The most valuable words on Google? Hint, they might remind you of ‘ambulance chaser’

Even if you’re not familiar with search engines, you’re probably aware that the companies sell search results by the word. You buy a word or phrase and pay Google or another company a set amount of money every time someone searches for that word or phrase and clicks on your link.

What price for a word or three? Chris Lake, a writer for Search Engine Watch, reviewed statistics based on 80 million words for sale by Google AdWords in its advertising machine, which produces $70 billion annually for the company. Say you buy the words “Parker horse doctor.” Maybe cost you a few bucks a click, or maybe $10. It will cost you more to own “Chicago securities attorney.”

Of all the words purchased in the U.S. and Great Britain, which ones are most expensive?

Every time someone searches for “best mesothelioma lawyer” and clicks on one of the ads that pop up, the firm that bought the term has to pay Google $935.71. You read that right. Just a click. Doesn’t matter if the clicker has the asbestos-related lung cancer, or ever will become part of a settlement that brings in an average $1 million.

I looked up mesothelioma on Google and saw ads on the first four results. The first ad was for Simmons Hanly Conroy, a national law firm. I know what you’re thinking. I just cost those guys $935.71. But I didn’t. It cost them less than $214 (Number 100) because mesothelioma by itself didn’t make the top 100 most expensive words or phrases Google sells in the U.S. The firm says it has recovered more than $4 billion in damages and fines, so I guess they can afford my insincere click. Hope they don’t sue me.

Lake’s research turns up a top 100 most expensive list dominated by accident, personal injury and medical malpractice legal terms, with a handful of addiction recovery terms sprinkled in. Legal terms accounted for 78 percent of the top 100, and nine of the top 10. Want to buy “Dallas truck accident lawyer?” It will set you back $425.70 a click, or $411 for “truck accident lawyer Houston.” Suing trucking companies is apparently a big business in Texas.

I didn’t know there was that much rain or flooding in San Diego, but “San Diego water damage” costs $381 per click. “Personal injury attorneys Phoenix,” at more than $300, shows how expensive it can be to zero in on a region. One I thought was rather artful was “slip and fall lawyer Philadelphia.” Watch out for banana peels in Philly.

Other expensive clicks were B2B services, such as business phone; financial and insurance services and technology companies.

Lake also studied the British Isles. In the United Kingdom, where gambling is legal, gambling terms account for 77 percent of the top 100 terms, with the most expensive cost per click coming in at around $220, Lake noted.

So what is a word worth? It depends on the word. When I was an investigative newspaper reporter and columnist, we had a saying when we wanted to get to the heart of the story: “Follow the money.” When it comes to Google AdSense, to find out what’s driving things, just follow the money.




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