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How Does Google Make Money? The Most Expensive Keywords in AdWords

Most Expensive KeywordsHow does Google make its money? On the heels of Google's blow-out Q2 2011 earnings announcement last week, we wanted to find out the most expensive keywords - what keywords demand the highest costs per click and are most competitive in terms of high search volume

Since the vast majority of Google's profits come from AdWords advertising, these high CPC keyword categories are responsible for a large part of Google's profits. The results of our research are illustrated in an infographic of the most expensive keywords. (Click the image to enlarge the google adwords keywords infographic.)

Table of Contents:

The 20 most expensive keywords categories with the highest search volume (i.e. the most used keywords) and highest costs per click, thereby netting Google the most money, are:

  1. Insurance (example keywords in this category include "buy car insurance online" and "auto insurance price quotes")
  2. Loans (example keywords include "consolidate graduate student loans" and "cheapest homeowner loans")
  3. Mortgage (example keywords include “refinanced second mortgages” and “remortgage with bad credit”)
  4. Attorney (example keywords include “personal injury attorney” and “dui defense attorney”)
  5. Credit (example keywords include “home equity line of credit” and “bad credit home buyer”)
  6. Lawyer ("personal injury lawyer, " "criminal defense lawyer)
  7. Donate ("car donation centers, " "donating a used car")
  8. Degree ("criminal justice degrees online, " "psychology bachelors degree online")
  9. Hosting ("hosting ms exchange, " "managed web hosting solution")
  10. Claim ("personal injury claim, " "accident claims no win no fee")
  11. Conference Call ("best conference call service, " "conference calls toll free")
  12. Trading ("cheap online trading, " "stock trades online")
  13. Software ("crm software programs, " "help desk software cheap")
  14. Recovery ("raid server data recovery, " "hard drive recovery laptop")
  15. Transfer ("zero apr balance transfer, " "credit card balance transfer zero interest")
  16. Gas/Electricity ("business electricity price comparison, " "switch gas and electricity suppliers")
  17. Classes ("criminal justice online classes, " "online classes business administration")
  18. Rehab ("alcohol rehab centers, " "crack rehab centers")
  19. Treatment ("mesothelioma treatment options, " "drug treatment centers")
  20. Cord Blood ("cordblood bank, " "store umbilical cord blood")

We found that that 97% of Google's revenue comes from advertising on Google sites. In the last four quarters alone (Q3 2010-Q2 2011), Google brought in $32.2 billion in total advertising revenue.

Google CPC: Google's Highest Cost Per Click Keywords

Google AdWords is a dynamic, auction-based marketplace where advertisers bid on keywords to compete for top ad placement. The minimum bid per keyword is 5 cents, but this research shows that in highly competitive categories, Google can make up to $50 per click from PPC keyword bids. Despite a diversified product portfolio, advertising on Google sites accounts for the vast majority of its billions in annual revenue.

The google adword keyword categories with the highest volumes and costs represent businesses with very high lifetime customer value – in other words, these industries can afford to pay a lot to acquire a new customer. These most expensive keywords comprise businesses such as lawsuits, mortgage applications, and server hosting. Some high-volume keyword categories have lower CPCs because advertisers have slimmer margins to expend on PPC advertising.

The Most Expensive Keywords: Survey Methodology

We compiled data from our own trillion-keyword database and the Google Keyword Tool to determine the top 10, 000 most expensive English-language keywords over a 90-day period. This keyword list was then organized into categories by theme, such as "Insurance." The largest keyword categories were determined by weighting the number of keywords within each category, as well as the estimated monthly search volume and average cost per click for each keyword.

Tips for Bidding in a Super-Competitive, Expensive Google Adword Key word Niche

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