Paid Search Pricing: How Much Does AdWords & PPC Management Cost?

Author Larry Engel - SEO Director at OuterBox
by Justin Smith
Updated Jan. 26, 2019

If you're looking for an agency to manage your paid search or Google AdWords campaign, then you're probably wondering what costs and fees are associated with management.

Deciding to hire paid search experts is a step in the right direction, allowing the experts to take over and make the most of your campaign. Without an AdWords management agency it's very possible that you're spending too much and not getting the ROI you should be. The costs associated with management of the campaign should pay for itself as our team will lower your cost per click and boost conversions. So, what does paid search management pricing look like?

PPC Management Pricing Models

Whether you're looking to hire an low-cost overseas agency or a professional paid search management company, there are different pricing models that you'll expect to see:

  • Flat Fee + % of Spend

    The most common billing model and the standard in the industry, a flat monthly fee plus a percentage of your monthly spend is a very popular. The flat fee allows the agency to block out necessary time for your campaign each month for maintenance tasks. If you have a large paid search campaign, fees for a percentage of spend allows for additional time to manage the larger account. Remember, the more you're spending the more attention you want your agency to be giving you! Base fees can range anywhere from $250-$2500 a month and percentage of spend is usually between 7%-15%.

  • Hourly Rate

    Typically individuals or contractors will offer an hourly rate and bill hourly for their work. This can work if you have a smaller campaign that doesn't require a team of experts. Hourly rate, depending on the country the individual works in, can range anywhere from $30-$250 an hour. The average US based agency bills around $150-$200 an hour, while overseas agencies will charge a much lower fee. Remember, if you're working with an overseas agency, expect language barriers and phone calls at 2am.

  • No Fee (watch out!)

    A fairly popular plan some agencies are now trying sell is the "free" management plan. With these campaigns they will often run the campaign through a 3rd party software and will be given commission on every dollar you spend. Usually the keywords they are able to bid on are discounted, low volume keywords. These types of campaign can sometimes work for local business, but I do not recommend attempting to run a paid search campaign with model for national exposure.


Overall, how much does PPC cost?

The cost of paid search comes down more to ad spend than management fees. While management fees can run you a few thousand a month (or much more if you have a large campaign), your actual ad spend with Google or another provider can range from $500-$500,000 a month. Decide how many visits you feel you need to reach your business goals and use Google's keyword planner tool to research keywords you would want to purchase.

After entering your keyword or keywords, you'll end up with a screen like this:

Google Keyword Planer for PPC and AdWords Campaign Planning

While it isn't 100% accurate until you actually get your campaign up and running, it'll give you an ideal of cost per click on the low end and high end if you want to be at the top of the Google results. Remember, there are two ways to drive traffic to your website, through paid search and through SEO. It often makes sense to create a campaign with a blend of both services.

Local PPC Campaign Pricing

There are big differences between a national paid search campaign and a local campaign. Not only will management fees be lower on a local campaign, but the cost per click is usually significantly lower. Cost per click is based on a bidding model and less people are bidding on a local keyword search as "SEO Company Cleveland" than the phrase "SEO Company". Even if you're a national player, it may still makes sense to find some local keywords in key markets to drive traffic and leads at a lower cost.

Paid Search Management Services Pricing vs. ROI

As we begin to talk about the fees associated with paid search it can feel expensive, but it all comes down to the ROI the campaign provides. Look at it this way: if you spend $1 and make $5, its worth it every time. Of course to get this type of return you'll need to have a very well managed and optimized PPC campaign. Remember, there is no need to jump in with huge spend right away, but you do need to spend enough to get an idea of what is working and what is not. You can scale your spend up each month as you prove an ROI on previous spend.

Still Have Questions About PPC Pricing?

We hope after reading you feel more prepared to choose the best PPC management agency to make your campaign successful! If you have additional questions, talk with our expert AdWords team by calling 1-866-647-9218 or requesting a free quote.

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