Should I Have Yahoo! or Google Set Up My PPC Account?

SEO Question: I am new to pay per click marketing. Should I have Google and Yahoo! set up my pay per click account?

SEO Answer: Indeed Google and Yahoo! both are willing to set up your PPC accounts for you, but I would not recommend Google AdWords Jumpstart or Yahoo! Search Marketing Fast Start.

For small non-competitive niche markets it may not hurt you for the engines to set up your campaigns, but if your market is not well established odds are pretty good that the search engines will not do a good job of deep keyword research (since they will have few competing accounts to build your keyword list from).

In competitive markets many people end up losing money. It benefits the engines if most advertisers bid up some of the most common terms (and thus fully value or overvalue the terms that are frequently searched for). The people who make money off pay per click often avoid or underbid the most common terms, and spend more time thinking laterally and bidding on terms that competitors have not yet found. So the goals of the engines may not be well aligned with your own goals (ie: efficient profitable accounts do not mean the same thing when you look at the perspectives of buyers vs sellers).

For competitive terms that you want to compete on you may want to frequently test and retest your landing page and ad copy to help make their accounts more competitive (so in that regard you need to learn about PPC anyhow).

Google's keyword research tool is constantly improving. There are other free keyword tools on the market as well, like Yahoo!'s or mine.

I was able to write most of what I know about PPC in about 30 pages in this free PDF. I do recommend starting with the largest players (Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and MSN AdCenter), but in a game of margins you really need to do more than accept a default account set up provided by the person selling you traffic.

Also there are a number of questions you can't expect the traffic sellers to honestly answer, like:

  • does PPC even make sense given your current business model

  • what percent of your budget should be spent with a competitor
  • should content syndication be turned on
  • how should you bid on content ads
  • should you bid on the most common terms? what is the best position to rank?

Even if they know exactly what different keywords and ad positions will cost they still do not know your business well enough to know what is best for you. Good accounts should use ad targeting to limit their spend...instead of tying arbitrary budgets to bad bids and bad targeting, but it takes a while of learning and tweaking to set up an appropriate account...more work than most engines would like to do. And could you blame them for not wanting to tweak your account to REMOVE some of their income opportunities?

Keeping in tune with your account and your search data also helps you keep in tune with your customers.

Published: March 15, 2006 by Aaron Wall in Q & A


March 16, 2006 - 5:49pm

I totally agree with this 100%. I work with a number of clients that I get into really deep keyword research and analysis. Many times if they do a custom built program through one of these sites the words often picked make no sense, and are not very targeted, or related for that matter. The best thing to do is to set up the accounts manually when you know the words that you are trying to target. However, if you are not a good ad writter then one benefit for the Fast Track option on Yahoo for example would be having the professionals set up well written ads. Be smart about cause you don't want to just waste your marketing money on words that will do you no good!

March 16, 2006 - 6:01pm

I can't comment on Yahoo, but with Adwords I would say even when the account itself is set up by customer service reps at Google, probably 50% or more of the accounts that come to me have keywords disabled, ads that aren't pulling a high CTR and in general an unprofitable account that I have to then fix.

It takes a couple weeks to tweak an account, you can't just set it up in a day and expect it to work, and that amount of care is far too costly for anyone to provide for 200 bucks or "free".

It's far better to invest in some education first, or if you have the guts, go view all the free videos at and you will at least know just as much as the reps who set up your account.

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