The 25 Most Expensive Keywords in AdWords – 2017 Edition!


top most expensive adwords keywords

Way, way back in 2011, when the world was young and fidget spinners weren’t yet a thing, there was lore floating around in the search marketing world that “mesothelioma” was the most expensive keyword to bid on in Google AdWords, costing upwards of $100 per click. But was it true?

I had a little idea: What if we used data from our Free Keyword Tool to determine which keywords had the highest costs per click (or CPC’s) in Google AdWords, driving up online advertising costs?

The infographic we created based on that data is still one of our most popular and most linked to pages ever, but people often ask us for updated data.

Those people, and curious people everywhere, are in luck! We’ve completed a new, comprehensive analysis of keyword data for five different currencies in English-speaking countries (check out for the data for GBP, CAD, AUS, and ZAR too!).

This time around, we determined the top 25 most expensive keywords (meaning these niche markets are super-competitive) along with their average CPC – and six years later, the results are substantially different!

Ready to see what the most expensive keywords are in 2017? Here we go:

most expensive keywords in google adwords

About the data

Here’s how we got the list: We pulled all the data collected from anonymous AdWords Performance Grader reports across all industries between June 1, 2016 and June 12, 2017, then looked at the top 1000 most expensive keywords seen during that time period and categorized them by core intent.

For example, we lumped the keywords “bail bonds” and “bail bonds los angeles” into a single category since the core intent is the same. Likewise, keywords involving different types of lawyers (such as “malpractice lawyer” and “injury lawyer”) or insurance were grouped together. We used a similar methodology last time so as to avoid featuring too many specific long-tail or local keywords that wouldn’t have broad applicability to a large number of businesses. We separated distinct services (pest control vs. termites) as much as possible.

We also filtered out keywords with less than 100 clicks from our data set. We only looked at advertisers bidding in USD, GBP, AUD, CAD, and ZAR, and analyzed different currencies separately. We also eliminated non-English ads and duplicates (where both the keyword and the CPC were exactly the same) from that set. The results you’re reading about in this article are in USD.

Shout out to everyone who helped compile, analyze, and illustrate the data: our data analyst Josh Brackett, our web team leader Meg Lister, and our designer Kate Lindsay.

What are the most expensive keywords in AdWords?

The top 25 most expensive keywords in AdWords are as follows:


Top 25 Most Expensive Keywords
Keyword Average CPC
 Business Services $58.64
 Bail Bonds $58.48
 Casino $55.48
 Lawyer $54.86
 Asset Management $49.86
 Insurance $48.41
 Cash Services & Payday Loans $48.18
 Cleanup & Restoration Services $47.61
 Degree $47.36
 Medical Coding Services $46.84
 Rehab $46.14
 Psychic $43.78
 Timeshare $42.13
 HVAC $41.24
 Business Software $41.12
 Medical Needs $40.73
 Loans $40.69
 Plumber $39.19
 Termites $38.88
 Pest Control $38.84
 Mortgages $36.76
 Online Gambling $32.84
 Banking $31.43
 Hair Transplant $31.37
 Google AdWords $30.06



What makes these keywords so expensive?

Generally, AdWords keyword costs get driven up in particular niches for one of the following reasons:

People have a bad problem they really need to fix now

When people are desperate for help, they’re willing to spend more on services or products to get that problem solved. That means the companies doing the advertising can charge more for those services, and they can often achieve strong ROI on their ad spend even with high costs per click.

These spaces are also highly competitive, because people don’t necessarily spend a long time deciding where they’re going to shop – they want help NOW! For example, one of the top keywords in the “medical services” category is “emergency room near me.” If the advertiser is in the right place at the right time, they can profit big. (Not that I think private companies should be profiting off people who need emergency care…)

Examples of keywords related to urgent problems include:

  • “Bail bonds” at #2
  • “Lawyer” at #4
  • “Cash services & payday loans” at #7
  • “Rehab” at #11
  • “Plumber” at #18
  • “Termites” at #19
  • “Pest control” at #20

adwords expensive costs per click

High-priced items or services

Last time around, insurance-related keywords were at the very top of the list. According to our data, insurance is no longer king of the hill. That’s good news for marketers trying to drive leads in the insurance industry, right? (Sort of – they’re still almost $50 per click on average. And there are outliers, like “malpractice insurance,” that can cost over $300 per click!)

Now, the most expensive keywords are in the category “business services” – stuff like “data room” and “network security monitoring” – most likely because these services tend to be costly. Companies offering business services are willing to bid more per keyword because there’s so much to gain when a prospect does convert, whether it’s a single big purchase or a service with a high customer lifetime value.

Our last infographic showed that finance-related keywords (like loans keywords and mortgage keywords) are some of the most costly. You can see similar trends this year – see “asset management” at #5 ($49.86 per click) and “banking” at #23.

Law keywords are still way up there, and on average keywords related to legal services are even more expensive ($54.86 per click compared to $42.51 in 2011). This is part of why marketing for law firms can be a challenge.

Fulfilling your hopes and dreams (and addictions)

People will pay a lot to have their dreams come true. For some, those dreams are about getting an education. Y’all love learning and “degree” remains a very expensive keyword (too bad for those of you marketing in the higher education industry).

Once you get a degree, you can get a higher-paying job, and then reward yourself with a big vacation. Travel-related keywords like “Hilton timeshare reviews” make an appearance this year at #13 on the list.

what the most expensive keywords in adwords

But people clicking on ads haven’t kicked all their bad habits – “casino” is way up there at #3 ($55.48 per click) and “online gambling” makes an appearance too, at #22. Who needs a Vegas vacation when the fun’s right there in your laptop?

You’re also talking to psychics and getting hair transplants. #questionablechoices

The 25th most expensive keyword in Google AdWords is … Google AdWords?

We weren’t expecting this one.

Sometimes people google “google,” and sometimes people bid on “google adwords” in Google AdWords. (OK, we admit it. You’re looking at some of those people right now.)

Want to know what keywords are popular (and how much they’ll cost) in YOUR industry?

We can help with that!

Our newly revamped Free Keyword Tool (currently in beta release) has a cool feature that lets you filter your results by industry.

For example, let’s say you want to find keywords related to cars, but you’re in the finance industry and you’re only interested in terms that are relevant to your business. Type in “cars” and select “Finance & Banking” as your industry, and you’ll see results like this:

wordstream free keyword tool

Your results include terms like “new car lease” and “new car incentives.” However, if you chose “Arts & Entertainment” as your industry, you’d see results like “cars film” and “pixar cars”:

free keywords

This can really help you to zero in on only the keywords that are going to help you build out your search marketing campaigns, filtering out irrelevant terms so you don’t have to weed through them yourself. You can filter your results by 24 different industries.

Check it out yourself.

What about those top 25 keywords – were you surprised?

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Jun 28, 2017

I did a quick search for "divorce" and that averages over 100USD

"divorce attorney in phoenix" is $159.33

Elisa Gabbert
Jun 28, 2017

There are single keywords with higher CPC's, yes, but we looked for pockets of related keywords with very high CPC's on average. "divorce attorney" would have ended up in our lawyer category

Brian Loebig
Jun 28, 2017

Great list and research Elisa! "Lawyer" and "Plumber" was no surprise, but "Google Adwords" as a high priced keywords? #thingsthatmakeyougohmm

Elisa Gabbert
Jun 28, 2017

Thanks Brian! That surprised me too but "Advertising" was one of the top 10 most expensive niches in the UK data set

Jun 29, 2017

Whouah, it's amazing !!! 50 $ per clic... it's enormous.... thanks for this article, it's very interesting for an affiliate seo :)

Elisa Gabbert
Jun 29, 2017

Hope you can make some use out of it :)

Jun 29, 2017

Casino in the list? Is casino/gambling allowed? May in some countries?

Jun 29, 2017

You can bid for gambling, alcohol and other "forbidden" subjects as long as your ads copy and landing page follow some rules. In some cases you get a limited approved ad, but if you keep trying you might get it right.

Jun 29, 2017

Well certainly those are not the most expensive keywords but people in those markets don't use wordstream and I would advise anyone to stay away as the data is being shared even if it is anonymized.

Elisa Gabbert
Jun 29, 2017

Hi Bogdan, if you consult the "about the data" section you'll see that the data comes from our AdWords Grader (which has been used well over 1 million times and analyzed billions in dollars of spend), not WordStream customers. This is a huge data set and we're confident in the accuracy. Further: The use of the data is compliant with Google's API guidelines as you can see if you check out our Master Subscription Agreement:

Jon Garner
Jun 29, 2017

This is very helpful. Thanks.

mike ahuja
Jun 29, 2017

So when i researched for adwords last week and notice to not do it cause the related words were pricey ...its only cause its top 5 most expensive word least i wasnt crazy when i picked some tiny city with only 5000 pop and put exact search in adword and it was still crazy pricey

Navin Rai
Jun 30, 2017

Hi Elisa,
Nice blog. It was very full of information about keywords. Thank you sharing such a nice blog.

Jul 01, 2017

Even the home improvement, furniture space is very costly like windows treatment, roofers, HVAC setup.

Jul 03, 2017

What about the hosting industry? CPC goes up to $150 in that industry

Aug 13, 2017

WOW this is interesting :O

Ahsan Ul Haq
Aug 14, 2017

Where is Beta tool?

Allen Finn
Aug 14, 2017

Right here!

Aug 31, 2017

How about tech related blogs? I couldn't see any of their keywords in your list.

Shaukat ali
Sep 30, 2017

article is very good, we can do more earning from these keywords. thanks for sharing with us a valuable knowledge. i have question
Q. How to i target these keyword to get higher CPC ?

Please Reply

google translate
Oct 01, 2017

very good article i am complete check all keywords great and high quality information provided good

harshal joshi
Oct 04, 2017

thanks great list this is really helping to earn extra from adsence
thanks you keep up the good work :)

Raheel Rehman
Oct 05, 2017

Well, its nice to see that you have extracted some keywords, but I think that these are only a few keywords, you should find some more like other people made list.

Oct 25, 2017

so what about computer programming 4 video games how much does that cost

ram chandra dash
Oct 29, 2017


I would like to thanks for give me some industry ideas, it will be great for me to get some business fro there. But apart from this niche there other industry also where bid is higher than this.

Thanks again

Nov 17, 2017

Very Attractive Keywords, and thanks alot to posting.

Nov 24, 2017

wow! This help me a lot

Dec 06, 2017

This is very helpful. Thanks.

Dec 23, 2017

I have seen along with google adsense, hosting topics also gets high cpc..... and educational keywords as well....
I am trying to cover niche on educational topics... Plese suggest if you have anything for me...

Shreyas Banakar
Dec 31, 2017

Amazing article keep up the good work like this here.

Jan 18, 2018

This is really some great info thanks for sharing it..

Jan 28, 2018

Thanks for sharing all important and high cpc keywords and i want to choose 'Degree' Keyword for my new blog.

larry Ellision
Feb 01, 2018

Great...!! that's great advice, I read and also saw your every post, nice artical very usefull your post Thank you so much for sharing this and the information provide.

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