Scenario: You have a client who is a small-medium sized business who services a major metropolitan area. You’ve created multiple PPC accounts for the same type of service business in the past but in a less competitive market, and you’re well aware of the challenges ahead. You’re aware that your cost per click is going to be 3-4x what it may be in a less competitive area. What do you do?

“Take Small Bites… and Don’t Stuff Your Mouth”

Didn’t your mom always tell you when you were eating dinner, “Honey, take small bites and don’t stuff your mouth”? Well, who would have known her advice would be relevant to pay per click. Now I’ll explain.

In major metropolitan areas, PPC can be extremely competitive and get quite expensive. Rather than target the entire territory, start out with a chunk. Target some of the outlying cities and get CTRs up to where you would normally like them to be. Remember, starting an account off on the right foot with CTR will help avoid your cost per click going through the roof by keeping quality scores high.

“It’s 11pm… Do you know where your kids are?”

This is something a local TV news station says every night when the clock strikes 11pm. If the answer to the question was “No”, then your kids were probably up to no good. The same goes for your ads. If you’re letting your ads run wild in the wee hours of the night, the odds are they’ll be up to no good. Ad scheduling your campaigns so they avoid illegitimate activity (impressions and invalid clicks) will help keep your account healthy from the start. Let’s face it, if you’re a roofer and you’re advertising your services in PPC at 2am for example, you’re just asking for trouble.

PPC Ads Wild

“You have to crawl before you can walk”

Meaning, don’t start advertising right away for everything under the sun. Activate some campaigns or ad groups that are less competitive based on your experience and keyword research, and achieve some better CTRs there. Once you get the account rolling a little, then you can activate a little more, and so on and so forth.

Small Victories

We all know that computers are still the primary source of traffic when looking at the breakdown of devices in analytics, so how about targeting some lower traffic yielding devices? Try starting out with mobile or tablet traffic. Some studies show that this type of traffic can actually achieve higher CTRs and even convert at a higher rate. If you really want to get fancy, stick some site links in there with offers for “smart phone users only” or “tablet users only”. Getting some quality traffic and good CTRs from the start will create a solid foundation and positive history on the account to get it going.

Think Long-Term

So the argument I hear most when I talk about this strategy is, “My client wants results NOW, not 6 months from now!” Keep in mind, this is a long-term strategy. When the account has matured, it will be in a much better state, and the savings in your cost per click could be substantial. Be transparent with your client and explain to them that there’s a “method behind the madness”.

(Img credit Saskia Jenkins and

Justin-imageJustin Sous is a Search Engine Marketing Account Manager for A Second Opinion LLC. Entering the Internet Marketing landscape back in 2010 as a web analytics intern for a leading global rent-a-car company, Justin has now found himself a niche in SEM. For the past 2 years now, he has been managing PPC accounts for small to medium sized service businesses all over the USA on the Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter platforms. He has entered the freelance arena as well and can be contacted at