The cost of doing business with pay-per-click advertising has risen sharply over the past decade. So much so, many small business owners are wondering if the price they’re paying to get their message out is worth the return on their investment.

As Darren Dahl reports for the New York Times, larger companies joining the PPC craze has caused rates to skyrocket and nearly priced out smaller competitors.

AdGooroo, a research firm specializing in the PPC market, reports that more than nine out of ten companies spend less than $10-thousand a month on PPC advertising. At the other end of that spectrum, however, are giants like Amazon and University of Phoenix, who spent $54-million and $37.9-million respectively in the first half of 2012 alone.

The advice many experts offer is to scale back PPC ads and make keywords as specific as possible to your business. General keywords like ‘life insurance’ or ‘car sales’ put you in direct competition with a number of companies, many of whom have much deeper pockets.

PPC also shouldn’t be your only advertising platform. Branching out into social media and search is crucial to drive as much traffic to your site as possible.

It’s worth looking into SEO services to improve your organic search rankings. There’s even services online that pledge to manage your social media marketing accounts, as well. When you own a small business, time and money come at a premium and online advertising is becoming costly for both.

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