Beware of Oversimplified Paid Search Advice

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I recently had a client in the fulfillment niche that shared a post from one of his contacts on LinkedIn. The post was advice for Paid Search for 3PLs. (In case you don’t know 3PL stands for Third Party Logistics). The advice the connection gave was overly simplified and a bit misleading.

I’m going to paraphrase the post so that I don’t give away who it was.

“What keywords should I use for my 3PL in Google Ads?”
Use these:

– 3PLs in [city, state]
– 3PLs for [niche]
– 3PLs for [service]
– 3PLs for [specific solution]

The more specific, the better!

Start with a bid of $50/day.

Now Let’s Look at Why This is Bad Advice For Paid Search

To test this idea, I put “3pl for” into the Google Ads keyword planner, and it only produced 20 recommendations. Yes, only 20.

3pl for paid search keywords

Keyword planner is a tool where you can put in a seed keyword phrase, and Google Ads will find recommendations based on what people are searching for and clicking on in Google Search.

Some things to look at here:

  • Google Ads only finds 20 examples. While, I know that sometimes it is good to bid on things that don’t necessarily show up in the Keyword planner. Only 20 examples from such an open-ended search is quite a low number. If I use “3PLs for” it shows only 9 suggestions!
  • The Top of Page Bid. This is how much it will cost per click to get on the top of the page. These keywords can get pretty expensive. With a budget of only $50 a day, you would be lucky to get one click a day if any.
  • The Competition: Most of them are rated as medium to high competition. This means you will be competing against lots of other 3PL owners.

Based on this data. If someone follows this advice and adds a bunch of keyword phrases to their account, the keywords phrases will likely so no search volume. Yes, it is true that you can get organic search traffic when SEO tools show no volume. But, typically, when Google Ads shows no volume, the keyword will be tagged with the following message.

Not eligible
Low search volume

That means your ads won’t show this keyword. If you have a bunch of these in a campaign, it could also hurt the overall campaign.

Furthermore, the 3PL niche is very competitive. This can be seen in the level of the bid that is needed to get to the top of the page. I typically recommend that a 3PL start with a budget of at least $1,500 to get any kind of traction. That is a bare minimum, but if you’re bidding on keywords that cost $30-80 a click, you better have a bigger daily budget.

Beware of Over-Simplified Marketing Advice

In the end, people that follow this advice will most likely end up frustrated because their paid search campaigns are not working. Then give up on Paid Search, because their expectations were not based on reality and what really works. 

So beware of people that are making simple statements and offering marketing advice with nothing to back it up. Ask them for some data or analytics reports that support their claims.

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