Niche Businesses: Competing With PPC Giants

When did PPC advertising get so expensive? Remember when click costs were just a fraction of what they are now and small businesses could rank alongside the giants? For niche businesses, it can often feel like the odds are stacked against you now. Small budgets lead to small data sets that are hard to analyze when you have no time. With AdWords and AdCenter growing increasingly expensive, it seems like small businesses are getting priced out of PPC altogether.

Then again, would David and Goliath be a good story if the giant weren’t so formidable? Taking down the giant wasn’t easy, but a little will power and the right weapons went a long way. The same goes for niche businesses in PPC advertising. A little perseverance and the right weapons can make search engines a profitable playground for small businesses once again.

The following is a list of weapons all niche businesses need in their arsenal if they are going to go toe-to-toe with the big spenders.

Long-tail keywords - If you could only pick one weapon to go into battle with, long-tail keywords (a search term with three or more words) would be the one to choose. More like a sniper rifle than a machine gun, long-tail keywords are highly targeted and more likely to convert. Just as importantly, they are significantly cheaper and much less competitive. The real challenge is brainstorming enough long-tail keywords to attract enough traffic to your site. Dig into your website’s analytics to see real world data on how people are reaching your site and what search queries they are using as a starting point. Take the ideas you get from the web analytics and plug them into AdWords keyword tools for more suggestions, estimated costs, and an insight to how competitive the keyword is.

Geotargeting – Geotargeting (targeting your ads to specific geographical locations) makes sure you are waging the battle on your own turf. You’d be surprised at how many people try to compete for clicks in places they can’t even serve! Limit your ads to locations where users can access your product and are likely to be interested. Geotargeting is a great way to quickly reduce wasteful clicks traffic allowing you to pour more money into the keywords that work.

Dayparting – Much like geotargeting, dayparting (limiting the times of day your ads will show) keeps you from wasting precious ammunition. In general, the middle of the night is a terrible time to pay for a click since it’s a good time for window-shopping. Before you choose the times to run your ads, gather some data and see which hours your CTR and conversion rates are the highest. Once you identify a pattern of behavior, it will be easier to figure out when to spend your money.

Quality Score – Despite being small, a niche business might actually have an advantage over the giant retailers when it comes to Quality Score. Unlike larger retailers, a niche business is dedicated to a few products that fall under a specific category. By carefully focusing your PPC campaign on your niche, it is highly likely that your keywords and ads will be highly relevant to the content on your website. This should boost your click-through-rate, which will positively impact your Quality Score. A high Quality Score helps bring down your click costs and boost your page rank, making it possible to compete against companies with much deeper pockets.

Even with a diverse arsenal at your disposal, battling the giants is going to be challenging. The best chance a niche business has is to use these PPC management tools meticulously. By watching the data like a hawk and tirelessly optimizing, a small business might still be able to hang with a far more powerful competitor.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user kennysarmy.

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