Should I Start with Cheap or Expensive Keywords?

A reader wonders: 

Is it wise – after using and seeing what my competitors pay per keyword – to focus on the less expensive keywords with the higher ROI and leave the most expensive keywords for when I finally get the hang of this?

For example, one of the more “popular” keywords in my field is a $15.34 price/click, whereas another “popular” keyword is only $.05 price/click.

My response: 

Think of AdWords as a really powerful sports car – you can do amazing things with it, getting to places much faster than you could with any other medium – but you can also rev the engine and drive into a brick wall second after turning the key.

Make sure you practice in an environment where your worst mistakes aren’t fatal. Stay in first gear, drive slowly, stay away from racetracks, and make sure you’re wearing a seatbelt. Also, keep the airbags operational.

When you’re starting out and you don’t know  your ROI, you don’t really know which keywords are “expensive” and which ones are “cheap.” Ultimately, everything depends on ROI – what can you bid on profitably? If the expensive kw brings you sales and the cheap one doesn’t, then the cheap one is actually more expensive.

But you can’t know that until you take the keywords live and follow the money. So until you know the value/click of each keyword, you’re either betting or paying tuition.

At this point, pay only for wisdom. Figure out how many clicks you need to assess profitability. Then find keywords priced cheaply enough to afford that tuition. Once you can get them working, tackle the more expensive (which means more competitive) keywords.

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