“The most expensive keyword on Google”

In 2003 I began a journey that would lead me from SEM (paid advertising), SEO (Organic Search), and eventually Digital Reputation Management. It started when I found out about the emergence of a really viable VOIP solution for home phones (Vonage). When I decided to try to sell that online I discovered Yahoo’s Overture and Google’s Adwords – platforms that enabled me to do effective advertising to get people to sign up and buy. I was able to sell VOIP as an affiliate through the Israeli Vonage reseller Ameriphone, as well as California-based Packet8.

Soon after I decided that if I could attract customers to VOIP offers, I should try other products and services. I had always loved the idea of long distance communication and cell phones were becoming ubiquitous, so I jumped into affiliate sales of cell phones with plans by T-mobile, Verizon, Cingular (AT&T), Nextel, and Sprint. I continued to use paid advertising, landing pages that converted really well, and a 24/6 (Vonage) phone line that prospects could call to place orders and ask questions.

At some point in mid-2004 I did a Google search to find out the most expensive keyword on the internet and found out it was Mesothelioma – a terrible life-threatening cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. At that time I believe that the cost of a click was $60+ each! This discovery introduced me to the value of generating leads for lucrative services – in this case law firms. Together with a friend I decided to create a tool that would generate misspellings of that keyword and others because at that point online advertising platforms did not automatically place ads if the keyword was misspelled. The tool was called keywordsfinder and we managed to sell 30-40 copies as about $50 each, if I recall correctly.

I used that tool to test my theory and found I could get tens of clicks/day at a fraction of the $60 price tag. So I set out to find lawyers who needed those clicks. I was fortunate enough to find one and the work that we were able to do with his firm over the following 5-6 years was instrumental in getting us from being an e-commerce operation, to one focused on consulting to other companies.

All this came to mind today when a colleague shared with me Kantar’s recent study of the most expensive keywords on Google.

Once more Kantar Media has returned to this subject, this time analyzing the most expensive keywords on Google over the last four years, from August 2014 through August 2018. During this time we found mesothelioma terms accounted for 67 of the 100 most expensive keywords on U.S. Google, including all of the Top 10:

It was interesting to me that after so many years, Mesothelioma is still the most expensive keyword you can buy on Google!