Does Google manipulate CPC (cost-per-click) in Google AdWords?

I’m currently running an AdWords campaign for my new project wheniskeynote.com. Since that web site is strictly non-commercial and won’t ever generate any revenues I have to bear the costs for the ad myself. It’s more like a test to learn how Google AdWords works and how it could be useful to me in future projects.

The CPC (cost-per-click) for the keywords I use (permutations of something like “next apple keynote”) is around 50 cents, which is pretty high considering that my ad is the only ad ever showing up in searches (I’m not using the content network btw.) using these keywords. Google’s answer to this particular situation is rather cryptic and not really comprehensible for an AdWords client. Fortunately, the CPC for my campaign is still far off from keywords like “auto insurance price quotes”, “consolidate graduate student loans” which sell for a whopping $50 per click on average!

Interestingly, one of my keyword combinations which was already running successfully for a few days suddenly showed a 20% CPC increase. My ad wasn’t even shown in searches anymore for that combination because the CPC now was higher than my maximum default bid. The reason why I suspect a CPC manipulation is that there’s no other bidder for this combination. If I increase the CPC to the requested bid level, my ad is showing up again but still the only one showing up. Needless to say that I won’t be bullied into bidding for artificially increased CPC. Someone at Google should redesign this revenue-generating algorithm in a way that isn’t THAT obvious :-)

4 thoughts on “Does Google manipulate CPC (cost-per-click) in Google AdWords?

  1. I have noticed that google is also manipulating adsense cost per click. i know 2 similiar sites in two different adsense accounts. Other site is getting over 200 percent more cpc than the other one which has higer amount of visitors in exactly same market and search phrases. its so sad, google is paying less for those sites which are getting more visitors, and taking more fees to google. so promised 68 perced for the publisher is not true.

  2. As a home Inspector, marketing my home inspection website, I am amazed that the key word phrase “home Inspector” and all other relevant variations are rated “poor; 3 out of ten relevance” when that is all I do, and the phrases are integral throughout my site and company name. The reason for the low score of such a clearly thematic & essential phrase appears to be to manipulate the CPC to a higher bracket. I quadrupled my CPC from $3 to $12 per click for 1 year with ZERO increase in business. 6 months ago I slashed it back to $5 per click; app. 4 in placement with no adverse business effect except reducing my ad cost from $450 to $150 per month. DON’T BE BULLIED!! I feel congress should investigate Google for consumer fraud, as we (advertisers) are clearly competing against Google and not fellow industry professionals OR market share.

  3. It has to do with your quality score. Google jacks up bid prices until they have a “quality score” on you. This score affects your CPC.

  4. Here’s a quick update: I lowered my CPC bid from $0.50 to $0.15 and obviously most keyword combinations slid below the first page bid. After a few more days they were marked “eligible” and the ads showing up for the much lower CPC bid. Feels like I’m competing against myself in my own market.

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