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6 Frightening Tales from the Paid Search Crypt

6 Frightening Tales from Paid Search

6 Frightening Tales from Paid Search

Paid Search. Nothing seems to strike fear into the heart of a client quicker then the mention of those two horrifying words.

Bring up Search Engine Optimization? No worries; they all want their sites to show up organically.

Link Building? With a little explanation on the intricacies, most see the value these important links play in gaining online exposure.

Social Media? Of course they are interested, it’s the new rage…and if all the cool kids are doing it, they don’t want to miss out on the action.

But the moment you mention Paid Search, a surprisingly large percentage react like you just asked them to sign their soul over to Beelzebub, the dark lord himself. No other Search Marketing medium gets the types of horrified reactions that Paid Search does. This is especially true for small businesses and local clients that have little experience in marketing their businesses online.

But why is that? Why do so many run away screaming like frightened little school kids from this effective and proven form of online advertising?

Well, it seems like most have heard some sort of chilling story of how a friend or friend of a friend’s, or a friend of a friend’s second cousin’s uncle lost their heads with a Paid Search campaign. Just the other day when discussing a Paid Search option with a client looking to generate more online traffic, he said to me in verbatim, “I’m scared to death of Paid Search; I have heard nothing but horror stories.”

Yet the problem with these frightening tales is that the vast majority are ghosts of problems past. So in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, I invite you to gather around the camp fire with me and let the cold darkness of night envelops us. We are going to take a chilling look at some of the most famous of these Paid Search “ghost stories” and try to decipher the facts from the supernatural fiction.

(This is the point in this post where I put the flash light under my chin and eerily illuminate my face…trust me, it adds to the scariness. Wahahahahahahah!)

Invasion of the Budget Snatchers

Invasion of the Budget Snatchers

Invasion of the Budget Snatchers

“As he logged into his account, the color drained from his face. Panic encompassed his entire body, his hands trembled and his mind raced. How could this be? How could this have happened? There in front of him lay what was left of his bank account. Brutally It had been butchered by the gruesome appearance of a deduction for $5000, a charge to his account for just one chilling day’s worth of paid traffic”

Get thee behind me Satan. I’m now possessed with the power of Daily Spending Limits. With the ability to set daily limits, these unexpected charges have become a thing of the past.

The Invisible Click

The Invisible Click

The Invisible Click

“Her account was haunted by a wicked entity. Constant visits from the other side, clicks from automated evil doers, phantom visitors that left no trace they were ever there. Yes, the click fraud spirit had possessed her campaign and it was slowly dragging it down to the shallow grave of cancellation as it drained the life out of her online marketing funds.”

While there may never be a way to completely eliminate the specter of click fraud, the major advertising platforms are continuing to get better at spotting and eliminating it. Plus, paid search users who keep a careful eye on their campaigns and stats can usually spot the occasional case and report it back to their paid search ad company for a refund.

If it wasn’t for these meddling filters and algorithms, the unscrupulous competitors, greedy content site owners and the crazy old guy who lives behind the amusement park just might get away with it. And while this scary story of fraud certainly continues to have some truth to it, with a watchful eye it isn’t worth losing sleep over.

Silence of the Stats

Silence of the Stats

Silence of the Stats

“Where were they coming from? What do they want? How many of these faceless entities disappeared right after they arrived? What are their intentions?”


You no longer need to fear the unknown or consult Madame Clairvoya and her crystal ball to make sense of the mysteries of your paid search traffic. All you need is an Analytics program and you’re on your way to exorcising the hidden truth from your Paid Search campaign.

These programs allow you to find out where your visitors are coming from, what their intentions are, what pages they want to see, and which ones they don’t. Track goals, sales, and leads and delve down into your conversion rates to discover how your campaign is performing and where you can make improvements to bring an underperforming campaign back from the dead.

Night of the Living Window Shopper

Night of the Living Window Shopper

Night of the Living Window Shopper

“They would swarm his site in mass. These cold, zombie like visitors were searching for something. What kept attracting them? Something seemed to be calling out to them and attracting their undead attention. Daily they would arrive, looking to quench their thirst…but for what? They seemed to come from everywhere, yet despite their numbers and despite their frequent visits; they never seemed to find what they want.”


In the past, Paid Search consisted of bidding on your specific keywords, creating an ad and then sending the traffic to a selected page on your site. This was all done with the hope that this paid traffic would materialize into sales or leads.

Things have certainly changed. While the days of $.01 traffic are long gone, with today’s paid search platforms you can fine tune your campaigns like never before. By utilizing geo-targeting, exact, broad & phrase matches, negative keywords, A/B testing, ad testing, and more, you can get your message in front of your prospective customers, instead of the hoard of the unbuying undead.

Nightmare on Agency Street

Nightmare on Agency Street

Nightmare on Agency Street

“From the cold darkness he reached out to them. With promises of wealth and success he lured them into his lair of lies and deceit. All they had to do to was to hand over control of their account. “Trust me,” he told them, “Let me in and I will make everything alright…just sign on this dotted line” This was to be the last mistake they were to make with their paid account. Success and wealth were just imaginary hopes as they soon realized they had just signed over their campaign to the paid search agency devil”


When it comes to Paid Search Management Agencies, there are good ones and there are some down right evil ones. Before hiring a marketing company it is always important that you do your research to make sure you are dealing with an upstanding organization and not a spawn of Satan. Avoid any organizations that cold call or send unsolicited emails, that can’t provide you with references, or claim that they have a special relationship with Google, or any of the other ad platforms.

As there are no set standards in pricing for Paid Search Management it can be difficult to compare one company to the next. However, don’t let the poor practices of a few scare you away from the countless organizations that can help you create a paid search program that will bring your organization a fantastic return on your investment while keeping the nightmares tucked safely away under your bed.

In Ad Space No One Can Hear You Scream

In Ad Space No One Can Hear You Scream

In Ad Space No One Can Hear You Scream

“Nobody goes there, they were told…and the few that do never return. They were warned it was a dead zone, a Bermuda triangle of ads, created to lure in the unexpecting. Nobody in their right mind clicks on them, just the lunatics and criminally insane. You can never be sure where they might take you or what horrible virus they might infect you with. They are nothing but ghoulish advertisements…direct messages straight from the corporate specters of evil”


It is a common misconception that sponsored advertisements don’t get clicked on. While it is true that a percentage of online searchers don’t click on paid ads, there is also a good percentage that do. While there are no concrete stats on this, most estimates show that anywhere from 15% to 40% of searchers will click on sponsored ads, especially if they don’t see what they want organically.

And when you consider that paid search brought in $21 billion in revenue to Google in 2008, you realize that somebody must be clicking on those ads. Paid Search Advertising can be a great tool to solely promote your organization online, or as a complimentary piece to a complete search engine marketing campaign.

Well, that concludes our look at the 6 most terrifying stories from the Paid Search Crypt. Hopefully we have shed some light on the truth behind these horrifying tales. On behalf of the zombies, ghosts and ghouls here at WebRanking, I want to wish everyone a safe Halloween. And remember, whatever you do, don’t fall asleep…

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Reader Comments

  • Scott Orth | October 29, 2009

    Excellent post Chris! A very funny view of EXACTLY what we hear about paid search every day!

  • James | October 29, 2009

    Chris, I love this post! Funny, Geeky & Searchy… what more could you ask for?

  • David | October 30, 2009

    Nice article Chris! I just tweeted to our followers.
    If can be useful for your readers I’ll like to suggest: Use Click Tracking Tools to monitor your PPC campaigns. ClickMeter is an Online Click Tracking Service,useful for beginners and for professional, it can track up to millions click each account. Most of the features are free.

  • sarah b danks | October 30, 2009

    Crreeeeeeeeeeeeepyyyyyyyy. Chris, thanks for tackling these ghosts head-on. I feel like printing this out and giving it to potential PPC clients as a must-read!

  • Elizabeth | November 02, 2009

    The artwork alone is awesome! (And of course the PPC advice is too:)

  • Michael W. | November 02, 2009

    I think the point you made on the “Night of the Living Window Shopper” rings true. Search Engine Marketing really is becoming less about gluts of exposure and more about selecting very targeted audiences.

  • Bert Stanley | November 01, 2010

    Not sold at all on Paid Search!

    I’ve had several clients who spent a fortune on it and yet while they did get a fair number of “leads” per se from it, none of them actually bought anything. And that is the only true judgement of its worth. Did it, as an advertising investment, pay off in added revenues

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