Image of a man fly fishing in a German forest lake.

PPC is Like Fishing

By Joe Sayles, Jr.

Estimated Read Time: 5-7 minutes


One recent morning while I was waiting for my oatmeal to heat up in the microwave, I had an epiphany, a flash thought – “PPC is like Fishing!”

This thought came to me on the heels of another thought that led me to write an article about 5 Reasons Why Digital Marketing is Like a Bicycle.

You see for the past few years, I have spent time after time trying to explain all that I do as an online marketer. You’ve probably been there too. So when I have a great thought, one that really makes it easy to understand, I write it down to share with others.

During this morning daydream, I came up with a doozy that I could share!

Back to my daydream, while standing near the microwave my thoughts had drifted into the best ways to describe my search engine marketing work to one of my clients. I thought if I can describe Search Engine Marketing (aka paid search, SEM or PPC) to my parents and in-laws in a manner they understand, then I have a great description. Since they are all from a different generation, one that exists in the real world, I would need an analogy that they could easily understand.

Because my work has become work that exists while staring at a video monitor, typing away on a keyboard, and sitting with headphones on my head, it can be difficult for my parents, in-laws, their generation and even many in my generation to see and comprehend. But I thought, I can quickly make them understand what I do with a good correlation that they can understand.

When the microwave bell dinged and I came out of my minute long daydream, I could clearly see a direct correlation between my PPC activities and the activities of a fisherman.  This correlation was simple; I realized that as an SEM, I am essentially a digital fisherman!

I quickly took my bowl of oatmeal to my computer desk and began typing.  As I wrote down my thoughts, it became clearer to me how I wanted to explain this idea.  While fishing, you would fish for a specific type of fish with the right bait, in the best location of fish, and the best repeating source of fish.  Suddenly, I realized paid marketing was no different.

To make my point, I created this cloze (fill in the blank) paragraph below to see if substituting terms could work in a descriptive manner. In it, I first entered fishing terms and the paragraph looked as follows:

The toughest part of FISHING

is finding out where the FISH are in the LAKE/OCEAN.

Once you decide where in the LAKE/OCEAN to FISH

Your task becomes all about finding

the right BAIT,

the right LINE,

and the right HOOK.

Next, I substituted PPC terms into this “fill in the blank” statement and this is what I came up with.

The toughest part of SEM-PPC

is finding where the LEADS are (on) the INTERNET.

Once you decide where (on) the INTERNET to FIND LEADS

Your task becomes all about finding

the right AD

the right CALL TO ACTION

and the right LANDING PAGE!

The substitution worked well.  My statement “PPC is like fishing” would stand up to the substitution test.

It quickly became apparent, that the strength in being the SEM is knowing which type of fish (LEAD) will be found in which part of the sea (the INTERNET). Deciding on what fish you are targeting like targeting a bottom dweller, top, or mid-water fish is like which audience (who you want to target). Where in the water you can find them is like which platform to find the audience (Search, Display, Native, Social, Programmatic Ads), and it can also be related to where are the target audience is in the buying cycle (awareness, interest, decision, action: ready to purchase, etc).

The strength in being a good fisherman is also about understanding timing just as it is for an SEM. Time of day, is just as important in fishing as in PPC. As with fishing when you might consider whether it is time for a fish to find a meal, in SEM you must identify when your target is most likely to be available to take action.

In PPC as with fishing, your bait is another important factor. You might need worms to land a smaller fish, or a small fish to land a bigger fish. In PPC you might want a display ad in a native network to make a potential lead aware of your product, whereas you might require a text ad in a search campaign to find a potential customer who is ready to buy – deeper in the sales funnel.

With bait, you also must decide whether you want the best, expensive bait or if any basic bait will do. You must decide how much bait to buy and how much bait to use in the water over any given period of time. With bait, when the fish aren’t biting you must also decide when to stop wasting bait and pull your line out of the water.

With PPC, you must also decide if you will target the most competitive and expensive keywords or the less competitive and less expensive long-tail keywords. You must decide how much budget you want to spend, and whether or not to pause your ads for the day if you are not collecting your targeted number of leads.

Like fishing in a lake or the sea, there are top feeding, middle feeding, and bottom feeding fish.  Similarly, in Search Engine Marketing there are leads in different phases of the buying cycle. Image of the Purchase FunnelThere are those who are high in the funnel, those deeper in the funnel, and those ready to buy immediately. As with fishing, in PPC when you are targeting the right audience, and you measure the right key performance indicators (KPIs), your chances of landing the right lead will have the best opportunities for success.

So in a daydream over a bowl of oatmeal, I have found a correlation between fishing and paid advertising. This correlation makes it easier to understand what I do as a search marketer for those who are unfamiliar with the work.

Do you find that you have difficulty explaining what you do? What kinds of correlations have you used to define your work?  Let us know and we will share them.

For your PPC/paid advertising/search engine marketing/SEM needs visit us at

Purchase Funnel Resouce:

5 Reasons Why Digital Marketing is Like a Bicycle

A Better, Simpler Way to Understand Digital Marketing in 2017

By Joe Sayles, Jr.

For a few years of my life, I worked in Real Estate. First as a loan officer, then later as a title insurance representative. During these times, I discovered that many people did not understand all the elements of a real estate transaction. I looked for and never found a good infographic image to describe the process.  So I would explain to my clients that real estate transactions function like a bicycle wheel.

The center of the bicycle wheel was a hub known as the escrow agency. The escrow agency was the center point for all the areas of real estate activity. The various other areas were the spokes leading into the escrow hub. They included buyer’s agent contracts, seller’s agent’s paperwork, home inspection, title insurance, appraisal, etc. This would help my clients to better envision the whole real estate transaction process.

So why is this digital marketing article talking about real estate?  Here is why…

In the online world, very few people have experience in the digital marketing field. Fewer have experience dealing in the various digital channels. In my years of work in online marketing, I have needed a better, simpler way to explain all the online marketing channels and how they work together to my family, friends, employers and clients.

Now, having spent more than a decade in digital marketing, I have created an infographic that does just that. I realized that similar to my bicycle wheel analogy for real estate, a whole bicycle can be used to easily help people visualize the different digital marketing processes and describe the function and placement of all digital marketing elements and channels.  Let’s take a look.

PNG Image of a Bicycle with Digital Marketing terms describing the parts of the bicycle.

In digital marketing, once you decide to create a digital presence, you are then faced with how to be seen online. Either you can do the work yourself, or you can partner with an agency who will help you in the next step. In either case, you must make a decision on how best to begin.

There are three important pieces that work together to form the foundation in the digital marketing bicycle analogy. On the bicycle, you start with:

  1. The Seat: You and/or Your digital marketing agency power and drive the digital marketing experience.
  2. The Handle Bars: are the digital marketing strategy that will guide you to your digital goals.
  3. The Bicycle Frame: is your website or the internet presence tools you use to be visible online.
    1. In other words, this is about your website, whether it is a WordPress Website or blog, a Shopify ecommerce store, a Facebook Fanpage, or a Youtube channel. You will need at least one vehicle to launch your online presence.
    2. The frame also includes the ability of these tools to convert your website visitors into paying customers or leads. You need to have conversion rate optimization (CRO) and landing page optimization (LPO) strategies in place for all of your customer traffic whether they come from Organic Advertising or Paid Ads. Without a strong converting site, what good is it to send traffic to the site?
  4. The Rear Wheel is the paid advertising portion of your digital marketing efforts.
    1. The funding part of paid advertising is the power that propels it, the chain, pedals, and gears. The more money put into advertising is like pedaling the bicycle faster and faster. When the funds run out, it is like running out of energy.
    2. The rear wheel itself is the various paid advertising spokes: display ads, search ads, social media ads, native ads, programmatic ads etc. These are the Google Adwords, Bing Ad Center, Yahoo Ads, Outbrain, Taboola, etc. ads.
  5. The Front Wheel is your organic advertising.
    1. This is the free spinning wheel of your bicycle, therefore the front wheel represents the free portion of your advertising. Free advertising needs a nudge to get moving. This can be as simple as managing social media, writing content, or as complex creating citations and building links.
    2. The spokes of the organic wheel are On-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Off-page SEO, Social Media Optimization (SMO), Social Proof and Online Reputation Management (ORM), Public Relations, (PR), email marketing, and rich media marketing which includes video, podcasts, and image marketing.

You and your digital marketing agency need to create a solid digital marketing strategy to guide your efforts, like a bicycle needs a good cyclist to make it go, . With a good website, you have a strong foundation to manage various digital marketing channels. Also with a big budget, you can get things moving fast, like a strong cyclist can pedal fast to get out in front of the pack.

Just remember that your traffic needs to be converting into sales and your end goals just as a Tour Du France cyclist needs to snack for energy along the race.  If you create a good enough strategy, you might be able to find a hill to coast down once in a while.  You must decide whether or not you are going to pedal, if you are going to ride to a hill and coast, or if you will find a route where you do both as needed. Designing a great strategy is up to you and your agency team.


If you would like a free consultation for your digital marketing needs, visit

About the author:

Joe Sayles, Jr. is the CEO and CMO of ENVY Digital Solutions, LLC an agile, boutique digital marketing agency in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Also a former school teacher, Joe has been blogging since 2000, and focused on digital marketing since 2007.  While earning millions for his corporate employers, Joe has done everything from email marketing to SEO, Paid Advertising, building websites, and much more. Today, he helps local business owners to realize their dreams online. Learn more about Joe and his services at

What Local SEO Domination Looks Like in 54 Seconds



What Local SEO Domination Looks Like in 54 Seconds

This is a video clip produced by Joe Sayles, Jr. of ENVY Digital Solutions.

The first time your business website gets on the first page of Google or Bing is exciting.  But what if you could dominate the first page… the second page… or even more.  In this video, we share one of our clients’ search results for one of their targeted keywords.  This video shows LOCAL SEO DOMINATION, the result of less than 9 months of marketing with us.

What if you could dominate the first page… the second page… or even more of Google Pages.

This video shows LOCAL SEO DOMINATION… the result of less than 9 months of marketing with us.


After 12 months, this client dominated 74% of the first 50 search results for his targeted keywords on Google and Bing.  We might be able to do the same for you. If you are interested in learning more about how you can dominate Google and Bing check out our local SEO domination service at:



“If You Build It… an Introduction to Digital Marketing Strategy”

image of field of dreamsBy Joe Sayles, Jr. – Approximate Reading Time 7-12 min.


“If you build it, they will come”… at least that is what you might expect.  Then the harsh reality sets in and you realize, you have built a great website, but no one even knows that it exists. So what do you do next?

This great line from the 1989 Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams comes to mind regularly when I think about all of the small, local business owners I speak with today. It also takes me back to my early days online and feeling the same way.

Local business owners are usually aware that there is money to be made using the internet. They build or have websites built for them, but they quickly learn without the marketing knowledge or a strategic plan, their online business is like a boat in the water without sails, paddles, or an engine.

For most of these business owners, there are usually a few reasons for their business being stagnant online:

  • They have no clue about how the digital world works or;
  • They have no time to learn digital marketing;
  • They have not created a budget for marketing online;
  • They have a web presence of some sort, but they do not have a strategy for using the internet.

Small business owners know business… their business, their niche.  They know production and how to make stuff work, or how to repair things. These business owners know salesmanship and how to stick to their budgets. Some even know a thing or two about marketing. But in today’s digital marketing world, it is EXTREMELY difficult to be good at everything mentioned above, and also remain current with today’s ever changing internet marketing strategies.

Heck, it is even difficult for today’s digital marketers. Digital marketing used to be a job for just one person, but now it has morphed into many different channels that are related, and yet so different.

For those on the outside (people not actually performing the marketing efforts), digital marketing appears to be one task. However, the closer you look the more you realize that there are many moving parts to this type of marketing. You also realize you need to develop a strategy for managing these parts, because it would require a large team to do it all. This is why digital marketing agencies exist!

Let’s take a look at small business marketing and why it is so important to have a strategy. My hope is this will help you to begin creating a digital marketing strategy by leading you into setting some very basic goals, then making decisions about how best to move forward with a strategy.


Digital Marketing Strategy

When creating a digital marketing strategy, there are a few very specific things that you need to understand:

  • You can either wait for customers to find you (you never know if they will find you);
  • You can go out and find them yourself (this might take lots of effort and time) or;
  • You can pay to have them find you (this has the potential to get expensive).

You need to decide whether you want to let people find your website based on their website searches or by word of mouth. Or if you want/need immediate traffic by a much larger volume of visitors, you might want/need to pay for traffic.  Better yet, you probably want a balance between these ways and you might need to decide how best to balance the way that will work best for your business.

There is no perfect answer, but when conferring with an experienced marketer, there can be calculated “guesstimates” for the amount of traffic from the different sources you need in order to meet your goals. Then, trial and error, testing and optimizing will help you find the best balance of traffic type that is right for you.

When I first began using the internet with business in (2000), I ran blogs. My content targeted “captive” audiences who used the blog to find the information they needed. There was no need to learn marketing because my blogs were, in essence, digital brochures… digital brochures that could easily be updated frequently.  All I did was wait for my customers to visit my website for the information they needed, and I provided frequent updates. This mindset was fine for my purposes in the early 2000’s, but not for 2017. Unfortunately, I find that the digital brochure website mindset is still a prevailing mindset for many business owners who have not realized the value of finding traffic online.

As time moved on (2004-2005), I learned that people were finding my brick and mortar business by searching on the internet.  Although I feel like I came late to this understanding, I realized that I could actually use the internet as a marketing channel to drive traffic to my website and business.  At the time, I felt this was just a bonus channel of leads. (This is the way many local entrepreneurs still think.) Eventually, I came to realize that online marketing could become a main driving force for my marketing efforts.

In my third venture online, I discovered I would need to be found on the internet in order to grow as an online business. I faced the dilemma of “building it and having no traffic.” I invested in paid advertising, first in Google, then, Yahoo, then in MSN ads. Eventually, I used several other sources that I will discuss later in a different article. I had a little money to invest in advertising. I did not know anything about how I should best spend it and was learning by trial and error. I was trying to figure out who had the “real” knowledge to learn from, and who I should trust to learn from.

There were so many “voices” on the internet telling me to do this, and do that! After a couple of experiences working with outsourced marketing, and paid advertising, I decided I needed to learn the best sources of information or I would go broke. After learning who the leaders were online, I trained in the best information. (This is why you should follow my social media channels, because I share information from the very best sources.) From there, I would make a marketing plan for driving traffic to my website.

Many of you have probably found yourselves in the same situation. Perhaps giving up on finding the best ways to learn to do the marketing yourself. Or perhaps you have tried and not been successful with some internet marketing practices. Maybe you are able to read a lot of the information but don’t know where to start because you are stuck in information paralysis. This is not unusual and why one of my goals is to help business owners in this state.

Even today, I must remind myself to focus by building a strategy and working toward a goal. Otherwise, I can feel like I have Attention Deficit Disorder and get lost all over the place. The internet is like a vast ocean. I now realize that no matter what type of business you are marketing, you need to find ways to focus and stand out in the crowded sea of online voices.

So let’s get back to helping you develop a digital marketing strategy based on your goals and the different marketing channels available to you. The first thing to do is to begin thinking about your goals, your needs, and your abilities – both knowledge abilities and what you can afford to do financially. These goals will help you to develop your strategy.

Image of a Google Search Bar

The Different Types of Marketing Channels – Paid

If your goal is to find as many customers as you can immediately, then you need to explore paid advertising. Paid advertising is by far, the fastest way with the best odds of getting new customers to your website.

In the online world, there are many different names for paid advertising, and many more acronyms. Paid online advertising goes by the names “Pay-Per-Click” advertising, “paid acquisition”, “paid advertising” and “search engine marketing” (which in some places also means search engine optimization, but that is a subject for another day). It goes by the acronyms, “PPC”, “CPC” (Cost per Click advertising), and “SEM.”

There are even more specific types of paid advertising that people refer to. “Search” ads, “Display” ads, “CPA” (Cost per Acquisition) ads, “Native” ads, and “Programmatic” ads are all different types of paid advertising. For my purposes I will use the terms PPC, SEM, and Paid Advertising interchangeably.

Paid advertising has actually gained substantial appeal and momentum in recent years. PPC ads enable you to highlight your website in defined search engine locations (for instance, the top of the search page on Google or Bing) or on appropriate sites (for example, a niche related website to your site that presents Google AdSense through banner advertisements). Whenever your ad is clicked, you pay up to the amount of your bid depending on many factors that I will discuss at another time. Paid ads can be found in search engines, and in social media. Again I stress, PPC is the fastest way to get your website visible online.


The Different Types of Marketing Channels – Organic


Aside from the paid advertising methods, there are what is referred to as “natural” or “organic” (un-paid) methods of finding website traffic.  These methods are based on search engine searches, or referrals from social media sources. The original organic way to make your website visible and stand out on the internet was through the process of Search Engine Optimization.

Search engine optimization (or SEO as it is typically called) is the process of enhancing a website’s search engine ranking for different search phrases, usually called “keywords” (or keyword phrases as I like to call them. In my early days and being literal as I can be, I did not realize a keyword could be a phrase.)

In SEO just like in paid advertising, there are different components, but they can all be categorized within one of two main component types, either as on-page or off-page SEO factors. On-page SEO elements include meta data such as meta tags and meta descriptions, title tags like H1 and H2 tags, image alt tags, keyword frequency and internal linking.  These all work to tell the search engines what content and keywords the website considers valuable by being highlighted.

Off-page SEO usually describes web links and referral citations from external websites including top quality internet directories as well as pertinent, trusted internet sites. Sites like Google, Bing, .edu and .gov sites are usually the strongest off-page sites.

Social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are just as strong and also fall into this category that has morphed into a second major avenue of organic traffic that will be discussed in the next section. An important element of off-page SEO is acquiring external links from sources like those mentioned above, that have anchor text which contains your most important keyword phrases.  Linking with other websites within your niche that have content related to your site content are also very valuable for your off-page SEO

Social media optimization (SMO), is the newest of the three main search engine marketing strategies. This strategy uses social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ LinkedIn and Pinterest to name a few, as vehicles with the potential to drive traffic to websites. There are many different types of social media websites, many of which are apps that are designed to be used with mobile devices. Social media site are often less geared toward SMO and building SEO value for your website, but are more geared toward generating social engagement. However, the strength of the social media traffic to these website when combined with links to business websites bring tremendous SEO value as well. Savvy business marketers are always exploring new ways to exploit competitive marketing advantages from social media.

If you would like to create a digital marketing strategy for your business, we have found a cheat sheet that you might find useful from Marketo at The cheat sheet shows the value of How-SMBs-Benefit-from-an-ABM-Strategy-Marketo.pdf.

If you need further guidance in creating your digital marketing strategy, please contact us at

In upcoming posts on our blog, I will discuss the various digital marketing channels among other things, and how we integrate them into strategies for our clients leading them to digital domination that is ENVY’d (yes I misspelled it that way on purpose!).

About the Author:

Joe Sayles, Jr. is the CEO and CMO of ENVY Digital Marketing Solutions LLC a boutique Las Vegas digital marketing agency. ENVY Digital provides Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Website Design, Webmaster Services, Conversion Rate Optimization, Social Proof Marketing, and Video Marketing for small business & websites owners.

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