SEMrush Study: Most Expensive States to Advertise In (+ Breakdown by 17 Industries)

Local PPC is here to stay, but many advertisers still believe it is not important for them. It is widely thought that only location-bound businesses, like brick-and-mortar stores or food deliveries, should focus on local PPC. However, even for businesses operating completely online, tailoring their campaigns to a specific location can help optimize their advertising spends, as is proven by our new study.

To find out if and how advertising costs differ in the United States, SEMrush analyzed over 86,000 keywords from 17 industries, including both offline and online businesses — from automobile dealerships to cryptocurrencies.

The first version of this study was published in February 2018. After we got a lot of positive feedback and requests to share more details, we decided to turn this data into an interactive tool. This is how CPC Map appeared. Our newest SEMrush tool is a map displaying average cost per click in a particular region for a particular vertical. What you will read now in this article is only a small part of the data the new tool provides:

  • 10 more countries, including the UK, India, Australia, and Brazil.
  • State-wide overview. You can compare costs across 17 verticals in a chosen state at a glance.
  • CPC graph displaying how the cost was changing during last 4 months in a particular niche and state.

Be sure to check it out for tons of actionable insights for your PPC strategy!

Below you can discover which states are the most and least expensive for advertisers in general and for specific verticals in particular.

Texas and Florida lead the game. Texas is the state where the most investment is required if you work in Insurance, Real Estate, or Home & Garden. On the other hand, Florida is the most expensive state to advertise in Online Education, Online Banking, Automobile Dealerships, and Pharmaceuticals.

Across 17 industries explored, California is the most expensive state for advertisers from as many as six verticals: Legal, Marketing & Advertising, Internet & Telecom, Fitness & Health, Fashion Retail, and Electronics. Keywords related to Travel and Beauty & Skincare have the highest CPC in New York, while for those involved in Cryptocurrency and Jewelry it will be most expensive to advertise in New Jersey.

Breakdown by Industry

When analyzing different verticals in different states, we noticed that not all niches are equally location sensitive. In some industries the CPC range is quite small, while in other niches the average CPC differs significantly. According to this specificity, we divided all the categories into two groups.

More Location-Sensitive Industries

The first group contains industries where the CPC depends heavily on location.

We found out that the CPC range in the Insurance category is the largest one — from $19.14 in Texas to $5.51 in Alaska. What’s more, Insurance is one of the most expensive niches for PPC; in more than half of U.S. states the average CPC is higher than $10. And the “cheapest” click in this industry costs even more than the most expensive average click in a range of niches, such as Internet & Telecom ($3.89, California), Real Estate ($2.38, Texas), Travel ($1.67, New York), Cryptocurrency ($1.43, New Jersey), Fashion Retail ($1.08, California), and others.

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Insurance

Other categories where the average CPC differs significantly by state are Online Education, Legal, Marketing & Advertising, Online Banking, and Internet & Telecom:

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Online Education

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Legal

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Marketing & Advertising

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Online Banking

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Internet & Telecom

Less Location-Sensitive Industries

As for the rest of the industries, the cost per click in these niches is less dependent on location. For example, in Electronics the average CPC ranges from $0.81 in California to $0.09 in Montana.

Below you can see how the average CPC differs by state in industries where the most expensive average click costs no more than $2.5:  

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Automobile Dealership

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Real Estate

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Home & Garden

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Travel

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Cryptocurrency

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Fitness & Health

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Fashion Retail

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Beauty & Skincare

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Electronics

It’s curious that Pharmaceuticals and Jewelry are the two categories with the smallest CPC range — from $0.64 Florida and $0.09 in South Dakota for Pharmaceuticals and from $0.84 in New Jersey and New York to $0.44 in North Dakota and Wyoming for Jewelry.

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Pharmaceuticals

Most and least expensive states to advertise in - Jewelry

How You Can Apply this Data to Your Campaign

Leveraging local strategies is a great way for marketers to succeed with their PPC campaigns, as it helps to increase the performance of every single ad and optimize spends throughout an entire campaign. However, there is no universal recipe: you should explore how advertising spends differ in your industry and plan your activities based on this data.

The new and more precise local keyword metrics in SEMrush’s CPC Map tool will help you reveal new opportunities for your PPC activities and shift your focus to potentially lucrative regions in order to increase the return on ad spend.

Methodology

To conduct this study, we picked 86,000 random keywords from 17 industries (both high-volume and low-volume keywords were included, as well as short-head and long-tail keywords). Search queries mentioning cities were removed (for instance, “PR consultant” was included and “PR consultant Boston” was excluded). The data in this article, for the 17 groups representing industries, was found by calculating the mean CPC in each of the states.

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