Some content hits the trifecta: traffic potential, middle funnel and link driver.

In some markets, that opportunity comes in the form of “cost” keywords. In today’s Content & Links, Ross shares the value of creating content around “cost” queries and how to map that value in a way that speaks to the C-Suite.

Video Transcription

Today, we’re talking about the hidden value of cost keywords, or rather, cost topics.

Something that I recently picked up on is the value of passive link intent and finding concepts that will naturally attract links over time without having to do manual link building to them. And one of those query sets is cost queries.

Very often a common theme of these types of topics is people will copy them from other areas. So if it’s the cost to remodel your kitchen, someone will find that number and then reference it on their website. It naturally becomes something they link to.

In general it’s a positive thing that if you can rank for it, it will get your domain links. But the second benefit of “cost” keywords is almost always these are middle- to bottom-funnel keyword. It’s a perfect intersection that is actually very rare when something that is bottom funnel also has high link intent.

This means there is some unique benefit to this topic cluster that I think some people don’t consider and could apply PPC to generate even more return.

What I mean by this is that in general most PPC teams would bid on something like “the cost to remodel your kitchen,” if you can monetize that, without considering the value that the links that effort will generate.

What you can do is educate your PPC team on these topics to actually value search as well. If you put some monetization analysis behind this, you can create a new calculation of what ranking and doing PPC for that topic set might be.

Looking At Passive Links to Inform Value

To give you an example of this, NerdWallet is ranking for “life insurance costs” with their life insurance rates page.


If you look at referring domains, you can see it’s not just a big spike. It is acquiring links over time. And because of that, it is a naturally occurring link source for them. If you look at that view and you track the link numbers from say August to October, it’s acquiring around 10 links per month on average.

Communicating Link Value

What you would want to do is understand what are 10 links per month worth to NerdWallet?

One of ways we explain ROI of link building is we’ll take the number of links that domain has and divide it by the traffic value of that domain.

Traffic Value / Total Links
= Link Value

We call this “how valuable are links in your market?” What that will give you is a monthly value per link for that domain.

For NerdWallet in particular, the number is pretty large. It’s a very lucrative space and their value per link is pretty big because of that. So links have real value to them that they would want to apply to their PPC team to give extra value to that effort, should they be able to generate links through PPC.

The other thing you would want to add on top of that is the lifetime value of those links, which looks like the below:

(Traffic Value / Total Links)
* 24 = Lifetime Link Value

If we take the value for NerdWallet and then we multiply it by 24 months, we now get a lifetime link value of those links that NerdWallet would generate by ranking in that area, or also bidding on those keywords.

($55.9M / 68.7K)
= $813 Value Per Link

And NerdWallet is already ranking pretty well, but this is actually most instructive for their competitor, who is not ranking as well as NerdWallet but wants to be. They might be able to use this analysis to understand on average 10 links are occurring via this process.

($55.9M / 68.7K)
* 10 = $8,130 Link Value Per Month

How To Use PPC To Support “Cost” Queries

Where this gets interesting, and you can apply it to your PPC team, is now you have this lifetime link value. You take that lifetime link value and say $8,000 is the link value that will be generated per month for a competitor that is trying to rank for this.

$8,000 is the value of what that topic would be if you bid on that per month and it could get the maximum amount of traffic that’s possible. What you would want to do is then go to the PPC team and see what they are spending to big on this term.

If they’re spending $200,000 a month on this topic set because it is so lucrative, maybe previously they were slightly negative in terms of their ROI. We see in this space the cost per click, according to Ahrefs, is $25 per click. That’s very expensive.


If we see that on average there are around 11,000 visits and it’s $20, they’re only making $24 per click, you can see the math is maybe negative ROI very slightly.

If you’re a negative ROI from a PPC standpoint, but then you add the SEO value, suddenly this can swing pretty wildly.

On the flip side, maybe you’re already profitable on PPC. With links in mind, maybe you want to really ramp up such that you now can get extra validation for bidding more per click in order to get more links and traffic from the effort, because you see the ROI equation is very clearly in your favor when considering SEO benefit of those rankings at the same time.

Looking Beyond “Cost”

In summation, there’s lots of different ways to do this calculation, but the best way to think about it is not just with “cost” queries. The “average life insurance rate” is another version of that same query.

There are certain topics that are middle funnel where people are pulling that value, often math or money related queries. That is something you can clearly monetize because they’re normally close to actually buying life insurance, or replace “life insurance” with your business use case of relevancy.

You can now put new understanding around PPC—especially early in a campaign for a business where you wouldn’t want to run at a negative ROI forever. If you’re a competitor to NerdWallet that’s bottom of page two and you know you can at least monetize to some point and those links will help you get up to page one and at least see some momentum to rank where you will have to stop running PPC at a loss, that will validate moving faster for a new startup.

It would also validate accelerating rankings, if you’re not there already. In a worst case, you’re at least accelerating rankings in a not massively negative ROI way by considering the PPC + passive link intent variables that are possible when combining these efforts.

This is just one way you can do this, but there’s a lot of creative ways to apply this application, if you can educate your PPC team, which will hopefully get excited about new ways to generate positive ROI for what they do and in turn get your own executive team excited about new ways you can acquire links and drive your SEO campaign up with this hidden cost of topics and PPC that exists.

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