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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.

About the author


Adrienne Erin

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.


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  • Hmm, I don’t think that they are the alternative to Google Adwords. Google Adwords is 100% times more popular than all of these. You may call them similar service providers, but you can’t assume they are an alternative.

    • Google adwords is still way too popular. But a combination of the other services along with adwords should get good results. Do not put all your eggs into one basket (eg. Google adwords!)

  • Any business owner go for online advertisement some where huge amount of traffic that’s why all are turned to Google Adwords.

    Thanks Erin, Relay appreciable these alternatives of Adwords but if we exclude Facebook then others must analyse in terms of traffic before advertisement.

  • This article is particularly relevant to businesses operating in highly competitive niches, where the Adwords cost can very quickly become unaffordable to the smaller business.

  • Thanks for the alternative list of advertising programs although I’m not sure how well the others would work. Setting up Adwords correctly can work very well for the least amount of spend making your budget go further. If not, your money can go down very quickly and not have anything to show for it.

  • Thank you Adrienne! These list a big money saver for small biz. I’ll test all these other alternatives to Adwords. Hopefully, I’ll find a quality leads with less cost…won’t have to only dependent one source for leads.

  • I have been using Adwords for quite a while without any success. I have also tried FB and no success.

    I will, however, be trying the Exactseek to see what type of traffic visits my site.

    Getting traffic is good, but qualified traffic is the best. They are most likely to lead to conversion.

  • Thank you so much Adrienne – perfect timing for this article, as I am evaluating my current adwords. The alternatives look great.

  • Hello There,
    You’re right, Google Adwords is such a waste of money because there are no guaranteed results promised and fake clicks.

    Sakshi Infoway

  • Thank you for the article, Adrienne. As one poster put it, we would need more numbers on the less popular networks to determine real value here. Facebook, we know, is popular, but I have reservations around the others. Do folks even use ExactSeek anymore? Any ideas on where to determine true search volume and reach for these online marketing resources you cited? Matt

  • Looks like it might be good to try as it would get around the strict google rules on collecting email addresses

  • I spent way too much on Google adwords. Although I did get some traffic, none of it converted to sales. It all boiled down to a complete waste of money that I could ill afford to throw away. I’ll give these sites a look; thanks for sharing.


  • I would welcome another source for SEO, but I’m afraid google has the market cornered. I will try some of these others and see how they compare. I have used google before and it was somewhat effective, but costly. I’m a small business owner who tries to save $$$ wherever I can, but by the same token cannot afford to waste time to save dimes.

  • A lot of people are talking about AdRoll for Facebook retargeting. Can anyone recommend reputable AdRoll alternatives for Facebook retargeting? I’m going to start playing with this soon!

  • My experience with Adwords matches Erin’s warning exactly. Up until maybe a year ago, you could ignore the Adword requirement to match the recommended bid, put up, say, a 10ct max bid, and the Adword computers would still give you a substantial amount of impressions. Keywords are routinely asking for $5 max bids, and all my ads have been shut down this way.

    That’s why I’m here today, looking for an alternative.

    • Both Adwords and Bing are handing out $100 vouchers to anyone with a pulse. So, the guy bidding $5 for your keyword pays with a free voucher and not with real money. No wonder bids are high. It voids the concept of an auction, if some people can pay with Monopoly money while others have to pay with real money.

      I’m surprised no one is complaining.

  • Outstanding article about Paid advertising. I am a small business owner and wanted to use many networks simultaneously to diversify the campaigns. In this way we can get good results cost effectively.

  • Great article. We also found that Adwords is not a great fit for our industry. There’s simply too much competition and very little conversion per click. Are all of those clicks real anyway?

  • I have a small business and I use goomito marketing is a marketing service at very low prices

  • please i will pay anyone that can guide me or help me on how to post google adword. i need someone who deals with it so that if i have problems along the line i may go back for refferences ,,,please anyone interested can reach me yahoo messenger : japobenny2012 or send me an email at japobeny2012 at gmail dot com

  • Google is still king for PPC, but a viable budget alternative to consider is Exact Seek PPC. Think I pay $15 for three months. Fixed price so if you only get 1 click or 1 million still $15 every three months. Worth a punt!

  • If you’re pumping as an alternative to Google, or, in fact, anything but 100% scam, then you, dear, must be a co-scammer. Sorry, this is not a marginal or borderline possibility, we have scoured, and cannot find a SINGLE sale attributed to Serious super-scam

  • I would welcome another source for SEO, but I’m afraid google has the market cornered. I will try some of these others and see how they compare. I have used google before and it was somewhat effective, but costly. I’m a small business owner who tries to save $$$ wherever I can, but by the same token cannot afford to waste time to save dimes.

  • Thank you so much Adrienne – perfect timing for this article 🙂 , as I am evaluating my current adwords. The alternatives look great especially at clicksor ads section.

  • One decent alternative is Cost per Opt in marketing. Where you pay only when a profiled individuals opts in to hear from your specific brand. you can test this out on

  • I tried ExactSeek – I got a massive increase in site visits, but zero increase in sales of my books. Also, Google appeared to treat my site with suspicion for some time afterward.

    I don’t know why you’re recommending them.

    Google Adwords have been useless to me for some time, but Bing was no better. I’m still searching for an alternative

  • Google adwords is still way too popular. But a combination of the other services along with adwords should get good results. Do not put all your eggs into one basket (eg. Google adwords!)

  • Google adwords is still way too popular. But a combination of the other services along with adwords should get good results. Do not put all your eggs into one basket (eg. Google adwords!)

  • These are not great alternatives. I love Google Adwords and have much success with it, however, they are too expensive for the amount of traffic Im trying to get.

  • I try some sources from here and some give me good results but only with a huge budget for advertising.A good place to buy traffic is

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