Interview: Aaron Wall (SEO On Pay Per Click Advertising

By jameszol
Published on April 7, 2008

Aaron Wall, the guru behind SEO’s SEO Training Course and SEO Tools, posted a blog post a few weeks ago about guest posting for a number of his readers. We were one of the lucky ones that he responded to with an in depth PPC interview. He was very complimentary and we’re excited to share his answers to our questions. Enjoy!

On what percentage of your websites do you use PPC? How do you decide whether or not to use PPC on those websites?

At one point or another I like to think I use it on all of them. Most my sites are ad driven or affiliate driven though, so I don’t compete on the core most competitive commercial keywords via PPC for all of them, but I try using PPC for link building in some cases, and use it in others just to get mindshare in the marketplace…you don’t know what single piece of marketing will stick, but if you are doing 10 things in parallel I think they start to feed off each other. Lots of push marketing (and/or viral marketing/public relations) is crucial for a new website or brand.

Do you believe PPC can be both a short term and long term strategy? More one than the other? Why or Why not?

I think for it to be longterm you need to have an efficient sales cycle and a decent brand. If you do not have a well known brand then the branded competitor will likely have fatter profit margins, and can basically take market share from you at will. And if you are working without a brand, quality scores  are helping the competitor and crushing you…tomorrow if not today.

Do you use any secondary ppc platforms like adbrite, miva,, others? Any favorites? Why/why not?

I tried many of them a few years back, but typically have seen ~ 0 volume or lots of volume (driven entirely by click fraud). Based on that experience I never really went back to the 2nd tier engines much…I figured there was more value in refining Google / Yahoo! / Microsoft campaigns, and in brand building or business model improvements rather than hunting out cheaper clicks. Having said that, on some rare occasions I have seen a Searchfeed ad listing or AdBrite ad unit on a page that ranks well in Google’s organic search results and found that to be a cheap way to arbitrage Google traffic, but that is a rare lucky good deal.

Some of the 2nd tier engines have seen that I own and have made me custom ad offers to spam Google in exchange for a nice cut of their revenues (going so far as sending me spreadsheets of their top paying keywords), but since many of their ad buyers were affiliates it did not make sense to go from Google to me to _____ to affiliate to merchant…it would be just as easy for me to sign up for the affiliate program directly. If I was using click fraud then it might make sense to sell them clicks, but how hard is it for me to clone what the affiliate was doing and cut those two out of the transaction?

A friend of mine who was in the forex space swears by some of the second tier engines, but in most markets I think time is best spent optimizing your campaigns on the big 3.

Can you summarize where you think PPC advertising tactics, strategies and ROI are going to be 5 to 10 years from now?

I think many companies are already willingly lose money to buy market share. And I think that trend will only grow as time passes. The days of direct response short term 300% ROI search ads will be over (other than for a short period of time for stuff like the new ring tone reverse billing fraud of the day).

As marketing gets more sophisticated PPC will get too competitive for many small companies to compete. I see search becoming a brand buy more and more as time passes, rather than having such a focus as a direct response medium. Plus some people will be willing to pay to give away what looks like free information, but is essentially a sales message wrapped in fancy value add formatting that does not feel like an ad…much more content of the Teaching Sells variety.

What is one secret to PPC success that you haven’t ever shared before? :)

My affiliate code for signing up with Google is… oh that is the wrong answer. I don’t test PPC stuff anywhere near as well as guys like you do. I don’t really have any PPC secrets beyond using PPC as a link building technique…I think that is overlooked far too often.

Finally, what kind of a time and capital commitment do you recommend a brand new website invest in PPC compared to SEO? What about a 2 year old website? 5+ years?

I think off the start you have to do a base level of link building to get the site going…so that takes about a day and maybe $1,000. From there it is critical that you really find out what keywords convert well such that you can create content around them to optimize your site for them.

One site at the 5 year point might be more screwed up than the next site is at a 5 day point. But no matter where your site is you should keep using PPC to buy mind share and market share, and to test how well your site converts and refine your sales cycle.

If PPC ads seem like they are too expensive then there are likely some issues with your sales cycle or value proposition.

Any additional thoughts about pay per click advertising?

I think you guys know a lot more than I do about PPC. Not sure what I can say to you as a tip! :)

Thanks for sharing Aaron!

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One Response to “Interview: Aaron Wall (SEO On Pay Per Click Advertising”

  1. Stanley (1 comments.) Says:

    I have to say that your blog is pretty cool. If you could add a few more videos I would really appreciate it!

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