The Finite Frontier: Paid Search’s Glass Ceiling

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Paid search is a pillar of online marketing. Few other online channels can give you the quality direct-response traffic that paid search advertising delivers. But there’s a hitch – you cannot scale paid search.


What? But search and the limitless expanse of the internet are joined at the hip, right? Errrr…. let’s look at the mechanics:


  1. Search engines scour the internet and index the content they find
  2. People search for things using specific terms
  3. Search engines return what they determine to be the most relevant results for the given term


Your search volume is only as big as the number of searches made on the specific keywords (relevant to your product or service) that you’re bidding on.


On the broad-niche paid search continuum, the broad end will have high volume, low relevance, high cost, and low ROI. The niche end will have low volume, high relevance, low cost, and high ROI. It’s clear that between the two extremes, paid search performs best (looking at the bottom line) for campaigns on the niche end – but again, it’s not scalable. So what’s an advertiser to do?


First, bring in a professional to help you max out your high ROI efforts on paid search, then keep that humming along and start exploring new programs using tools that are designed to do what you need next – increase your reach in qualified markets. You can’t build a brand on search alone. You need a diversified online marketing plan if you want to grow – especially if you’re a niche player.

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