The most common questions we hear from advertisers is, “How many clicks can I get for my budget?” and the related question, “How many leads should I expect for my budget?”

And these are good questions. With most products you buy, you expect to know the exact quantity you’re getting. But with advertising, these are more complicated questions to answer. A $100 budget could get you 300 clicks, or it could get you just one.

In this article, we’ll go over why the cost of a click can vary so dramatically, why (sometimes) the more expensive clicks are better, as well as a few tips and industry benchmarks.

First things first: What is CPC?

Cost Per Click (CPC) is a measurement of how much it costs advertisers each time someone clicks on their ad. It’s an invaluable metric when it comes to forecasting your results: Divide your total budget by your average CPC, and you’ll be left with an estimate of how many clicks you can expect.

While CPC is a simple enough concept, the rules behind how it’s calculated are not.

Think of online advertising as a live auction.

It’s the profit-driven network’s (perhaps Google or Facebook) role to sell each auction item—limited real estate for an advertisement—to the highest bidder.

The buyers each place a ‘bid’ for how much they’re willing to pay for that online real estate. If you’re in an industry with a lot of competition, there will be several bidders that ultimately drive up the price. If your market share is relatively uncontested, there will be little competition and you can win the auction with a low bid.

The highest bidder will then nab the most prominent real estate (say, the first position on Google), while the next highest bidder will get the second position, and so on and so on.

This is what the advertising world refers to as the Google Ads Auction.

And it works even if you don’t manually set a bid, as the networks will automatically bid on your behalf with an algorithm designed to maximize your clicks.

What makes a CPC more or less expensive?

There are many factors that make an auction competitive, including:

  • Location: Generally speaking, businesses in urban areas will face higher CPCs as there are bound to be more lawyers/realtors/home service pro/restaurants/everything in New York, New York than there are in Plano, Texas. We used nationwide averages for all of the benchmarks in this post, but assume they’ll be more expensive if you’re in a densely populated area with more advertisers and less expensive if you business is someplace more suburban or rural.
  • Scarcity: Given the millions of dollars a single settlement can yield, law firms all over the country are looking for more medical malpractice cases. Yet, there’s a relatively small number of clients. As a result, these law firms are likely willing to pay a steep premium to get in front of these cases when they do come through Google. (And in fact, securing a spot on the top of the first page for ‘medical malpractice’ searches in Google will set you back a staggering $250.) mesothelioma lawyer  is consistently one of the most expensive keywords in ppc. The table below shows the top 50 most expensive law related Adword costs.
RANK KEYWORD GEO AREA  CPC
1 best mesothelioma lawyer No Geo $935.71
2 dallas truck accident lawyer Texas $425.70
3 truck accident lawyer houston Texas $411.04
4 louisville car accident lawyer Kentucky $393.79
5 houston 18 wheeler accident lawyer Texas $388.84
6 are personal injury settlements taxable No Geo $377.70
7 baltimore auto accident lawyer Maryland $361.34
8 accident lawyer sacramento California $358.11
9 car accident lawyer phoenix Arizona $358.03
10 car accident lawyers los angeles California $350.42
11 phoenix accident lawyer Arizona $348.78
12 los angeles car accident attorney California $332.58
13 mesothelioma compensation No Geo $326.85
14 car accident lawyer in atlanta Georgia $326.76
15 houston truck accident attorney Texas $319.36
16 injury lawyer dallas Texas $313.42
17 personal injury attorneys phoenix Arizona $306.63
18 motorcycle accident attorney No Geo $305.58
19 attorney pensacola fl Florida $297.36
20 new york accident lawyer New York $293.75
21 trash truck accident No Geo $291.73
22 phoenix truck accident lawyer Arizona $290.02
23 los angeles accident attorneys California $284.69
24 lawyers in mesa az Arizona $279.82
25 auto accident attorney fees No Geo $276.61
26 mesothelioma lawsuit settlements No Geo $276.44
27 accident lawyers in phoenix Arizona $271.64
28 las vegas injury lawyers Nevada $269.37
29 accident injury lawyer No Geo $269.31
30 motorcycle accident lawyer los angeles California $265.80
31 slip and fall lawyer philadelphia Pennsylvania $262.80
32 las vegas accident attorney Nevada $262.76
33 car accident lawyer pittsburgh Pennsylvania $262.14
34 trucking accident lawyer No Geo $262.11
35 auto accident attorney sacramento California $259.72
36 18 wheeler accident lawyer No Geo $259.58
37 workers comp lawyer philadelphia Pennsylvania $257.97
38 medical malpractice lawyers philadelphia Pennsylvania $255.61
39 sacramento lawyer California $255.20
40 medical malpractice lawyers in pa Pennsylvania $253.38
41 houston accident lawyer Texas $244.07
42 car accident lawyer in houston Texas $243.89
43 charlotte auto accident attorney North Carolina $242.11
44 personal injury attorney phoenix Arizona $240.37
45 car accident lawyer orange county California $239.97
46 personal injury attorney santa ana California $239.70
47 car accident attorney dallas Texas $239.29
48 18 wheeler accident attorney No Geo $239.13
49 personal injury lawyer new orleans Louisiana $236.82
50 denver accident lawyer Colorado $236.20

 

  • Click-through rate: In many Google and Facebook ad programs the companies make money every time someone clicks on an ad, and they’re system prefers  ads that see a higher click-through rate (CTR). If you have an engaging and highly relevant ad with a high CTR, you’ll be rewarded with a lower CPC as the networks see more value in selling a spot for $2 to a popular ad than $4 to an ad that’s unlikely to get clicks.
  • Network choice: Last but not least, some networks are just generally cheaper than others. Google Search has a reputation for being expensive Bing Ads or display or social channels, like Google Display or Facebook. This is all explained by the same auction metaphor: If Google is more expensive than Facebook, it means more advertisers in your industry are flocking to Google because it (presumably) converts better.

Okay, okay, so what sort of CPC can I expect for my industry?

To see what the average Cost Per Click looks like for your industry, select the industry below that best matches your business type:

Food and beverage:

  • Coffee Shops
  • Food Trucks
  • Restaurants

Retail and consumer goods:

  • Auto Dealerships
  • Book Stores
  • Convenience Stores
  • Electronic Stores
  • Grocery Stores
  • Jewelry Stores
  • Retail (General)
Services:

  • Hotels
  • Accountants
  • Auto Insurance
  • Barbershops / Hair Salons
  • Childcare / Daycare
  • Clinicians / Healthcare
  • Dentists / Orthodontists
  • Education
  • Fitness Centers / Gyms
  • Insurance
  • Interior Designer
  • Lawn Care / Landscaping
  • Legal / Law Firms
  • Photography
  • Plumbing
  • Real Estate
  • Salons

Methodology

To compute these benchmarks, we took the most popular keywords for 29 major industries and found a nationwide (U.S.) average for what businesses paid in 2018. These metrics are specific to Google search campaigns, but other networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) generally follow a similar trend.

 

The Food & Beverage Industry

What’s a good CPC for bars?

The average Google CPC for bars and nightclubs in the United States is $2.07. The competition, however, may come less from other bars and more from furniture stores selling home bars. If you’re able to filter out this competition with negative keywords like furniture, home, and buy, you may be able to get a much better CPC.

What’s a good CPC for coffee shops?

The average CPC for coffee shops is $1.59, which is 32% below the median CPC across all industries.

What’s a good CPC for food trucks?

Food trucks and pop-up restaurants see an average CPC of $0.64, which is cheaper than all but one of the other industries on this list (book stores).

What’s a good CPC for restaurants?

Anything below the average CPC of $2.12 is considered good for restaurants in the United States. However, high-end restaurants with greater profit margins typically see more competition in the advertising world, and thus higher costs for specific search phrases (luxury restaurants, best restaurants).

 

The Retail & Consumer Goods Industry 

What’s a good CPC for auto dealerships?

Anything below the average CPC of $1.72 is considered great for the typical auto dealer. If you’re in a densely competitive area, such as an auto mall, this figure may be significantly higher due to multiple dealers targeting the same lots.

What’s a good CPC for jewelry stores?

Jewelry stores see an average CPC of $1.19 on Google Ads, making it a favorite channel for jewelers nationwide. 

 

The Consumer & Professional Services Industry

What’s a good CPC for law firms?

The legal industry sees some of the greatest discrepancies in keyword costs. While the average click will set you back $5.27, searches for cases that can potentially yield seven-figure settlements will have a lot more bidders to drive up the price. Securing the coveted top spot for searches like ‘auto accident lawyers’ or ‘medical malpractice attorneys’ will typically cost over $200 in most competitive markets.

What’s a good CPC for accommodations and hotels?

Hotels, resorts, and other accommodations see an average CPC of $1.44 for a position somewhere on the first page of a search engine result. If you’re looking to nab that coveted top spot, however, you’re looking at something closer to $2.96. 

What’s a good CPC for accountants, tax professionals, financial advisors, and wealth managers?

The financial services industry sees an average CPC on Google Ads of $5.48. Competition follows the dollars, however, and high-margin services like wealth management see a CPC closer to $31.31. 

What’s a good CPC for auto insurance agents?

In the auto insurance industry, anything below $5.19 is considered a good CPC. However, insurance is among the most competitive industries on Google Ads and costs can average as much as $76.54 for the first position on Google. (Don’t worry though – our customers have seen great results targeting much more affordable lower positions.) 

What’s a good CPC for barbershops and hair salons?

Hair salons clock in at an average U.S. CPC of $0.49, offering some of the cheapest clicks on this list. 

What’s a good CPC for clinicians and healthcare professionals?

The healthcare industry averages a $2.32 CPC, although cosmetic services (like botox and chemical peels) tend to see greater competition and higher click costs. 

What’s a good CPC for dentists and orthodontists?

Dentists see one of the higher average CPCs on this list, coming in at $5.34. Similar to what we saw in healthcare, cosmetic services (like teeth whitening) tend to be more expensive, while generic searches for ‘dentists’ average out to $2.78. 

What’s a good CPC for schools and education?

Schools and educational services face an average CPC of $3.25. This number is heavily inflated by the highly competitive for-profit and online education industry, which sees keyword costs climb as high as $34.36 for a prominent position. Traditional schools and universities will see CPCs closer to $1.50-$2.50. 

What’s a good CPC for landscapers and lawn care specialists?

Lawn care professionals maintain an average CPC of $4.17 in the United States. Specialized services like patio construction and water features tend to be on the higher end, while basic lawn mowing and fertilization services see CPCs averaging closer to $2.

What’s a good CPC for photographers?

In the photography industry, anything below $2.73 is considered a good CPC on Google Ads (Search). Wedding photographers can expect to pay slightly more, due to heightened competition, especially in peak wedding season. 

What’s a good CPC for real estate agents?

The real estate industry averages a $2.09 CPC in the United States, which is 10% cheaper than the average CPC across all industries. 

Stretch your budget further

Not happy with your CPC? Feel like you’re not getting enough sales from your clicks? You’re not alone.

Search engine marketing takes minutes to set up and a lifetime to master. Getting to a profitable CPC can take months of testing. Fortunately, our team has the experience to optimize paid ad campaigns to connect companies with their most probable customers, to focus clicks on those most likely to convert into paying customers. We’re happy to review your existing campaign, or plan and implement an entirely new ad campaign for your company.