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Let's face it: The costs of pay-per-click advertising on search engines continue to climb. These days, your competitors can include fellow entrepreneurs, large corporations, shopping sites, affiliates and ad publishers. With so many competitors, is pay-per-click worth it anymore? Yes--but you need a smarter search strategy. Here are five ways to reduce your costs while reaching new customers.
1. Diversify. Google AdWords isn't the only PPC player in town. Try Yahoo! Sponsored Search and Microsoft Live Search. Also test PPC on directories like Business.com and SuperPages.com, as well as shopping sites like Shopping.com. These sites might not deliver as many clicks as Google, but competitive keywords can cost a lot less per click.
2. Go local. To cut PPC costs on popular search engines, target a local audience. First, bid on regional keywords. For instance, bid on "scrapbook store Chicago" instead of "scrapbook store." You can also use the search engines' geotargeting features to display your ads only to people who are located in specific cities, states or regions.
3. Find tail terms. Forget bidding on single words or broad phrases. Unless you're interested in branding benefits, these keywords usually aren't profitable. Bid on your "tail terms," which are low-cost, low-volume, supertargeted phrases.
4. Write prequalifying ads. Although this seems counterintuitive, it works. For example, you could use "CEOs" or "consultants" in your ad copy to qualify people before they click. You'll pay for less traffic while connecting with your ideal customers.
5. Optimize your landing pages. Get more of your current clicks to convert into customers. Test new copy and design elements on the web pages people land on after clicking your ads. Small changes can create big results.
You can't just throw more money at pay-per-click and hope it will bring you more business. Instead, try thinking "less traffic" to identify ways to cut PPC costs while reaching a highly targeted audience of shoppers online.Catherine Seda is an internet and search marketing expert. She's also a dean at LA College International (www.lac.edu). Get her "Top 10 Internet Marketing Mistakes" report at www.catherineseda.com.