By Tom Warthen – President, ProSite Web Design LLC –

In general, most companies would be wise to prioritize their efforts on their organic search engine optimization efforts as opposed to spending advertising dollars on pay-per-click ads. However, for some businesses paid ads make sense. The 24% increase in U.S. search ad spending in platforms like Google and Facebook during the first quarter of 20131 is a testament to their popularity. If your business falls into this group, make sure you are aware that as competition is rising, the prices for popular keywords are increasing as well. So, in order to maximize your return, avoid these common pitfalls:

1. Making your target too broad

Only compete where you can win. Every business has a certain type of perfect customer, and that’s the individual you should be looking for with your pay-per-click ads. By staying within your niche and researching competitive advantages, you can target a specific type of buyer, and use keyword/ad combinations that draw them in.

2. Chasing the competition

The keywords with the most traffic tend to draw the most competition, and the highest bid prices. Oddly enough, they aren’t always the most profitable ones. The keywords you want to bid on are the ones that indicate a desire to buy and make a purchasing decision soon. Look for those, and ignore the less profitable, broader keywords and phrases that everyone else is bidding on.

3. Ignoring filters

You can now see that all traffic is not good traffic, and the wrong visitors can actually lose you money quickly using pay-per-click ads. So, how do you further refine your ad? Use filters for geographic and demographic factors wherever possible and the fewer clicks you’ll be paying for and wasting on searchers who aren’t ever going to buy from you.

4. Competing for top placement

The top three ad positions on a page are almost always at a premium, since advertisers will outbid each other to get the most clicks. Ironically, some lower, less-expensive ad positions tend to convert a higher percentage of traffic into customers. That’s because only serious buyers move farther down the page. Remember that, and experiment with lower ad positions that represent better bargains for your budget.

5. Not optimizing your site for sales conversion

Of course, attracting potential buyers is only half the battle – it’s up to you to craft landing pages that get them to make a purchase or sign up for more information. Pay close attention to percentages and trends so you can squeeze the most value from every page on your site.

Pay-per-click advertising can still offer an opportunity for cost-effective online marketing, but you have to learn to avoid the expensive traps. To get more help organizing your online search and advertising campaigns, call or email ProSite Web Design today for a free consultation.

Tom Warthen is the President of ProSite Web Design LLC and has been helping businesses looking for a high return on their online marketing investment since the early days of the Internet in the 1990s. To learn more about how to make your website the best it can be, and to contact ProSite Web Design for a consultation, visit


1. “New Kenshoo Global Search Advertising Trends Report Shows Dramatic Q1 Increase in Paid Search Efficiency” 23 April 2013. Web. 14 November 2013.