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Paid Search Cost Guess-timators


I often wonder how accurate the traffic and cost estimators for Google, Yahoo and MSN really are.  Do they take into effect the following FACTORS which would totally skew their estimates, such as:

  • Keyword matching
  • Negative keywords
  • Quality score (which affects avg position)
  • Seasonality

Now, lets suppose you have just acquired a new SEM client and as part of the initial proposal process, you provide them with an expected volume/traffic and monthly cost estimates, as well as avg  CPC estimates for all keyword search terms per engine. How confident can you be in these numbers? The answer is you can’t.

As these engines become smarter, (smarter meaning they get more and more money out of you), you need to monitor these campaigns as if it’s the last episode of the Grey’s Anatomy or something (don’t ask me why I chose that).  It’s important to look at all of the performance indicators, but you need to focus on clicks and CPC for every keyword. 9 out of 10, the high spending culprit is usually the Broad Match term. But with a good amount of targeted negatives in place, you should be able to keep the spend down. Also, as history starts to take shape and quality score is optimized, then over time the costs should be going down.

So, who knows what the future holds for these traffic and cost guess-timators.  Perhaps, the engines will suffer from a massive brainfart and make these tools a little more accurate and  accomodate the paid search marketer as well as customer instead of their stock investors.

In hindsight and past history, I highly doubt it. It will always be a hand of blackjack for us SEM Geeks!

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