High-Spend Terms for Google Adwords

May 29, 2006

Topics: Search Marketing.

A tumor affecting the lining of the chest or abdomen. The risk of malignant (cancerous) mesothelioma is increased by exposure to air-borne asbestos particles.

Mesothelioma is a famously expensive term to purchase in Google’s Adwords program. The actual most expensive terms in Adwords fluctuate pretty regularly – but certain types of terms and search phrases are consistently extremely expensive.

Sample high spend terms from Google’s Adwords Tool today:

  • mesothelioma lawyers – $27.32
  • mesothelioma treatmenst – $21.86
  • chicago personal injury lawyers – $39.62
  • chicago personal injury attorneys – $37.74
  • consolidate student loans – $41.19
  • consolidate school loans – $41.36
  • mortgage refinance rates – $33.41
  • refinance my mortgage – $32.06
  • search engine optimization firm – $20.89

Pricing for Adwords is on a bid structure – in order to achieve high placement, you need to be willing to pay more than the next person in line. Therefore, certain very desirable terms inevitably climb to the highest point somebody is willing to pay. When you are working with Adwords you need to be extremely careful in bidding – it is very easy to take your spending past the point where it is actually profitable for you.

How do terms like these remain profitable? Well, for the most part, these are terms in the legal or financial industries – hugely expensive industries where a single new client may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Consolidating a single student’s loan package can easily reach $100,000 dollars – and the profit on that loan, in investment value and interest payments can be enormous. Is it worth $41.19 per click? Possibly, at least as long as your conversion rate is high enough. (Without knowing the actual profit margins on these transactions, I can’t really guess the needed conversion rate, of course.)

So, presumably, the bidders on a major high-spend keyword like mesothelioma are legal associations looking to represent what could be major industry lawsuits or medical associations looking to provide information on the disease and access to insurance or medical aid.

Well, one would think, at any rate.

However, in this spam-filled world, the top 10 ad placements on Google as of my search for "what is mesothelioma" at 10:50 AM CEDT are largely dominated by spam. The URL (Uniform Resource Locator)’s displayed by these ads are, in order from top to bottom:

  • MesotheliomaAsbestosLungCancer.com
  • www.lungusa.org
  • Mesothelioma1.net
  • www.breastcancer.org/dictionary
  • www.info.com/Mesothelioma
  • www.quizlaw.com
  • asbestos.free-resource-guide.com
  • Mesothelioma.getfast.info
  • tips2info.com

I visited all of these URL’s (without clicking their ads) to check them out, on the off hand chance they were actually legit. As expected, the American Lung Association (lungusa.org) is legit. breastcancer.org is also legit. www.quizlaw.com is MOSTLY a legitimate site, but they do have this interesting page. Is this the landing page for their ad? I don’t really know…but one suspects.

The remaining six results were unequivocably made-for-advertising sites of no meaningful value. How can these sites profit on this advertising? Presumably, the average visitor, having cost them $40 by clicking on their ad, will only click on ONE outgoing ad, or perhaps two? Given the percentages granted to advertisers, it’s hard to imagine this can be profitable. But these sites are so incredibly cheap to create that it is no trouble to maintain a thousand of them – and the offhand traffic or incidental searches are what keep them profitable. Nevertheless, it’s hard to perceive the value of adwords expense for this.

Regardless of the profitability of spam websites, they are a frustrating phenomenon. Six out of nine results were worthless non-resources – one of the other three was probably driving traffic to a nearly worthless page, even though the site itself seems to be somewhat valuable. The two remaining organizations are both non-profits – spending a huge amount of money hoping to educate people.

A search for "mesothelioma lawyers" is little different – the ad results include many of the same results now including such highly relevant addresses as www.wakeboarder.com/Mesothelioma and www.Bargainrama.com.

What’s the lesson? I feel that if you are in a legitimate business which is working in an area which requires these kind of high-spend terms you are far better off ignoring pay-per-click advertising altogether. The density of garbage in the ads will quickly drive attention from your ads and the expense may be very difficult to justify.

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2 Comments to “High-Spend Terms for Google Adwords”

  1. Response very much appreciated! I was unable to check on the actual mesothelioma landing page, not wanting to cost the company a significant amount of advertising money just for a test.

    Thanks for your commments!

  2. QuizLaw is not “mostly” a legitimate site, it is an entirely legitimate site. The page you have linked to is not the landing page – rather, it is the results page if you do a local search for “mesothelioma.” And yes, there are not many results, as we have not discussed the matter in depth. And that’s because that’s simply not the purpose of the site. As explained elsewhere on the site, QuizLaw’s purpose is to provide a basic lay overview of legal issues. Which is precisely what the actual mesothelioma landing page provides.