One of the ways to boost traffic to your Web site is by
purchasing keywords from one of the pay-per-click search engines or
But with literally hundreds of choices, how do you pick the
pay-per-click engine with the best visibility that has the potential of giving
you a higher return on your investment?
And, just as important, what are some strategies for working
with the pay-per-click engines, and how do they operate?
How do Pay-Per-Click Engines Operate?
With pay-per-click engines, you bid on keywords that describe
your business, your products, or your target audience. Then, you’re
charged your bid price every time someone clicks on your ad, which is displayed
when a searcher types in the keyword you’ve chosen into the search box at
an engine. Whoever is willing to pay the most for the keyword or keyword phrase
will be at the top of the rankings.
There are many benefits to working with pay engines, which
we’ll cover in this article.
Important Pay-Per-Click Engines and Directories
Overture is certainly the pay-per-click engine that most people
recognize. It’s also one of the most expensive and competitive.
However, the visibility of Overture is impressive, to say the
least. It provides the top two or three results to “big boy” search
engines and directories like Yahoo!, Lycos, HotBot, and MSN Search. In fact,
Overture claims to reach 80% of all Internet users.
Overture listings are generally found at the top of the regular
search results in an area called “Sponsored” results or sites.
Overture’s pay-per-clicks operate under one premise:
whoever has the deepest pockets and is willing to pay the most gets on top.
The minimum bid is $.10, and there’s a minimum charge of
$20 per month. A $50 initial deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to
click throughs or to the minimum monthly spend. When your account is depleted,
they’ll contact you to see if you want to add additional funds to your
Google AdWords have fast become extremely important in the
pay-per-click arena, with results being shown at search engines like Google,
AOL Search, Ask Jeeves, and Teoma.
Google AdWords operates differently than Overture in a number of
ways. Your click-through rate and cost per click together determine where your
ads are shown, so better ads rise to the top. That means no one can lock you
out of the top position.
Google AdWords are shown on the right-hand side of regular
search results in a pink shaded area called “Sponsored Links.”
Because your click through rate has an influence on the
placement of your AdWords ad, your ad’s title and description must be
captivating and designed to pull in traffic.
With Google AdWords, there’s a $5 activation fee, and the
minimum bid amount is $.05. You decide on the maximum cost per click that
you’re willing to pay and set your daily budget. You don’t have to
spend a certain amount per month, and you only pay for clicks you actually
Another popular pay-per-click engine that is generally much less
expensive than Overture is FindWhat.
With FindWhat, whoever bids the most gets on top. The minimum
bid is $.05, and they require a $25 minimum amount to open an account.
FindWhat provides results to 200 different partners, including
many of the big meta engines like Dogpile.
Lycos InSite AdBuyer
A fairly new pay-per-click program that’s displayed on both
Lycos and HotBot is Lycos InSite AdBuyer.
Again, it operates similarly to the way that Overture and
FindWhat operate, with the top results being those who bid the most for their
The minimum bid is $.05 with a $50 minimum to open an account.
LookSmart is a pay-per-click directory where you pay a flat $.l5
per click through. It claims to reach 77% of the Internet users through the
partners that display LookSmart results.
Some of those partners include MSN Search, About.com, Netscape,
With LookSmart, you don’t bid for listings. Everyone pays a
flat $.15 per click through, and your ranking is determined by how relevant
your site is to the search term, according to LookSmart’s ranking
criteria. To get started with a LookSmart listing, the initial investment is
Other Pay-Per-Click Engines
This comprehensive site lists over 500 different pay-per-click
search engines and offers individual reviews on many of them.
Advantages to Working with the Pay Engines
The pay engines offer many advantages to Web site owners,
1. If you have a brand new site with little or no visibility and
no link popularity, the pay engines are certainly a way to get started fast
while you wait for your standard search engine marketing efforts to kick in and
2. Pay-per-click engines are ideal for holiday promotions,
special sales, or to jump start slow engine traffic.
3. With the pay engines, you have instant visibility in
whichever search engines display those results.
4. You choose your rankings, depending on how deep your pocket
5. If some of your keywords aren't performing, you can choose
6. You only pay for clicks to your site, so you can target your
traffic by the keywords you choose.
7. With regular optimization efforts, it's sometimes difficult
to achieve top rankings if you're in a highly competitive field. With the pay
engines, you pay for your rankings, and VOILA! You're there!
8. Purchasing keywords is certainly easier and less time
consuming than optimizing your pages.
9. With regular engines, when algorithms (or ranking criteria)
change, you can find yourself booted out of your top spot. With the pay
engines, as long as you're willing to hand out the cash, you'll be on top.
10.You can target your audience based on the keywords you
choose. Most Web sites have multiple target audiences, so pay-per-click
keywords are a way to reach each of those target audiences.
11.Pay-per-click is generally less expensive than traditional
12.With pay-per-click engines, you don't have to worry about
design strategies that could mean death to a Web site otherwise. Is your entire
site one huge Flash movie? No problem, if you go through the pay engines.
Tips for Boosting Your Chances for Success with the Pay
When working with the pay engines, it takes practice to achieve
a level of success. So, start out slowly, and keep a tight rein on your budget.
As you become better at crafting titles and descriptions and choosing highly
targeted keywords, you’ll gradually be able to increase your budget, if
Here are some additional tips:
1. It's not always best to be #1. Many compulsive "clickers"
automatically click on the #1 result when they have no real interest in buying
your products or services.
2. Be sure to include your keyword phrase in the title and
description you create at the pay engines. Take special care in creating a
description for your site, since within the top three slots, the best
description gets the most traffic, as a general rule.
3.Your keywords must be relevant to the content of your pages.
Overture is particularly careful about this.
4. Choose very targeted keywords so that you don't pay for
needless click throughs. Don’t ever choose a general keyword, because your
costs will skyrocket but the traffic won’t convert to sales.
5. Spend time researching your keyword choices at Overture's
Search Term Suggestion Tool
or my favorite, WordTracker:
6. Generally, you'll have more success if you purchase 10- 20
keywords as opposed to just a few.
7. Choose a broad range of keywords and bid prices and test the
waters. Watch your keywords carefully. Non-productive keywords should be
eliminated and new, more productive keywords should be purchased instead.
8. For Overture, consider purchasing a "Premium Listing," which
means that you hold the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd ranking for your keyword phrase. Why?
Because engines like AltaVista and Lycos show the first listings only.
9. Set up a separate "tracking" page to send your pay engine
traffic. In order to show whether or not the cost is worth it, you need to be
able to track your click throughs and sales. Don't send pay engine traffic to
your home page.
10.Write your title and description using “objective”
language rather than “subjective.” In other words, don’t say
that your product or service is the best or #1 (subjective). Rather, list some
of the benefits of your service that make it unique (objective).
You’ll find many benefits to purchasing keywords through
pay-per-click engines, but you need to learn some basic guidelines before you
get started. By doing so, you’ll hopefully find more successful when
working with the pay engines.
Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine
Workshops with John Alexander. They teach 2-day beginner, 3-day advanced, and
5-day all-inclusive "hands on" search engine marketing
workshops in locations across the globe. She also teaches
online search engine marketing
courses through http://www.onlinewebtraining.com,
and she’s a member of Wordtracker’s official
question support team. Robin has two books on the market: Maximize Web Site
Traffic and Web Site Analysis and Reporting.
Copyright 2005 Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed
under a Creative Commons License.