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Google PPC vs Paid Advertising on Other Listing Sites

Lenka Istvanova

by Lenka Istvanova on 17th May 2013

bigstock-Pay-Per-Click-Word-Tags-40497121In today’s Internet world there are many ways to improve your online presence and increase conversions. One of the most common ways is online advertising.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how Google’s PPC compares against other paid advertising options.

There are many forms of online advertising you can employ. These can range from a popular paid advertising on major search engines or social media advertising to display advertising. In addition, paid advertising on listing sites such as Yell.com, Touchlocal.com or other niche industry related sites is also still a very common method used by many businesses.

Understanding your Return on Investment (ROI) is the most important thing when it comes to effective online advertising. A couple of my clients have recently asked me for advice on whether they should continue to advertise on the listing sites such as Yell.com (or other industry related sites). They had a problem with the justification of their spend and therefore demonstration of the value.

My blog post therefore looks at Pay per Click (PPC) advertising on Google Vs advertising on other listing sites, so you can decide which one is right for your business.

First, let’s have a look at the stats; after all, numbers never lie. Search engines play a crucial role when it comes to web search; people use them as the default ‘go to’ points to navigate their way on the Internet. The latest reports from Experien Hitwise and ComScore prove the ‘ultra power’ of Google as the market leader of UK web searches:

  • 89.33% of all UK searches were made on Google
  • There are 18 times more searches made on Google than on all the other search engines combined

In addition, StatCounter Global Stats reported that the top 3 search engines which have sent the most traffic in the UK during the last 12 months include:

  • Google (91%)
  • Bing (4.81%)
  • Yahoo (2.83%)

StatCounter Global Stats - Top Search Engines in the UK

Advertising Reach

With over 89% searches actioned in Google, the biggest advantage of PPC advertising on Google is the size of the market. Your ads can reach a huge range of consumers; highly targeted PPC ads will help to put your website in front of the people who search for keywords pertinent to your products and services.

However, the normal search network isn’t the only place your ads can appear. In addition to search results pages, your ads can be displayed:

  • On other websites
  • On mobile phones, tablets and devices
  • To customers in specific locations or who speak a specific language
  • To specific consumers

On the other hand, paid ads on directory sites (e.g. Yell.com) or different niche industry related sites offer micro targeting. These sites have a very specific and small audience which might still be fairly useful for some businesses. However, as mentioned above, you can also narrow down your target market within Google AdWords.


Tracking is key when it comes to online advertising. Remember, without any data you won’t be able to measure the success and ROI of your ads.

Google AdWords interface enables you to simply find out what campaign, ad or keyword works and which doesn’t. You can tight up the AdWords account with your Google Analytics profiles which will give you even more detailed insights into how your paid traffic affects your site. You can also setup custom dashboards to see, for example which conversions are coming from PPC traffic.

Getting data from ads displayed on the listing sites can be a bit tricky. In some cases (depending on the third party website) you might have to actually wait for it to be sent to you. In addition, you may want to have some additional tracking in place. For example, call tracking is ideal if the aim of your ad is to entice visitors to make a phone call.

Therefore, keep checking the referral traffic data in your Google Analytics account to find out how your paid traffic behaves on your site.

Traffic vs Conversions

As mentioned earlier, advertising with Google enables you to reach a large audience, whereas advertising on local listing sites or industry related sites offers targeting to niche markets and therefore generating highly qualified visitors. However, when it comes to analysing the traffic, the quality of it is the common problem.

This has been a common case with some of my clients’ paid ads that generated a good level of traffic, but with no further actions. For example, in a majority of cases a paid advert on Yell.com was a good traffic driver, but when it came to goal completions, the organic traffic conversion rate was significantly higher than from Yell.com. Another case proved the same result – good level of traffic, but no conversions means no leads or enquiries.

Ad Management

One the key benefits of PPC on Google is that the ads are easily manageable. The Google AdWords interface allows you to tweak your ads ‘on the go’. The ability of being able to change, edit, test and optimise the ad copy whenever you want enables you to monitor and measure which ad works better. You can see underperforming ads and pause them within seconds.

When it comes to tweaking your ads on other listing sites it may take time and you would have to contact your account manager. Therefore a change request for your ads could take days which may have a negative effect on your conversion rate.


Paid advertising on listing sites or other industry specific sites is rather expensive and in most cases you will be expected to pay a monthly fee, no matter how many clicks you receive (or not).

Therefore, before signing the contract make sure that you’ve considered all other options out there. If you are still wondering, try a free trial if possible.

For instance, if you’re thinking of advertising on Yell.com sign up first for free listing and keep monitoring and measuring the traffic, as well as phone calls.

Advertising with Google works on a budgeting system. You can establish a monthly budget and you won’t spend more than that. There is no minimum budget and you pay only for the results, the clicks you receive. If you wish, you can increase or decrease your monthly spend or cancel your campaigns at any time.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Advertising – Final Tips

Test and measure – If you don’t measure the effectiveness of your ads don’t even bother to advertise. You need to be able to justify your spend no matter which form of advertising you choose. Therefore, make sure you monitor your data and don’t forget to track the phone calls too.

Start small – If you have a limited advertising budget then try first free trials. You can also get free voucher to help start with Google AdWords.

Know where your target market is coming fromTake a look at some historic data in your Google Analytics and find out where your traffic is coming from.

Setup your ad correctly and keep optimising Remember that poorly setup and unmanaged campaigns can be very costly. For more information you can download our free white paper and learn the benefits of PPC advertising on Google as well as how to setup your first AdWord campaign.


What’s your opinion or experience with advertising with Google, Yell or any other platform? Which one do you prefer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image Credits

Pay Per Click Word Tags by BigStock

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka has a wealth of experience in the creation and management of Social Media, SEO, PPC, and Email Marketing campaigns. She has a strong passion for all things Digital and Sport related; when she's not competing in marathons she can be found blogging about digital marketing in sport.

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  • Vineeth 28th May 2013

    Google is the best option right now as above 90% of people are using it.But the only problem im facing from Google is their nature of changing their algorithms and updates frequently.Last month they have made a quiet surprising announcement.

    AdWords ads with phone numbers in the text will be disapproved. Advertisers who want to display phone numbers will have to use the call extensions instead.The main reasons are so that they can charge for mobile ad engagements and by displaying phone numbers nobody going to click the ad.So that’s why they have made a smart move ( for them :) )

    Anyway this is a very good article and very informative

    Thanks ,


    Reply to this comment

    • Lenka Istvanova

      Lenka Istvanova 29th May 2013

      Thank you Vineeth!
      I agree with you although I don’t think that advertising on niche industry related sites is a complete waste of money and time. And yes, Google makes us to keep our eyes wide open. However, you can now use call extension without paying for a Google forwarding number.

      Reply to this comment

  • Elina 4th September 2013

    Do you have any idea about Yellowpage paid listing ?

    Reply to this comment

  • anil 16th December 2013

    I have applied for google adsene but they say you are on last stage of conform and site is on review.Its 15 days,no reply and approval. My ads code is still not generated…what shall i do now,help.

    Reply to this comment

  • Heather 7th March 2014

    This is an informative article, but pretty much in favour of Adwords advertising above ‘listing sites’. The fact that a monthly fee is paid for these listings suggests that the cost is always the same for the same exposure. Adwords allows for a budget, but once it is spent, either you increase your budget, or you lose that exposure. Besides, these ‘listings’ can be a lot more than that, with the likes of Applegate offering an individual page on their site for each product/service/search term. But you are right – figure out what works best for you. Thanks.

    Reply to this comment

  • George Andrew 17th June 2014

    I think Google Adwords is really a must have strategy in online marketing specially if you’re website is very young. 90% of the user online search websites using google search engine. You can take advantage of having a targeted audience for a reasonable cost.

    Reply to this comment

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