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Revealing the Dirty Tricks of Pay-Per-Clicks

July 31, 2012

You may have heard that online leads have a great ROI compared to other marketing today. This is true in most cases when compared to traditional media like newspaper, direct mail, radio and TV. Well, we are letting the cat out of the bag. At Lure Creative, Inc. we believe that customer satisfaction comes first and company profits come second. That is why we are exposing the big secrets to how the big Pay-Per-Click (PPC) companies make great money and give you less than what you deserve.

Mirrored, Micro Websites & Splash Pages:

Larger PPC companies don’t want to mess around with getting into your existing website and programming the call tracking code on it. It’s time consuming for the programmers and they have to track down your hosting company and get FTP access to implant the tracking code. Also, they don’t want you confused with your organic website leads (SEO and other advertising efforts) vs. the leads and phone calls they drive to you via their Pay-Per-Click campaign (Google or Bing ads). So they find it easier to use one of these three methods for creating a trackable website for your company…

  1. Mirrored or Proxy Website: This is where they copy your website, put it on a new web address (URL) and block search engines from being able to index or crawl the website. They do this so that Google does not penalize your main website for having duplicate content and websites on the Internet. Some PPC companies block the PPC website and it immediately damages your main website ranking. Then they use their Google account to set up ads, keywords, bid amounts, etc.
  2. Micro Website: the PPC company will just create a generic template website, set it on a new web address, put your company name on it, and a list of your services with their call tracking numbers. Secondary pages may identify individual services you do with more detail.
  3. Splash Pages: this is where the PPC company will add a page to their main website with all your company information, bio, and list of services and hook up a PPC ad campaign to it.

In all three cases, it detours traffic from your website. Google uses volume of traffic to your main website as one of its metrics that decides which websites are more popular to show at the top of keyword search results. Although, Google does not give you as much credit for the paid traffic, it does count toward some SEO. Plus, if a website visitor bookmarks your PPC website instead of your main website, then you are losing organic SEO traffic that can let your competitors move ahead of you in search results.

Smoke & Mirrors – Keyword Bidding:

The goal of larger PPC companies is to make it appear that they work miracles when it comes to making the phone ring.  Here is how they do it. They use your company name as a keyword. That way when a customer or, even better, a referral Googles your name, your ad comes up. Then the person clicks on the ad since it’s at the top and has your name on it. It’s a lost cost per click that makes it look like the paid ad brought the customer to you. These companies track this in their report as a “unique” customer, when in many cases you should have received that customer organically through your main website, Google or Bing business page, or any other free directory source. They are stealing your customers and referrals and leads from other marketing you have done and basically reselling them to you.
What’s even better is how good it makes their statistical reporting look. It makes for a higher click through rate, a lower cost per lead and increases the overall volume of leads they report back to you. From month to month, it gives the business owner the false sense that they “need” or “have to have” the PPC services since they are producing a high volume of leads.

We prefer to do the opposite. We like to use the company name as a negative keyword so that the company does not pay for leads they are already getting. Then, the majority of leads through our PPC services are brand new and truly unique prospects. The overall result is a higher number of leads for the company overall and new prospects that they would have never seen if they had spent their budget on existing customers, referrals or by paying for a lead twice (other advertising/branding and PPC).

Another trick that PPC companies like to use is to bid on keywords that get a lot of clicks to make their click-thru rate look good, but actually never get you calls. For example, they use keywords like “Landscape Design Ideas” where do-it-yourself homeowners search for landscaping plans.  Ask for a list of your keywords so that you can review for efficiency and you can avoid this.

Note: also be aware of many directory companies with PPC contracts that include, in small print, permission for them to take over all your online directories so that they can insert the call tracking number that makes it look like they generated all the new leads and business for you. It happens!

The Account Hostage Crisis:

You want a PPC company to charge you for the professional setup and use your Google and Bing accounts and then manage the campaigns through their agency software. This way you get all the benefits of the account being set up professionally, you own it, and pay-per-click budget is billed directly to your credit card. This ensures that the agency does not superficially mark up your bids and send you one bill where you don’t know how much went towards your click spend and how much the agency pocketed. When accounts are set up this way, there is not confusion and if that agency is not performing, you can simply move to another PPC agency with no loss.

PPC Costs & Billing:

With the rising costs of Pay-Per-Click keyword bidding, it’s getting more expensive for small businesses to generate leads. However, PPL is still a very low cost per lead, but you need to be careful. For instance, many companies ask for your budget, and then apply roughly 50% to 70% toward actual clicks and the rest goes to them. Without going into the details of running a successful PPC campaign, I can tell you that no PPC company is worth that much and it makes it more difficult for the ROI statistics to make sense. You should have at least 80% of your budget going towards the bidding and clicks.

Long Term Contracts Are Old School:

Be sure when trying out a new PPC company that you have a three-month contract at the minimum. It sometimes takes up to three months to perfect a PPC campaign and get it hitting on all cylinders. In cases where the PPC agency is already familiar with your industry, top performing keywords, and has a thorough list of the right negative keywords, they can have you up and running with leads in days or a couple of weeks. You don’t want to be tied into a long-term contract if the PPC agency is not performing well with your money. Make them provide a report so you know how they are doing and you know what your money is being spent on. Our services are month to month and we are confident that we will perform higher than industry standards.

The Proof Is in Conversions:

Don’t take the agency’s word for it that PPC works. Make sure they do web form submission tracking and phone call tracking that relates directly to the PPC campaign you are running. One way that these companies makes themselves look good is to put one call tracking number on your main website and then they take credit for all the traffic, organic and paid (PPC). The reports the agencies offer you should show you this detail so you know the true results of their efforts!

Conclusion: So please do your homework and makes sure that you are not doing yourself more damage than good when it comes to hiring a Pay-Per-Click or Search Engine Marketing company to generate leads for your business online.

About the Author

Scott Christian

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