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October 8, 2014

7 Alternatives to Google AdWords for Small Businesses

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Photo Credit: Carlos Luna via flickr

If you’ve been searching for ways to boost your online presence and search engine rankings through PPC advertising, you’ve probably considered Google AdWords. Known as the industry standard, businesses and marketers assume that by using AdWords, they’re doing the right thing. For small businesses, this might be a fatal marketing mistake.

Keep reading to learn more about why Google AdWords might not be the best option for your small business, and check out the seven alternatives outlined below.

Why Google AdWords Might Not Be Your Best Bet

Even if you’re an expert in search engine and keyword optimization, AdWords may present challenges that will not become apparent until you’ve invested time and dollars into the platform.

Other challenges for small businesses attempting to utilize Google AdWords include:

* Competition. Because most companies – including large corporations – use Google AdWords to boost their rankings, the network has become highly competitive, raising the cost of bids on the best keywords. This means that it can quickly become expensive with little in terms of a return.

* Time. It requires effort to get started – especially in the beginning. Because it requires some experimenting, it’s easy to lose money during the start-up phase that could go into something more effective.

* Misunderstandings. With AdWords, it can be difficult to understand where money is spent. Because AdWords is based around bidding on specific keywords and phrases – even though daily budget constraints can be set up front – it’s difficult to know exactly how each dollar is being spent.

* Room for Error. One error can be expensive. If a marketer forgets to set a control or constraint, it can be a costly mistake.

The bottom line is that large companies are driving the prices up on Google AdWords and smaller companies – who don’t have the money to spare – are being left in the dust. When budget is of particular concern and effectiveness is the top priority, other options may be more viable in terms of PPC advertising and SEO optimization.

Here are seven Google AdWords alternatives to try:

1. ExactSeek Traffic Program

ExactSeek’s Traffic Program is a quarterly subscription service designed to help businesses purchase targeted traffic in units of 3000 visitors for about a penny per visitor. Because of the inherent savings, customers can reap the benefits in terms of lower costs. The program is designed to increase targeted traffic from the US, UK, Canada and Australia, is guaranteed and offers flat-rate, competitive pricing.

2. Facebook Paid Ads

If your target customers are using social media, Facebook paid ads might be an excellent starting point for your next PPC campaign. Facebook ads allow brands to reach specific segments within their 1 billion user base. After building a Facebook page, companies can target specific audiences and demographics while testing various versions of each ad. Facebook ads are simple, straightforward and effective for small businesses looking to create an advertising edge. Havahart, a wild animal control company with over 73,000 Facebook fans, uses paid ads to defeat Facebook’s engagement cap and remind their audience of animal lovers about their humane products.

3. Clicksor

Clicksor offers a competitive edge for advertisers looking for a new way to reach a specific market. Clicksor serves millions of impressions each month with flat rates starting at 5 cents. It offers high conversion levels based upon a combination of retargeting, geo targeting, contextual targeting and time targeting technologies. The platform is able to define and understand content-rich websites and matches them with the target keywords of advertisers.

4. ExactSeek Featured Listings

ExactSeek’s Featured Listings combines ExactSeek’s standard traffic program – see #1 above – with traditional sidebar ads on niche search engines and directory listings. Offering a flat rate, small businesses can utilize the tool without worrying about constant monitoring, keyword bidding or fraudulent click schemes that demolish conversion rates. Whether an ad receives 10 clicks or 1000 clicks, the cost per click remains the same.

5. Yahoo! Bing Network

If you still feel most comfortable utilizing an ad service from one of the network giants, the Yahoo! Bing Network is worth considering. Along with featured listings on Yahoo! and Bing, the marketplace includes partner site listings on sites like Amazon and Facebook. The network accounts for nearly 30% of the United States’ online search share. Prices are generally lower per click than AdWords and, while traffic may be lower, the overall quality is regarded as superior. The network offers free trials and allows small businesses to expand their audiences to include individuals who do not search on Google.

6. BuySellAds

For marketers and advertisers interested in traditional banner advertising, BuySellAds is a solid starting point. Regarded as one of the largest networks available as far as distribution is concerned, the network sells over 6 billion ad impressions per month. The marketplace is convenient and transparent reports and processes provide ease of mind for small business owners and marketers who want to know where their money is being spent. The subscription-based service offers real-time campaign tracking, an easy “pause” option for when budgets get tight and a fully automated interface with live support when necessary.

7. BlogAds

For brands with niche markets, blogs may be a more effective advertising location than traditional search engines. If your small business falls into this category, BlogAds may be worth a look. The service specializes in blog and social media advertising by combining a premium sorting system with multiple ad types – including IAB banners, native advertising, custom skins and more – and an easy to navigate system. Ad pricing varies by site and design option – starting at $150 per month – and advertisers maintain control over the process from the start.

Whether you’ve tried Google AdWords without success in the past or are simply searching for inexpensive alternatives, you have control over the process. Evaluate your online advertising goals and look into the services listed above to get started on your next campaign.


Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or get in touch.