Pay-per-click advertising online is a tricky business, as anyone who has tried to manage an account knows.

But so is hiring a company to do it. Either way, there is a lot of danger of money ill spent and time wasted.

If they do not want to handle the account personally, small business people really have two options in the online ad market.

The first is to hire a big pay-per-click company and the second is to hire an individual or a ‘certified consultant.’

Larger companies have an advantage of using software systems to manage an account. The idea is that this software, coupled with the input of a strategist, can rapidly update accounts.

Individual consultants also use software, but promise a more personal approach.

The cost is rarely different. A startup site with either usually begins at about $1,800 per month plus the cost of clicks.

According to the Wall Street Journal, big players in this area often draw complaints from customers. Misplaced ads, errors, and irrelevant keywords are common problems.

But individual consultants can make the same errors.

Both approaches rely on giving the business owner a flurry of numbers and charts that purport to show the campaigns are working, actual sales notwithstanding.

The key is that the customer must be involved in the process. Whether you have a big company or an individual handle your account, you must be willing to visit the Adwords or Yahoo account yourself and review it. You can request that your consultant familiarize you with the pay-per-click interface.

So, how can you get the most from your pay-per-click consultant?

No matter which way you go you’ll have to do your homework. The best way to waste money is to be a hands-off participant in the process.

Make a list of keywords you think will bring customers to your site. You consultant should discuss these with you and tell you which keywords cost more and which are likely to be most effective.

Then decide on a landing page (a special Web page) for each keyword. Be warned that you might have to invest time to make special landing pages for keywords. For example, if your key phrase is ‘Jamaican coffee beans’ then when the customer clicks on your ad, he will want to see a page dedicated to Jamaican coffee beans not coffee beans from Brazil.
Make sure your consultant has the exact landing page for each keyword.

Define your focus or demographics. Who is your customer? Where are they located? The more clearly you can define your customer, the better your ads will be.

Be sure your consultant defines a conversion. When someone clicks on an ad, they should have a choice of buying now or maybe joining a mailing list or asking for samples. What is your conversion? Is it a sale or a request for a sample.

Visit the Adwords or Yahoo account frequently and review it yourself. It will seem strange at first but there is no substitute for review.

If you are thinking about kicking off a Pay Per Click campaign for your contracting business, or would like a second opinion on your current Pay Per Click campaign request a Strategy Session. Our experts specialize in helping contractors and are a great resource for saving you time and money.