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PPC Makes More Business Sense
Natural rankings should be looked at as a bonus.

 7:22 am on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

My site went from #3 to page 3 for my high traffic keyword. What is even more frustrating is a page that is not even found is two positions ahead of me on page 3 with 100x less links. All the spammy sites now outrank me. The site that took my position is horrible from any "SEO" point of view. content or otherwise.

One reason I like PPC. If it makes money at least you have control over your position. I think a business model that uses PPC is more solid. I have started focusing on it again. Its cool to be ranked free but
no business should be based on variables you can't control.

I used to want free traffic but fee = not guaranteed.
It can be a huge waste of effort.

I think when developing a new business paid advertising should be the focus. Then free traffic, if you get it,
is a bonus.

In the end its how much you make per month not how much you spend.



 4:04 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I strongly agree with that philosophy -- and not just PPC but any form of marketing or promotion where you have a good degree of control. If you need organic search traffic to survive, and most especially if profitability all hangs on a handful of terms, then you are playing with fire.

But from working with many clients, I know how hard it is to get this concept across. They look at Google like a public utility, or their "divine right" -- or something other than a for-profit business that uses search to generate their own revenue. And when a business enjoys long term good income from organic traffic, they can become quite complacent and not even notice how dependent they are on an algorithm that can accidentally roll over and squash them at any time.


 4:15 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

My sector is disallowed from Adwords owing to it's possible illegality in the US (we don't sell to the US and would only target the UK/EU where we are legal).

What are we to do?

Besides, people are suspicious of adverts but not of serps. I would guess that #1 serp position is worth vastly more in terms of clicks than #1 Adwords position.


 4:20 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think when developing a new business paid advertising should be the focus. Then free traffic, if you get it, is a bonus.

Depends on the business. PPC is seldom practical for an editorial "content site," except possibly as a way to drive traffic to pages that are known to generate significant revenue.

On my own site (which just happens to be an editorial content site), revenues come from advertising and affiliate links. Traffic comes from search engines, unsolicited links from other sites, and repeat visitors. Even when SE traffic drops off sharply (as mine did when I lost 70-75% of my Google referrals from late March through late May), repeat visitors and traffic from other sources can keep a painful annoyance from being a disaster.

Interesting side note: About half a dozen of my most profitable pages have been missing from Google for more than six months, but they're getting as much traffic and generating as much income now as they were when Google was still indexing them. Why? Because users who come to the site for other information on the same overall topic are finding them via internal links. Come to think of it, Google referrals for my major keywords and keyphrases have never represented more than a tiny percentage of overall Google referrals--even when I've ranked #1. If you've got enough content on a topic to attract a good-sized audience through "long tail" search referrals and repeat visits, referrals for your most important keyphrases are nice to have but not essential.


 4:34 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am accustomed to getting a strong and steady flow of traffic free, so why go PPC? The cost of PPC does not make sense for my site because I don't make enough per visitor to justify the cost.

My site has enjoyed a long list of top rankings for quite some time, so I'm not overly concerned about them going away, but I do plan for that eventuality by developing other sites.

PPC is a tool and has its place in a diversified ad program, but it's not right for every site.


 4:34 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree europe:

Not that you are not making 20K a month or more ( I don't know) but the adsense stuff to me is a big waste of effort. Why? The
income is limited. There are not very many, if any, making 20K per month. And, if it does, then start saving because it could be gone soon.

With that being said. I guess my point is this:
Before I venture out to start more sites I want to make sure they are something that can earn money on PPC first. Nobody in this forum knows any guaranteed way to rank a site. If they did I would see the same owner on all the top big money keywords.

So I personally will not start an adsense business because it doesn't have the potential. I am not putting it down but if investing money into adsense and things that rely on organic listings is a BAD business idea long term.

If you are in this for fun then great. This does not apply. I am talking about generating income long term.


 4:52 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

EFV is right about content/ editorial sites - I've tried PPC, but the ROI is always negative. My content site gets traffic and revenue the same way his does.

That said, if you look at the hard paper publishing industry (magazines and weeklies), it's always been a tough business, and the publications that make the most money have pages and pages of high paying ads. It's not really that great of a business model, either in paper or on the Internet.


 4:58 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Misread it at first. thought you wanted the search engine results to be ppc. :)

I think the best method for traffic is organic within your niche.. but if you don't have sites that really fall into a community then I agree it might make sense to look at ppc as at least you do have some control.


 5:06 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)


We were thinking on some limited PPC spending. But as you say as a content site it is very hard to make much on this method.

However, I think it might work in a couple of areas where people tend to read multiple stories in a session (like celebrity or photos). Also some review areas might result in affiliate buys. I guess those are the two areas we will test out.

Also depends on the cost per click, I think we make something like $10.00 per 1000 pages viewed so clearly we would need some of those to either turn into repeat users or buy something via an affiliate link. But worth a pop I guess to see how it goes.


 5:36 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anything's worth a try - your mileage may vary, as they say. Just make sure you're keeping strict records on it.

It took me a while to discover how much money I was losing on my Adwords clicks because I couldn't tell which affiliate purchases were coming from natural search and which ones were coming from Adwords clicks. When Google handily aced my site out of its index in May, I kept running the Adwords but it became pretty clear right away that all those sales I'd had were generating from natural search and nada from Adwords (in other words the sales for those pages dried up and the Adwords kept on adding up).

At least that's one good thing that came out of Google drubbing my traffic - I stopped the Adwords campaigns and saved some money!

That's not to say I won't use Adwords in the future, just not for affiliate pages (I know they work for some people's affiliate pages, just not with my particular business model). I will use them when I have a product of my own to sell, like an ebook, where the profit margin is so huge it'll be a lot easier to make a good ROI.


 5:40 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

So I personally will not start an adsense business because it doesn't have the potential....If you are in this for fun then great. This does not apply. I am talking about generating income long term.

Who's talking about an "AdSense business"? I'm talking about a media business with multiple revenue streams (of which AdSense is just one interchangeable element, and not the biggest element at that).

But that's a topic for another thread in a different forum. The question here is whether PPC makes more business sense than relying on organic traffic. The answer may be "yes" for an e-commerce site or a pure affiliate site; it's likely to be "no" for an editorial or reference site, partly because of ROI and partly because "content sites" provide the raw material for the SERPs that attract users to search engines.


 6:16 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi guys, I'm new and I've been wondering about this very thing.

I guess the consensus here seems to be that for sites that have a product to sell (particularly one with high profit margin, like e-products) PPC is worth it, but not for sites that rely on referring visitors to affiliates for income?


 6:28 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

ppc may make more cents, but free traffic makes more dollars. ;)


 6:35 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

" ppc may make more cents, but free traffic makes more dollars. ;)"

It does? Not from my experience. I guess I am glad a lot of people think that.


No. The point is that I would not start a new business that relys on Organic at all. So if you came to me and said I really like publishing I would say thats great lets find another business that doesn't need free traffic. That was the point of why are started this post.

A media business may be different but if it can rely on PPC for its sales I would say great. If it can benefeit from both even better.


 6:45 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

"It does? Not from my experience. I guess I am glad a lot of people think that."

so you'd rather pay for say, mesothelioma traffic, than get it for free?


 6:47 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

But what about the click fraud? Doesn't that concern you?


 7:33 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

TheGuyAboveYou wrote:

No. The point is that I would not start a new business that relys on Organic at all. So if you came to me and said I really like publishing I would say thats great lets find another business that doesn't need free traffic.

Again, this isn't the right place to be discussing business models, but I can assure you that publishing can be a very profitable business to be in if you know publishing--and if you're leery of advice from people who don't. :-)


 9:40 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why don't you let the moderators decide that!

I was just trying to give an example of my experience. To many "know it alls" on this forum anymore.

Not sure why I post on here anymore. Everyone already seems to know everything. Glad you disagree. We get the point. Publishers don't like PPC.

Looked like other people had input until your issue with publishing got in the way and you "shut us up".


 10:22 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why don't you let the moderators decide that!

Sorry, I just didn't want to be found guilty of "thread drift." :-)


 10:41 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

It so common to here "dont rely on free traffic".

There are many many people making a good living off free traffic alone. No one said it is easy, you will have good days and bad days, good months and bad months, good years... well u get the point.

Search engine traffic business models are still very valid. Firstly dont just rely one site, use varying techniques for your SEO and dont try and play the SE's. Prepare and ration your income for the bad times.

IMO, to make this work you need to increase the value of every visitor to your site. Add elements to the site that makes it 'sticky' enough for the visitor to want to come back in a day or two. Employ a system by which the user feels the site is 'their site'. Get the user generating content for you (comments, submitting articles etc). Give the surf reason to link to your site and motivation enough to tell their friends etc etc.
Converting a SE visitor to a regular visitor is the best way to build a model around free traffic. Enough of these sites and your income will survive the dreaded google updates. </rant>


 10:43 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

"so you'd rather pay for say, mesothelioma traffic, than get it for free?"

Lets think about this for a moment. Yes the click price is high but I wonder why? Perhaps someone is making 20x that for every conversion into a client :0. Who is really making money off the high click price? I wonder.

I am saying I would rather being the guy getting the clicks from publishers. That is where the real money is.

So yes. I would rather pay for the clicks and have them guaranteed. If I happen to rank because I did "SEO" great
I will take the free clicks. But if I can't make money on
PPC then, for me, next business please.


 11:02 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

How many years of free traffic and how much profit does one need to accumulate before it is proved that relying on free traffic can be a good business model?


 11:18 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

I surely second EFV and others.

Informative/Contents sites are feeded with searching engine traffic and repetitive visitors, while making revenue using advertisements. Surely most of contents sites would not invest on PPC when they are making revenue utilizing their SE traffic.

On the other hand, Products/Services site should focus only on traffic from PPC advertisements not free SEs as their revenue is sales-based, not traffic based.

I for one when googling for a commercial service/product I keep an eye on the adwords, while when googling for a piece of information or a free service I hunt the SERPs. Well.. that was before google get broken of course, but that's another story :)


 11:29 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

frup, you dont have to prove that to anyone. Anyone claims that relying on SE traffic only is a bad business model is a retard. Think About.com.. Would they ever exist if not for searching engine traffic, and i say it loudly "searching engine traffic ONLY".

Why go further.. think WebmasterWorld! How did you find such forum? On a PPC listing, a TV commercial or a word of mouth?

I can hear the retards saying "a word of mouth.. a word of mouth.." :)


 11:30 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

See, the problem is that when Google "breaks," a content website might stop being a viable business model. Especially when that website is just scraping by, and not exactly pulling down big bucks.


 11:53 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Not all content websites are successful, and not all businesses that rely on content websites are successful, that doesn't mean creating content websites isn't a viable business model.


 11:55 pm on Oct 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

Exactly. Not all businesses of any type are successful (including those that rely on PPC traffic).

Addendum: One obvious weakness of the PPC-driven approach is that you're at the mercy of the market, which can be just as risky as being at the mercy of the search engines. (It's certainly more risky than having a site that brings in traffic from multiple sources, including links from other sites and repeat visitors.)


 1:20 am on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well I think PPC is worth a pop on content, but as Jannis said something to track close.

I also think you need to be prepared for it. For instance at the moment we have no newsletters or user system running (we did but mthballed for this more sophisticated one). By Jan we should have a full alert/newsletter system running so those PPC visitors are more likely to sign up for an alert or such and so become repeat visitors. So I won't be trying that until we are set.

As for publishing content as a business model I think if you have the content and the traffic then it goes very well. We usually have a 1 to 3 on cost of content vs. income. So if I spend $2000 on content for a section per month we usually make $6000...I have no idea how that compares across other publishers or other models but acceptable to me at the moment. Plus publishing seems to scale very well for us. As you have more cash you can buy large amount of content for far less than piecemeal...so economies of scale are good I guess.

I think what I have learned is you need to concentrate on getting those people back and also have mutiple traffic sources. So this next quarter we will concentrate on building a bunch of satellite sites, with their own unique content but driving traffic towards the main....actually how I kicked started the existing site but I think sort of lost track of that as the traffic flowed free. Sometimes those heady months of success can make you lazy.

Plus traffic is never really free, you have to get the content in the first place and that usually costs money. As Jannis says and as I found out last week of Sept getting a lot of your traffic from one source is very dangerous for content sites, especially when PPC is untested as alternate. So for instance our main site dropped from turning over $XXXX a day to $XXX, overnight. Now luckily our planning was based on lesser figures (we had a 100% traffic rise in early Aug)so still able to more than break even on current traffic. Plus as content sites become popular your advertising becomes worth far more. I know we now get 4 times what we were getting for 1000 impressions 6 months ago. So even when you drop still making more than the past on same traffic...though I guess that has a shelf life if you stay low for too long.

But a wakeup call and something to bear in mind when signing 1 year content deals.

I have a good feeling one of the sections where we are about to review 500 of the items per month could be a good prospect for it, once the alert stuff is read and a custom comparison script we ordered is ready. Since you make money from them reading pages and then maybe X% buy something as well. Whether enough of either to break even remains to be seen.

But I think a place for PPC somewhere in the mix for content sites...just not sure where...yet. I also note quite a few paper/TV based content sites use PPC...

I would be interested to hear if anyone has used PPC on a pure content site and seen a good return.


 1:47 am on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I also note quite a few paper/TV based content sites use PPC...

I don't think they're looking for immediate ROI, though--they're probably looking for registrations, which provide demographic data for ad sales.


 1:57 am on Oct 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yip I agree, I was going to edit. The ones I see using it have offline services as well that they are punting. But I have not looked at it in any detail.

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