I’m a big supporter of paid links but usually only for those phrases that you can’t seem to rank well for in the natural results, primarily because they are such generic terms. And even if you’re ranking #1 for some phrase, if it’s an extremely popular phrase/product, it might be worthwhile to spend a little money on a sponsored link.
What’s a “little” money? Anywhere from 50 cents per click to $2.50/click, depending on the business you’re in and your business finances. For example, if you’re a personal injury lawyer, you’ll pay a whole lot more than $2.50/click to be in the top 3 sponsored links for “personal injury lawyer”.
The nice thing about Adwords and other sponsored link programs is that you can try them out to see if they make a difference by creating a campaign that runs for as little as a week.
The bad thing about sponsored links is that you can never be absolutely sure if they are working. Someone might find your site via the ad, but what if they don’t order something until a week later and they order when they’re on someone else’s computer or they’ve cleared cookies on their pc and the site doesn’t realize you originally came their via a paid link.
But that’s where your common sense should kick in. If you run an ad for a week and you get an appreciable number of click-throughs, then look at sales for that week plus the following 2 or 3 weeks to see if the increased sales exceeded the cost of the ad. If they did, try it again. A pattern should become clear over time.
Of course, if you don’t see any additional sales, that might mean a number of things, including:
- Your ad misled the customer in some way, intentionally or not;
- Your ad took them to your home page and they couldn’t find the product/service you were advertising (always take them straight to the page where they can buy the product);
- Your product isn’t exactly what they wanted, i.e. maybe you don’t have the color or size or whatever they need;
- Your website doesn’t impress them enough for them to spend money with you.
More on this subject at a future date. Time to make a living!