While most folks are familiar with Search Engines, many are not aware that quite a few of the listings are being generated by paying advertisers. In this article I attempt to explain pay-per-click search engines and how they could benefit you as a Webmaster.
Pay Per Click search engines have been around for several years. One of the first was GoTo.com (now Overture.com), but now there are dozens on the market, some catering to unique niche traffic, while others are more reminiscent of the typically SE. There are even adult PPCs available like Sex.com. As it becomes more and more difficult to obtain high rankings on the free Search Engines, PPC engines become an attractive alternative to the webmaster. Many PPC engines will sell their listing to other Search Engines adding extra exposure to the listing you are paying for. Some PPCs will include free listings (after their paid listings), adding benefit to the surfer. Traffic generated by a PPC listing can even makes a web site more popular, and often helps improve its ranking on free search engines! To attest to the popularity of PPCs I have seen several books on the subject, and there are companies now selling PPC management software!
How It Works
Pay Per Click search engines let Webmaster's add their site to the SE listings and enter bids for listing position on keywords (also called search terms). Webmasters then bid against each other for the best ranking they can afford. Think eBay meets Yahoo!
Pay-Per-Click Search Engines work like on-line auctions, except the item you are bidding on is the ranking of your listing based on a specific search term or keyword. Once your listing is listed at a specific bid price, you are "charged" that bid price every time someone clicks on your link. The concept is similar to banner advertisement, except you decide how much your link is worth. Most PPCs work the same way.
1. You will need to open an account with the PPC
2. You add your listing to the PPC by providing the URL, Title, and listing Description
3. You add funds to your account. All PPCs require the money up front in order to fund your listings. when the money runs out, your listing is removed from the search engine until you re-fund your account
4. You add search terms (or keywords) for your listing
5. You bid on placement of those search terms (or keywords)
Not All PPCs are Created Equal
While they all appear to have similar rules and requirements, the fact is some are just better than others. Of course a lot of what makes a PPC good is the purpose it fills. Overture is one of the most popular on the market today. This popularity provides high quality and large quantity traffic for your listing, however this comes at a price. With most "1st place" listings costing upwards of 50 cents a click, this PPC is out of reach of the average webmaster. However by selecting lesser used search terms, it is still possible to get a #1 ranking for a reasonable cost.
There are several smaller PPCs that will allow you a #1 listing for a more reasonable cost. At the same time, these PPCs cannot generate the volumes of traffic an Overture would. The trick is to find a balance between getting the most targeted traffic for the best price.
Many PPCs will revue your search terms for relevancy, this creates a better experience for the surfer, and ensures that your listings compete in a level playing field. Then there are others, that will completely disregard relevancy, which could be used to your advantage.
Many PPCs have stringent rules regarding keyword relevancy and Adult listings. It is important to find a PPC that will allow you to add your adult listing, and also allow you to bid on the proper keywords. Many PPCs will restrict keywords such as "teens, facials, girls, panties" from adult listings. This can make it very difficult to get your listing out the target audience you require. Here is a list of some of the more popular PPC engines out there.
--> http://www.epilot.com PPCs offer the opportunity to immediately feed targeted traffic to your site when you need it the most.
Why Pay When I Can Get It Free?
Ok, so your saying to yourself, why should I pay for a listing when I could just submit my site to Yahoo? Good question!
Well first of anyone just starting out will attest to the fact that it is not all that easy to get your site listed in the major search engines. And even when you do get listed, your chances of having a high placement on the SE is minimal at best. PPCs offer the opportunity to immediately feed targeted traffic to your site when you need it the most. By properly maximizing your PPC budget, it is possible to get very good converting traffic into your site early on when your income will be hardest to come by.
It may be beneficial to pay for placement while you are waiting for your listings on the free Search Engines to be approved (this is usually a lengthy process). PPCs can also be used to enhance your current free listings. Many of the PPCs will sell your listings to other SEs thereby increasing your visibility. This may also increase your link popularity to your site, making it easier to get listed in the free SEs. With more and more SEs turning to the Pay-Per-Click model, it may become harder to get a free listing.
Hopefully I've sparked your interest in Pay-Per-Click Search Engines. In my next article I will discuss some strategies for maximizing your advertising dollars with PPCs.