draws the most response. 

Tracking the Results 

Determining the success of your pay-per-click campaigns can be measured in a number of ways. Some website owners create special landing pages on their sites for ad-generated traffic. That landing page could have a special code, scheduling tool, or phone number that visitors call to schedule an appointment. You could do something similar for online purchases of gift certificates so that you know when these sales are generated from your ads.

You could also make it part of your standard practice to ask callers how they heard about your business, though this isn’t going to be a very accurate measure. It’s unlikely that site visitors will know whether or not they clicked on an ad or found your site through an organic search (due to your search engine optimization efforts). Of course, Google will report how many clicks your ad receives based on the budget you set, so you need to find a way to measure conversion rates.

Getting Help with Pay-Per-Click Advertising 

There are service providers who specialize in managing paid search engine placement campaigns. Though you will pay a fee for the luxury of having someone manage this process for you, there can be some big advantages.

These companies should be optimizing your ads on an ongoing basis, producing reports, and evaluating the effectiveness of your ad campaigns. If you have several ads running, a good service provider should be analyzing which ads are doing well and which ads aren’t working, and adjusting your ads accordingly.

Your web designer may offer these services or be able to refer you to someone who does. You can also check with your chamber of commerce or ask around for a local referral. Because this can all be done virtually, you can hire a service provider located anywhere in the country.

I also suggest that you check contracts carefully and make sure that there is no long-term commitment. Many providers offer services on a month-to-month basis so if someone tries to lock you in to a long-term contract, find another provider.

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