The Highest CPCs and How to Beat Them

The highest CPCs, and how to beat them


If you have used Google AdWords or Bing Ads, or know a little about either platform, then you’ll almost certainly have heard of cost per click rates (or “CPCs”). A CPC means you will only pay when someone clicks on your ad, and a maximum CPC is the highest amount you’re willing to pay to compete in the silent auction. If someone clicks your ad, your click won’t cost more than the allocated max. CPC.

So, how much does AdWords or Bing Ads actually cost you? Well, it all depends on your Quality Score, overall budget and – probably most importantly – what industry you’re in. So, why does it cost more depending on your industry?

According to WordStream (my fave AdWords blog by the way), the most expensive keywords are:

  1. Insurance
  2. Loans
  3. Mortgage
  4. Attorney
  5. Credit
  6. Lawyer
  7. Donate
  8. Degree
  9. Hosting
  10. Claim


These keywords are largely orientated around finance and law – highly competitive industries that deal with massive sums of money, leading to higher CPCs. The money they have brings them the power to massively outbid their competitors to win the auction and the sale.

WordStream also note that as “degree” is up there, it shows the growing cost of education – both in the UK and the US.

Some of the most expensive specific terms in the US and the UK are around mesothelioma (lawyers), which is a form of cancer related to exposure to asbestos. Within this sector, it has been reported that clicks climb to well over £70 (and this CPC was reported back in 2003…). That is £70 every time someone clicks your ad!

Not just for mesothelioma, but for pretty much all the industries above, it becomes pretty obvious that the big boys are bidding so much on these terms to outbid their competitors because the rewards they can reap – like winning a mesothelioma case – are phenomenal. Success here can pay for their AdWords budget for a year and the rest! So, naturally they have the budget to invest back into winning new cases. These industries mean they can bring home the bacon big style; their margins are huge.

Bigger companies are also more likely to bid on more generic terms, which are going to be more expensive anyway, so this is another thing that ramps up the average CPC.

However, saying all this, average CPCs can be pretty reasonable – it largely depends on what keywords you target. Targeting long-tail keywords can bring down your CPC whilst driving relevant traffic to your website.

This infographic highlights the averages. Even though they are averages with much lower CPCs than £70, legal industries stick out like a sore thumb:

What are the highest CPCs?



So, it becomes very clear that there is a trend that the more money an industry can make and the better the margins, the more expensive the CPCs are.

This isn’t just the case for Google, check them out for Bing too:

How to beat high CPCs



Fortunately, there are ways you can bring down your average CPC as much as possible; it all comes down to PPC basics:

  • Quality Score, Quality Score, Quality Score! Did I mention Quality Score? This is really the foundation of a PPC campaign that smashes it out of the park. Focus on this, and you can have lower CPCs for better ad positions. Winner! We’ve written about Quality Scores before, and will be publishing a guide to improving your own score soon – watch this space!
  • Make it as easy as possible for someone to contact you or purchase from you. The fewer steps needed, the better. Not everyone wants to pick up the phone, so provide a quick contact form and an email address (whack some event tracking on those) so that you’re catering for everyone’s preferred method.
  • Ad relevancy – split out those keywords and make your ads specific to your keywords; especially so for long-tail keywords.
  • My favourite thing – negative keywords! These are just as important as positive keywords in my opinion. Protect your campaigns with extensive negative keyword lists, regular SQRs and negative ad groups within each other to make sure you have the more relevant terms showing at that key moment.
  • Landing page experience – please don’t make me sad and send all your ads to the home page. You need relevant landing pages for every one of your ads. If you don’t have a specific-enough landing page, I would definitely make it a priority to get some new landing pages created.
  • Google recently promoted the top 5% of agencies in their Google Partner scheme to Premier Partners. So, I would really suggest you get one of these newly promoted agencies to give you a hand, as they know what they’re talking about. Oh, HELLO.
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