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SEMrush Toolbox #16: CPC Map




Craig Campbell: Hi, and welcome to today's SEMrush webinar where I'm joined by Navah Hopkins, who I'm sure many of you will have spoke to or heard of or watched before.

Today, we're going to be talking about the CPC Map Tool. But, for anyone who doesn't know who you are, Navah, do you want to give the audience just a brief intro of where you work, what you've been doing?

Navah Hopkins: Sure, and thank you for the intro, Craig, and thank you for hosting me as always, SEMrush. 

My name is Navah Hopkins. I'm the Services Innovation Strategist over at WordStream. We help folks manage their Google, their Bing, their Facebook. We have a software tool, an agency. What I specifically am very proud of the work I've been doing, I've been on the international speaking circuit, recently made the top 25 PPC Influencers. I'm excited to hopefully see you at PubCon come October. 

Craig Campbell: The speaking thing, is that something you're enjoying doing a lot more of or do you still get nerves? What's your take on that?

Navah Hopkins: What's really interesting is that, when you speak to a room full of five, versus a room full of five hundred, the room full of five is almost always more intimidating because that's a workshop conversation. That's a debate. That's working through things. 

A group of 500, you can kind of get away with just sharing what you want to share. But what's been kind of interesting is that the trends of what we all on the speaking circuit share externally has kind of seemed to come full circle.

SEMrush CPC Map Tool Overview

Craig Campbell: I think we'll now press ahead and start with the webinar. I'm going to go through the tool; give you a brief introduction of how the tool works. After my presentation, Navah is going to give us some insights as to how she uses the CPC Map Tool and some various other bits of good information around about pay-per-click.

The first thing about the CPC Map Tool is where to find the tool, which we always show people. On your navigation, on the left-hand side, you can go down to CPC Map just here. You just simply click on it, as you normally do with any other tool. 

You can see the tool, the nice dashboard, it's kind of interactive, it's got quite a couple of funky features there. You can actually zoom in on this map as well, which we'll go into in a minute.

What the CPC Map Tool does is it gives you data and insights into the cost-per-click in various different areas. Now, this is the map of the United Kingdom, where I'm based. But we do have America, which that map will be more familiar with Navah and various other ones out there. 

SEMrush, I'm sure, will be rolling out other maps going forward. I'm going to select the UK just for, you know, because I understand it slightly better, for this demonstration.

If you click on the middle one here, you can go into very specific regions, whether that's the East Midlands, Greater London, up into Scotland which is where I'm from. It will show the map on there anyway, in yellow, if you select it. You can obviously select the currency of where you're located as well. GBP is Great British Pounds, so that gives me an idea of the kind of cost-per-click in Scotland.

You've got various different industries, so we have 17 industries at the moment, and these are all listed here. You've got Legal, Marketing and Advertising, Banking, Pharmaceuticals, Travel and various other ones there. 

You can click whatever one you like, you know, I'm going to do Internet and Telecom. What happens here, is over on the right-hand-side, you'll be able to see the most expensive keywords, the most popular keywords, based on search volume and the kind of average cost-per-click. That basically gives you a rough idea of the average cost-per-click for those search terms in Scotland, for example. 

But you can then go down to the North East of England, for example. You'll see Scotland is, 64 pence is the average cost-per-click for that particular industry. I can go down to the North East of England and it's 24 pence. The darker blue is more expensive. The lighter it gets, the cheaper the cost-per-click is. 

If I was doing pay-per-click for a nationwide campaign, would I spend all my budget on Scotland? Or would I look to take advantage of say, the North East and the North West of England, where the cost-per-click is actually, round about half of what I would be paying for? 

If you're working with a tight budget or you're just starting out in business, then you may want to understand where you're going to find cheaper cost-per-clicks. You know, the great thing about that is, you can utilize the budget better, you know, if you're doing it for a client, you can get more clicks and they're going to think you're amazing. 

You can literally go through various different industries here, you know, automobile, local cars for sale is £5.01. I can click, and the most popular keywords are there as well. You'll be able to see, again, the kind of average cost-per-clicks in Scotland or wherever it may be. 

Now, PPC demand as well, an average volume, it's a different tab there, so just make sure you click on it and it will bring up a bunch of different data. Marketing and Advertising, you know, 8.28%. The higher this is, the more demand there is. 

But you can see there... Cryptocurrency or Online Banking, there are massive demands in those industries and there's a little less in something like Pharmaceuticals. I think the PPC cost, for me personally, is what I would be looking for, in terms of data and being able to establish kind of cheaper regions and stuff like that, throughout the UK, if I was going to be managing a campaign. 

Now, the next tab along, which is Compare, you can compare countries, regions, and industries, at present. For example, if I wanted to compare the UK data, compared to the Brazilian data. If you're probably working for companies the size of Navah, who target various different countries then you're going to see that your money may be better spent in Brazil, or you're going to get more bang for your buck in Brazil.

Now, over on the top right-hand-side here, you can export that data as well. So, you might want to export that data just to give the client some kind of information, you know, some data, so that they can actually understand why you're making these decisions, based on the kind of cost-per-click, as well. 

That is pretty much the CPC Map. There is a user manual up on the top right-hand-side, where you can click on it and it will give you a lot more information on CPC Map Tool, why you should use it and everything else.

That is the brief introduction to the tool. There's nothing else there that it does at present. 

Three Key Business Cases for the CPC Map Tool

Navah Hopkins: Thank you so much for the wonderful walkthrough and for everyone already asking those beautiful questions and already giving some product feedback. We're now going to take a deeper dive into what I see as the three main business cases of the CPC Tool Map, yeah. 

First and foremost, I want to talk about selling clients and also selling our bosses on the budgets that we need. Because different locations have different auction prices, different cost-per-clicks for different ways of searching. But then also, we need to make sure that we're setting budgets that fit our conversion rates. 

Then we're going to talk about two distinct choices. Choosing your market and choosing your keywords. As Google has evolved quite a bit, as Microsoft Bing has evolved quite a bit. To be fair, Facebook as well, there are certain locations that by the nature of affluence, by the nature of competitive demand, are going to be more expensive. Where you decide to invest your budget needs to be a business case, first and foremost, that you will make enough money, that the marketing efforts are worth your time. 

We're then going to look at the keyword piece and how different people search in different ways in different parts of the country, different parts of the world. How we may want to actually leverage certain ways of searching over others, in different parts of the country, not just because they're cheaper but because when people search in those ways, they're more valuable, they're going to convert more. 

Convincing Clients on the Optimal Ad Budget

So, selling clients. Helping clients understand what budget they need is really really tough. Clients are always going to, or bosses are always going to want to work with or have us work with as little as possible. But here's the thing, the CPC Map can help us, help clients understand, what budget they need to bring to bear. 

As a rule, no bid in a search campaign should exceed 10% of the daily budget. The reason for that is that a 10% conversion rate on a non-branded campaign or search campaign is actually really really good.


If you're banking on a better than 10% conversion rate, A, you're banking on almost the impossible for a non-branded search campaign but you're also setting your search campaign up to fail. When we're looking at that CPC map, there are going to be certain locations that are predisposed to meet that brief. There are going to be certain ways of searching that are predisposed to meet that brief.

Craig illustrated this already so I won't spend too much time going into the mechanics. But one actually really interesting piece about how a budget gets allocated in a different part of the country is where is the data the strongest, where are there the most people. 

Interestingly enough, some of the strongest cost-per-click regions - California, Texas, Florida, New York - ironically enough tend to be where Google will put your money anyway if you target the US. You really want to be very very careful when you're setting your location targets that you're accounting for where will Google and Microsoft and Bing be predisposed to put your budget, versus where will you get the most value out of your budget.


We tend to display impression share, or of all available impressions how many are you getting, as a bar graph because it's just a very visual way to see how much of your potential are you getting. A lot of times you'll be told that you're losing impression share to rank, simply because you're budgeting for too many locations. There are too many auction prices in the mix. 

Sometimes you'll be told that you're losing impression share to budget because you are trying to bid on too many things and there isn't enough budget to support all of them. As a rule, I don't like to include more than five to seven adverts per campaign and I also like to make sure that I'm consolidating my search result pages to be the most valuable. 


When we're showing folks what locations to include, definitely consider leveraging that ad preview diagnosis in Google and Bing, or Google and Microsoft Ads. Because what you can actually show them when they say “Okay, I can't afford this location.” or, “I can't afford this way of searching.” You show them the sort of search result page they'd be missing out on. 

One of those ways that you can get additional traffic is by actually looking for specifically different ways of searching. In this client example, we have a machinery moving company that happens to do also rigging work. And rigging, by the nature of the keyword, happens to be so much cheaper than moving.



Just by the sheer fact that it's a cheaper way of searching on all the different variants of singular, plurals, misspellings, one word being turned into two words, two words being turned into one word, Rigging was able to get us that many more conversions out of our budget and drive down that cost of acquisition. 

Be empowered to challenge your clients, be empowered to challenge your boss on going after maybe cheaper ways of searching so that you can fit within the budget. But if they absolutely can't move, then just make sure that they know what they're getting into. 

Focusing on Value vs Volume in PPC 

On the conversation of choosing markets, Google, as I mentioned will put budget where the data is strongest. If you target a country, you may not actually get the regions that you want. You want to make sure that you're using good adjustments and exclusions to focus that budget.


When the market is worth the juice or there's an expression the juice is worth the squeeze. California real estate is really expensive. But that makes sense. Highly competitive, lots of population, limited inventory, so the average cost-per-clicks for California real estate are going to be really really high. 

But you'll notice that the volume terms are not actually houses, they're apartments and renting. You also want to be careful about where are you focusing, are you focusing on the value of what you actually want? Or the volume play? 


There may be instances where some of these folks looking to rent could be put into a purchasing equation but it's very very rare. Odds are that volume play is not actually where you want to invest your budget so be mindful when you're advising your clients when you're building the budgets for yourself that you know what you want out of your spend.

Just because a location seems expensive, doesn't mean it's not worth going after. Sometimes what we'll actually do is we'll pull California or Texas because they tend to, in the States, tend to be the most expensive. 

We'll pull them out into their own campaign because the value of those locations is so great that it's worth budgeting for. But we don't want those bids, we don't want that kind of spike contaminating our core campaign. 

Be mindful when you're looking at the CPC Map, it's not just about identifying the auction price of a location and saying you're expensive, you're cheap, I'm going with cheap. It's also about identifying what are the locations that I might need to build a campaign for or I might need to sacrifice certain locations because this location is so important to me and my business.

I've kind of made this point but I want to make sure that you own it. If the lifetime value or average order size of a customer is better in a certain part of the country, go for it. You absolutely should not be stubbing your toe on trying to save money, if it's getting in the way of you scaling yourself profitably. This is not to say you should throw money away. But absolutely, unequivocally invest in your most important areas.


Optimize PPC Campaigns by Analyzing How People Are Searching

We're now going to pivot to the keywords themselves. I've mentioned this before, but it again bears repeating: different people search and think in different ways. 

What I find really fascinating, particularly in the B2B space, you see a lot of platform, software, cloud hosting. Some of these terms are really expensive, some of these terms are maybe cheaper but the volume on research tends to be higher than the volume on the transactional user. 

So, software tends to have more volume in the States, but platform more often than not is someone looking to buy. You don't want to fall into that volume over value trap, but you also want to test, in your own internal data, where are your best customers searching, and how are they searching. 

Now, certain keyword concepts are always going to elevate the price. I actually read this great blog post this morning... kind of reading through the lines and how cloud, the cloud is dead and I'm secretly really happy about that because cloud is one of the most expensive ways to jack up the price on IT keyword concepts. 

This, by the way, if you haven't had the chance to explore, is the Keyword Magic Tool within SEMrush. It is a fantastic, fantastic way to do that keyword intelligence. 

I do like looking at the CPC Map, not just for the cost, but for volume so that you can make an intelligent decision on close variants. As a reminder close variants mean that Google will match you regardless of match type to singular, plural, slight misspellings, one word being turned into two words, two words being turned into one word, abbreviations, ing or ed, so on and so forth.


In some cases, the plural is actually cheaper than the singular but will grant you again that same traffic. You will want to test that in the beginning. You may want to be a little bit more open with your match types in the beginning and then as that data comes through you can make those intelligent decisions. 

I have some actions for you and then we'll go into general Q and A. The first one is build budgets based on market factors. Don't build a budget and then make your initiatives fit it. Think about what you want to do. Come up with a budget that can fit those ideas. And prioritize. 

Own your valuable markets and absolutely play favorites on budget allocation. It is not okay to bid on everything and be average at everything. Pick your profit centers, invest in them, grow them, scale. Honor the unique ways that people search and think by location. The CPC Map is a great way to start. 


SEMrush has so many amazing keyword research tools. Google Trends is a great way to do this but absolutely be empowered to take that extra step and invest in that intelligence-gathering process. 

Using Other Tools for PPC 

Craig Campbell: Cool, cool, cool. We will go through some of the questions I've got already. There was one guy in the YouTube chat and he was asking “How can I use keywords and CPC Map together?” It's not within the tool to do that together, but you know what would be your best advice on using keywords and CPC map together?

Navah Hopkins: Okay, so the CPC Map, in its current state, gives you the highest volume terms, as well as the most expensive ones. I would use those in conjunction with the Keyword Magic Tool within SEMrush, in order to find the close variants that will work for you. 

As well as identifying what terms, what kind of root terms, should be the cornerstone for your campaign per location. For example, Colorado versus Florida with lawyer versus attorney. You may need to have one of those as a single word, an exact match within your campaign. But you can use the CPC Map to decide which location should you start off with which. Ultimately you can change it, but yeah. 

Craig Campbell: The next question is... “What other tools within SEMrush does Navah use to collect all of the data to do full research on the kind of keywords to go for and the best ones to target?” 

Navah Hopkins: The Keyword Magic Tool, unequivocally do that. I also strongly recommend looking at the Domain Overview. I would recommend looking at, what's it called, this is not SEMrush but there's a plugin called Keyword.io and also Keywords Everywhere when you do searches and it will actually pull out open on the search different queries and different keywords that could have resulted in that term. 

I am a big believer in quote-unquote organic keyword analysis, which is look at the ad preview diagnosis, do searches, get results back. But the Keyword Magic Tool specifically is one of my absolute favorite ways of getting that intelligence. 

How to Analyze PPC Keywords for Cheaper Variants

Craig Campbell: Excellent. The next question we have is from William Rock. He's asking, “When working with large campaigns, do you have a way to tell what word may be a close match variant across the entire campaign to reduce bidding on similar, like your law example?” 

Navah Hopkins: All right, so the way that you would do this within, if you don't have WordStream is you look at your search terms, put the keyword in, the keyword matched by and the matched by column and you do a whole bunch of segmentation and you look for that root keyword term. 

WordStream has a tool called the Query Stream which will actually show you the specific queries that resulted off of the specific keyword and then you can see the number of queries that resulted exactly matched versus how many terms that you're already bidding on, have that traffic stolen away. 

A very common thing that happens with folks that have not optimized for close variants yet, where they have every single spelling of their brand name, where they have a whole bunch of exact match keywords in different orders. You will actually see that one or two of them have the lion's share of the impressions, that have in fact resulted in queries that resulted or that should have gone to those other terms. 

In terms of optimization off of that, I tend to favor no more than five to seven ad groups per campaign and no more than three to five keyword concepts per ad group for the very simple reason that it's easier to control for variants when you build a structure like that.

If you have giant ad groups, giant campaigns, it's almost impossible to not only optimize all of it because there's a ton but also to tell Google to put budget behind all those different pieces. 

When to Overspend on a Keyword

Craig Campbell: The next question is, “Is there any instance where you would spend more than the 10% of your daily budget?” You mentioned at the start of the webinar that you wouldn't bid more than 10% of your daily budget on a particular keyword. 

Navah Hopkins: That's me being a pragmatist. Lawyers, for example, are the classic example that comes to mind where a lawyer will budget say $2500 a month for leads but then their clicks are $200 per click or $50 per click or whatever it is per click. 

Sometimes you do need to move off of that guideline. It is a guideline, not a rule. However, when you set a budget that cannot support at least 10 clicks per day, you are banking on a better than 10% conversion rate. 

What you have to ask yourself is, knowing that your landing page still has that really difficult task of turning that user into a qualified lead, closing the deal, that your sales team still has to engage and close them and they could be the perfect customer but it's just not the right time, are you willing to make those odds even harder?

Bidding on Competitors’ Branded Search Terms

Craig Campbell: Perfect. And the next question is, “What's Navah's thoughts on bidding on someone else's brand?”

Navah Hopkins: Do it, do it, do it! I tend to joke that I'm like a PPC Sith, like power and passion at all costs but in all seriousness. When it comes to competitor campaigns, competitor campaigns have a place, provided that you are choosy about your competitors and you actually invest the time and effort to craft creative, that celebrates why you're amazing, not why they're terrible. 

With competitor campaigns, I tend to have it as an ad group per competitor. The ad will speak to the specific reasons why you're amazing and I expect that the conversion rates, the quality score, the click-through rates are low. 

Because the job I'm looking for that campaign to do is not to convert perfectly. The job I'm expecting it to do is to secure a random conversion, sure, but more importantly, increase my own brand awareness in a market that I would not have otherwise had access to. 

For example, Boston Dental, like obviously, if I'm looking for a Boston dentist with the nature of close variants, Boston dentist, Boston dental are going to be the same thing. Sometimes you can't avoid bidding on competitors. 

Craig Campbell: I've got my own question I want to ask you as well, with the whole bidding on a competitors brand. I'm, just to get the picture clear, I'm not a pay-per-click expert by any stretch of the imagination, but if I was to want to bid on a competitor's name, would that be something you would recommend doing on a different AdWords account?

Navah Hopkins: Oh no! There was a question on the YouTube that asked about copyright so I want to address both. You cannot have the competitors name in the ad. That will get you disapproved. Google does not mess around with that. Bing does not mess around with that. You will get disapproved. 

It is absolutely a-okay to bid on a competitor term in the ad group and it is absolutely okay if you're in the States. I know in Europe you can't do this. But in the States, to actually have a landing page that talks about why you're better than the competitor.

In terms of the campaign, or setting up a new account. The reason you'd set up a new account is for one of three reasons. Reason number one, there were other policy issues that got you so riddled with disapprovals, that you just want a clean slate. 

Competitor campaigns are almost never going to be the reason that you have policy issues. The reason you would get policy issues is because your landing page kept doing redirects or something like that. 

The second reason that you would build a brand new account is if you're going internationally. Google serves ads in the timezone of the account, not the user. If you are doing your scheduling and Google has to account for that, you may find it easier to have an account per major market so you can build out the campaigns for that market. 

Then the final reason is, say the whole account was a smart campaign, so Google Ads Express, and you wanted nothing to do with the Google Ads Express from the past, that's a clean slate. But other than that, no, competitor campaigns are so fair game. It's in the ad creative that you can't have competitors in there.

Using Your Own Branded Keywords in Ads

Craig Campbell: The next question we've got here is, “Do you recommend using your own branded keywords in your Google ads?”

Navah Hopkins: I answered the question in YouTube as like an emphatic yes, but I'll give now more information for the general group. Branded campaigns do something really fascinating. A, they have some of the best metrics, so they elevate the overall quality and equity of all of your other campaigns in the account. 

When Google is looking to assess, is this a reputable advertiser, what kind of conversion data are they generating? That branding campaign gives it a really big boost. 

Second thing it does is that it ensures that you own your branded page. Well if you don't bid on your branded terms, your competitors unequivocally will and it's not a question of right or wrong, it's a question of it's going to happen, do you want to be left out? 

Branded terms tend to be a lot cheaper, on the average, than your traditional search terms, which brings me to my next point that if you don't have a branded campaign, oftentimes, branded queries will get routed into traditional search terms, artificially driving down the cost-per-click. 

You think you're crushing it and doing great when in fact almost all those queries are branded.

Alternatives to Google and Bing for PPC

Craig Campbell: You mentioned that you potentially look at Bing for other opportunities, you know, out with Google. What other places can people go to for kind of pay-per-click that you would recommend, to get some clicks?

Navah Hopkins: It depends on what the initiative is. I kind of look at all the different channels as having different jobs. Google search is the salesperson.

YouTube, Facebook is really good for community building and you want to bid and budget for it accordingly. If you're shopping or e-commerce, you're kind of going to have that hybrid approach of Google and Facebook and Bing doing your shopping, there's a bit of shopping on YouTube as well.

But in terms of truly out there initiatives, I like, Quora is good for content marketing, I like it a lot. Amazon, if you're e-commerce is both great and horrible, it's kind of like you're eating into your own profits to get at the volume. 

Waze is a surprising one that no one ever thinks of but is actually super clever for local because Waze gives you all of the beauty of geo-fencing. Because someone is in a particular market you can target them and you get those impulse purchases that you never would have gotten otherwise and Waze is just like you never think of it as a marketing platform but it's actually super clever. 

Craig Campbell: Sadly that is all we have time for today. Thank you to everyone who attended today and all the questions and everything else. Thank you Navah for being on today, it's been a pleasure.

Navah Hopkins: Thanks for having me.

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