Here at DanMatt Media, one of our primary service lines is Pay Per Click marketing, often referred to as SEM or Google Adwords. Pay Per Click is a highly-targetable and very useful form of advertising. Though it is more expensive to run a Pay Per Click campaign than say an SEO campaign, there are decided advantages to it.
If you look at a standard Google search query (for example, “Denver dentist”), you will often see 3 or 4 paid search ads at the very top of the page. They are designated by a green “Ad” icon next to them. These are the Pay Per Click ads, and there is a reason why they are at the very top of the page, and why they are likely the first thing you will see. Google doesn’t make any money on SEO (organic search) but they make a whole lot of money on Adwords campaigns. Every time someone clicks on those ads, Google receives a fee for the click. As such, Google has a vested interest in having those ads seen by as many relevant people as possible, which is why they are at the very top of the page (there are also typically paid search ads at the bottom of the page as well, with the organic SEO ads sandwiched in the middle).
Pay Per Click campaigns can easily be three, five, ten, or more times as expensive as SEO campaigns. The reason for that is that you (the client) are paying every time someone clicks on your ads. That isn’t the case with SEO campaigns, which do not charge per click. But while Pay Per Click campaigns are more expensive, they tend to produce a lot more leads (usually phone calls or website form submissions) and they drive those leads much more quickly. The reason for this is simple. With Pay Per Click, we can position your ad at the very top of page 1 of Google on the first day of your campaign. If your budget allows for it, you can literally have the top ranked ad in your industry and geographical area. That is not the case with SEO, which can take many months to achieve a page 1 ranking, let alone a # 1 ranking (and that may never happen).
So the real question isn’t whether Pay Per Click is worth it. It is. The real question for clients to consider is how quickly you need to see results (new leads), and what you are willing to invest each month to obtain those results. Ideally, a client’s marketing budget should include several facets of digital media buying, including both Pay Per Click and SEO. But when we get the sense that a prospective client is looking for results right away, we almost always recommend the SEM channel.