Top Spot Isn’t Always Best (Bowling for Dollars)

When I first jumped into PPC, I was all excited to get clicks to my affiliate site. I was disillusioned to think that everyone that visited my site would click through and apply for whatever it was I was presenting them. Boy was I wrong.

Not only did they not click through, but I was paying a fortune for those no-good clicks.

So how can I get people to my site without paying so much?

Well, start by targeting the third or fourth spot in PPC.

Disclaimer: This is only if you have the cash to do so. If you're a total n00b to PPC, I suggest you go buy Peter Kent's PPC For Dummies before you start spending money wildly online (like I did).

PPC AD Placement
So lets talk about placement for a minute. For the most part, we can assume that the top ads for a search on Google, MSN or Yahoo! are the top-paying ad. These ads usually show up on the left-hand side of the screen, and usually there are three of them.

That means that slot number four is the first one on the top-right. Agreed?

Selling Bowling Balls
Our new company (that I just made up for this post) is called Hard Balls Inc. We can sell a bowling ball for, say, $100 bucks. After manufacturing, our profit on a $100 ball is $80. So we have a nice margin to play with before we're losing money. I'll also assume that our competition has about the same margins.
When I look online (I'm the PPC manager of said company), I see that there are plenty of bowling ball ads. I can log into my PPC account and see what the approximate top bid is for 'bowling balls'. It's $2.00. For sake of example, lets say slot two pays $1.50, slot 3 pays $1.00, and slot four pays $0.75. So I can play around with my bids to get my ad to show up in the #4 slot, I can probably get a nice return on my ads, and I'm saving myself nearly $1.25 per click vs. my competitor.

Click to view full image
Now, in my opinion, slot four is the premium spot. Just like banner blindness, I think searchers are becoming blind to the ads at the top-left of search results. This is totally my opinion, and could possibly be entirely wrong.

If someone is searching for bowling balls on Google, and they are in the mood to buy, I think they'll look on the right for an ad. They aren't looking for search results per se, but rather somewhere to buy a new bowling ball. Since I'm in ad slot #4, I win the customers' clicks, and hopefully their purchase as well.

Also, it should be noted that for less-competitive keyphrases, by the time you get to position 4 or 5, you are usually getting quite a nice discount on your click price. You're only paying (in theory) one cent more than the #5 slot bid.

Let Me Know What You Think
Do you use this method? Do you think slot #1 far outweighs the benefits of being in slot #4? Do you think ad blindness is starting to take place in search results?


Will Hanke owns Saint Louis' top independent Internet Marketing firm, Red Canoe Media. In addition to helping some of St Louis' most recognizable brands with their online marketing strategy, Will also is an Amazon bestselling author, speaker and teacher.

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