Can You Run Pay-Per-Click Ads Without Breaking the Piggy Bank?

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The original title for this post was going to be “Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising an Option if You Have a Zero Marketing Budget?” but let’s face it. . .  if you really have a zero marketing budget, it may be time to sit back and look at your overall business plan. Is it time to switch gears? Should you temporarily put your idea on hold and make some cash to invest in your dream? Can you afford to continue promoting and marketing your business the same way you’ve been doing since you started? Is it time to try pay-per-click (PPC) ads?

There are lots of ways to get the word out about your business/blog. Writing good content, optimizing your website for the search engines (SEO), commenting on blogs and participating in forums are just a few of the ways to build awareness and drive traffic to your website. You can also promote your business/blog by submitting your site and articles to directories, building back-links, building a following on social networking sites and let’s not forget guest-blogging – just to name a few. None of those activities are free. Your time isn’t free. Times spent on any one of those activities is time that could be spent doing something else – maybe something that would bring in money or possibly another opportunity that you’re missing out on.

So what about PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising? Is it something you should be thinking about? Is it something that you’ve tried before? (I’m really hoping for a healthy discussion in the comment section on this one because I know a lot of you have either thought about this or have experiences you can share.)

I’m certainly not an expert on PPC advertising or keyword research for that matter. But I have ventured into that world with a varying amount of success. I do believe that it is not a decision that should be automatically ruled out because you don’t think you can afford it. Can you afford not to?

PPC advertising does not have to be expensive but you do have to do it thoughtfully and you do have to keep track of your results. It’s easy to waste a lot of money very quickly if you’re not careful. It’s also quite possible to drive a lot of traffic to your website for a reasonable amount of money. You need to make sure that you’re driving the right traffic to the right place in your website and that you’re converting them to sales. (I never said this would be easy but it could be worth it.)

For starters, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Budget: You set a daily budget and you can limit the amount you want to spend monthly. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and goes to your website.
  • Target:  You can also set your targets. For example, if you’re offering a service in a specific geographic area, you can set up your ad so that it only appears to people within a certain number of miles from a specific zip code.
  • Search Engines: Although Google AdWords – (not to be confused with Google Adsense) is the search engine that most people think of for pay-per-click advertising, you should also consider advertising with Microsoft’s Bing or Yahoo.

This post is just intended to get you thinking about PPC ads. Lots of other things pop into my mind like landing-pages, long-tail keywords, buyer intent and tracking conversions. Let me know what you think. I’m sure I can ramble on a lot more about this subject in another post.

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Author: Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

41 thoughts on “Can You Run Pay-Per-Click Ads Without Breaking the Piggy Bank?”

  1. Hi,
    I have in my PPC advertising method. Because whenever i was start PPC ads which related to my business, I’m not earning as much i spend for ad. I don’t know why it goes.
    Can you help me to give some tips to gain more money from this PPC ads.
    Something i have problem in that. I m not able to find out that.

  2. Pay-Per-Click Ads is quite expensive because who have to invest but just be sure that you choose the right keywords and have have enough cash to run the campaign without realizing that your short of saving already. Be sure that you will have a good revenue out of the campaign you do.

    1. Hi Christina,
      PPC ads don’t have to be expensive. They can be very affordable and get you a great return on investment. You set the budget and the limits.

      Advertising on Bing can be much more affordable than advertising on Google and both Bing and Google usually offer great incentives to get you started (like $75 of free advertising). So, Bing is a good place to begin experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.

      Using negative keywords helps to keep the wrong people from clicking on your ads. will help as does bidding on keyword phrases that indicate the searcher is ready to buy and not simply researching. Another thing to remember is that you don’t need to bid so high that you get that top position. As long as your ads are appearing on the first page of the results, you should be good to go.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Tips for Optimizing Photos and Graphics for Your BlogMy Profile

  3. I believe that PPC ads can be affordable and effective when done right. Recently, I learned about Google’s AdWords Express which is targeted to smaller local businesses. I intend to check it out for a client of mine who has a local driveway paving business. Compared to some of the efforts that he has spent money on, I believe this can be a good solution for him.
    Sherryl Perry recently posted..20 Tips to Help Protect Your Online PrivacyMy Profile

    1. Hi Mac,
      Bing used to be a more affordable option than Google for PPC ads. (I honestly haven’t used it for a while). When you create your ads, are you using the option to only display them within a certain number of miles from your zip code? Also, are you using negative keywords? You can also save money by not bidding so high as to appear in that first position. All you really need to do is have your ad appear on the first page of results. Another thought is to look into Craig’s List and eBay classified ads (if you haven’t already tried them).
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Basic Steps to Better Blogging, Better Branding and More BusinessMy Profile

  4. Sherryl, thanks for this post. I was searching out of curiosity about PPC and found you have one of this post.. It was really helpful. 😀

      1. Yes Sherryl. I was able to read them. Those are the tips people often forget for some reason when creating their sites. Maybe because of too much excitement of creating their sites they forget some of the most important things like missing a valuable keyword or not making their contacts very visible which is one of the most important things and I find these kinds of mistakes in so many sites.

  5. Thanks. Please link to it. I’d like to get the word out. I tried to check out your blog but the link I followed was to Ezine and I couldn’t locate it.

  6. Thank you for the valuable info Sherryl. Last time I got a line, and it’s made up for a while, is Google is the most trusted place for organic search results and Bing the most trusted for paid.

    1. Thanks for confirming what Catherine said about Bing being the most trusted place for paid search results. Personally, I think Google has tarnished their reputation a little with their AdSense ads.

      Check out for examples of advertising that has gone terribly wrong.

  7. This is quite an impressive post certainly. I think PPC is a great way to generate targeted audiences towards your website and if done properly then it can be very cost effective. Thanks for the share!

    1. Thanks for the reply. As Kathy said in her comment, businesses are “missing out on a huge amount of new business because they aren’t taking advantage of PPC advertising”.

  8. Several years ago, before local PPC was available, I wrote a couple of Google ads and was so excited when they came up on page one. By the time I told all my friends — and this was in the space of minutes — I had disappeared. Outbid by competitors. I haven’t ventured into the water again, but maybe it’s time to revisit PPC.

    1. Are you thinking of using the local feature? That would be an interesting strategy since you’re not physically limited to a specific geographic area. Still, it could attract a lot of interest and there would be less competition for those keywords. I’d love to hear how that works out for you. Good luck!

  9. PPC advertising can be a mind field for new comers but there is loads of help on the web. My advice for anyone venturing out is to making sure that you are not paying for ineffective clicks. A pre-requisites for PPC Search Marketing Campaigns is to have analytics set up with conversion tracking. With this you can work out the profitability of your keywords, separate the wheat from the chaff and generally optimize your efforts to a level where your ad spend is profitable. One final tip, if you’re not constantly working on your PPC efforts you are more than likely losing money because your competitors will be improving theirs.

    1. Excellent advice. If you (or anyone else) have any specific tips on conversion tracking to share with us, I’m sure they’d be appreciated. Thanks for commenting.

  10. Hi Sherryl,

    Sorry it took me so long to get to this post. I really wish someone would slow down time! Thanks for the great advice and I have to listen to Kathy when she says any small business who is not using PPC is nuts! Unfortunately I know very little about this but will definitely make a point to research it some more. Thanks for getting me started with my education about PPC 🙂
    Julie Weishaar recently posted..The Big Bad Plugin MonsterMy Profile

    1. I really appreciated Kathy saying that. I think she may have made my point better than I did. 🙂

      Matt had some great tips too. Susan brought up using negative-keywords and Roezer spoke about using the free advertising that is offered to new PPC advertisers before you understand the basics.

      I hear you on the time! My plan (as it stands now) is to write at least one more post on this subject. There’s a ton of info out there on this but sometimes hearing from someone who has learned the hard way may help a little.

  11. The correct targeting and landing pages are important I have tought about this but as I only deal in Affiliate products and adsense there is not much of a goal in it for me as the risks are too high. Pay per click is a good option for anyone offering a service or selling their own product with the correct targeting it can bring much business if not you could stand to loose much.This is where many get put off as they get a free $50 or $100 Adwords voucher and spend it all before they even remotley understand the bidding process because they see it as free and are under some pressure to use it before it expires.

    1. I’m just starting to learn more about affiliate programs but I would think that if you have the right product and you’re targeting long-tail keywords, why wouldn’t you be able to use the same PPC strategy? I’m sure it won’t be easy to find affordable ads but I’m taking a course now on affiliate marketing and I’m not ready to rule out PPC yet.

      You make a very good point about people using their free advertising vouchers recklessly before they understand the bidding process. This is a great conversation! Thanks for your input. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

  12. Hi Sherryl,

    For one product I used PPC when i lauched and to be honest didn’t know a lot. Taking a step back and braking it down into the simple elements including keywords, knowing where and when to target the results picked up.

    One thing I found was by using negative keywords it not only saved a lot of useless clicks but the conversions increased. I haven’t used it for a while now but I hear there are improved ways to get your campaigns to be more targetted for example.

    Do you or anyone else have an opinion or know if PPC is affected by the introduction of Google Instant?
    Susan Oakes recently posted..How to Confuse Your Customers in One Easy StepMy Profile

    1. Excellent tip about using negative keywords! That can save a lot of money.

      As for the the effect Google Instant will have on on PPC advertising, I don’t think the SEO experts have come to a consensus on this. I’ve done quite a bit of research and I’m becoming overwhelmed with opinions.

      I’m not currently running any PPC ads but if I were, I’d write ads targeted at long-tailed keywords and make sure that the landing page that I’m directing the ad to has good content around those keywords.

  13. Thanks for the useful information Sherryl. Last time I heard, and it’s been a while, is Google is the most trusted place for organic search results and Bing the most trusted for paid. I wonder if that’s still the case?

    1. Catherine, I honestly don’t know the answer to your question. Hopefully, someone else here can shed some light on that. It would be good to know.

      My reason for using Bing for my PPC advertising was that I could buy my targeted keywords for a fraction of the cost of buying them on Google. That really spread out my budget.

  14. Another thought provoking post Sherryl, well done.

    I’ll be looking into PPC very soon to improve promotion of the new venture. It’s one of the things that I have ignored mainly because I haven’t been impressed by the quality of the traffic it creates, but for exposure it is a great tool to have working for you. My impression has been that it is best used in fully monetized applications and then only with due research to maximize its impact. Relevancy and getting the ads targeted properly is key. Mathew is spot on in his assessment.

    1. Matt did make such excellent points. Both Matt and Kathy speak from experience. When done well, this can be a very cost-effective way to drive traffic to your site.

  15. Great post Sherryl. If I decide to use PPT I will definitely look into Google Adwords PPC advertising.

  16. What a great and timely post as I revisit my marketing approaches secondary to my budget.
    I recently dabbled with a Facebook PPC ad and got zero hits! Clearly I didn’t do it correctly! Sherryl, you are so right that PPC can be a win win approach by reaching clients who could benefit from services and also safeguarding my cash flow. I love the suggestion of choosing the right landing page for the clicker and perfecting it to initiate the sale. I wouldn’t have thought about Bing or Yahoo.
    Thanks too to Matthew and Kathy for their suggestions.

    1. I ran a few Facebook PPC ads and got lots of hits! I also got a 100% bounce rate. Luckily for me, I had qualified for $75 of free advertising on Facebook. So, it didn’t cost me anything out of my pocket and it was another lesson learned.

      PPC would be a good fit for you Keyuri because you offer your service to a specific geographic area. There should be less competition for the keywords that you’re bidding on. As for landing pages, your ad needs to go to a page that is specifically designed to match the ad. There should be no doubt in your visitor’s mind that they have found exactly what they were searching for.

    1. You’re welcome Chris. I’ll be writing at least one more follow-up article on PPC advertising. Careful planning and tracking will keep your advertising campaigns on target and make the most of your investment.

  17. Kathy, I totally agree with you. I hope that reading this registers with a few people and they check it out. Local ads and niches are excellent examples where you can advertise cheaply. I don’t know if some people realize that you can buy a click for a nickle or dime. Thanks for pointing out how inexpensive it really can be. I hope we get the attention of some readers out there.

  18. I haven’t seen anyone talking about this lately, but I am glad that you brought it up. Any business people reading this should pay close attention.

    The vast majority of small businesses in the United States are missing out on a huge amount of new business because they aren’t taking advantage of PPC advertising, more specifically Google Adwords PPC advertising. It is incredibly inexpensive to advertise locally using this method. I am simply amazed that so many businesses still aren’t using it.

    One personal example I can share is that I bought Adwords PPC ads for one local website of mine that cost me a whopping ten cents per click. My ads show up in position one on Google for the keyword search phrases I have chosen and they only cost ten cents. The best part is that they only cost me the ten cents when someone actually clicks on the ad. So, for all those people who aren’t interested in the ad or don’t read the ad, I never have to pay. I simply cannot think of one single more cost effective form of advertising. It is astounding that local retailers and service businesses have been so slow to catch on.

    Those ads are in a low competition niche which is why they are so cheap. Still, local small businesses can be buying customers at a cost of a buck or two each. Who would not pay a buck or two for a new customer?

    If you are selling a product or service, you are nuts if you don’t look into PPC advertising. There are lots of places other than Google that you can purchase buying traffic for your website for very little money.

  19. Great article Sherryl. PPC is a great way to drive targeted visitors to your website and if done correctly can be very cost effective. I have had a few customers on ppc campaigns and it has worked out well for them. There are a few things to do before and during a ppc campaign to insure its success.
    – Make sure the focus of your website matches the keywords you are targeting for the campaign.
    – Make sure you have a defined goal of the campaign (driving traffic, increasing sales, getting more calls…ect).
    – Go over your website and make sure it is perfect ( no spelling errors, up to date information, no broken links, your contact information is easy to find).
    – Shop around and make sure you are doing the campaign on the right website (costs can vary) so that your return on the investment is worth it.
    – Make sure you regularly check in and see where your clicks are coming from and make any needed adjustments.

    My usual suggestion for ppc is start with a small budget and if you see an increase in traffic and or sales then add to it. That way if you find the campaign unsuccessful you haven’t blown your marketing budget and can find a different use for your money.

    1. Great tips Matt. Usually when you’re a first-time PPC advertiser, you can find an offer from Yahoo or Bing or maybe even Google to get started. I started using BING with $100 of free advertising when I bought a book. I believe I also got $75 of Yahoo advertising by signing up for somethin. I have no idea if deals like that are out there now but maybe someone else knows and will post a link here. As you say shop around. The price per click will differ based on the search engine. So, when you’re first learning, it may be cheaper to start with BING unless you’re bidding on keywords with very little competition. In that case, it may make sense to start right off with Google AdWords.

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