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Many Search Engines have now started offering paid placement programs in addition to their already existing programs. When someone searches for a specific term, the listings show up in the order of highest bidder first, second highest bidder second and so on. If two companies bid the same amount, the first bid gets priority for the listing and will be listed first. Such programs are called Paid Placement Programs or Pay-per-click programs. You only pay when someone clicks on your listing and is delivered to your website.
Paid-Placement / Pay-per-click Campaigns – Paid Listing
Search Engine Marketing campaigns are effective for increasing website traffic quickly.
- Pay-per-click programs will allow you to quickly test the ability of your website to convert visitors to a call to action or make a purchase.
- You will be able to identify which keyword phrases will provide the best conversion rate.
While ordinary search results frequently include links to non-working pages, home pages with irrelevant content and filler listings, paid search content ensures a user will gain quick access to relevant sites of interest. Since each listing is displayed by either a keyword search or relevant text link, you are ensured only visitors with interest are being sent to your site. Thus, pay-per-click programs offer a more targeted approach.
Placement – Paid Listing Programs
The most prominent and successful Paid Listing Placement programs are Google Adwords and Overture.
In 1998, Overture was the first to charge advertisers to be listed in its search results. Now, all the major search companies have jumped in. So-called paid-search revenue grew 40% last year, to $1.4 billion. It's now up to 23% of the $6 billion Net advertising market, which shrank 17% last year, according to analysts' projections.
Placing ads near search results offers the simple appeal of the Yellow Pages, but with different economics. Overture made $78 million last year on $668 million in sales, about half of the paid-search market. That's more than Yahoo made on $953 million of revenue, largely from traditional online ads such as banners. Paid search also pushed search specialists LookSmart Ltd. and Ask Jeeves Inc. into profitability in the fourth quarter. And the biggest potential initial public offering of an Internet company this year is Google Inc., which began offering pay-per-click search last year. Search ads will make up the lion's share of Google's revenue, estimated at $350 million to $400 million.
Skyscraper Ads – Paid Listing
Skyscraper ads are one of the most popular types of advertising used on the Internet today, ah-ha.com offers keyword-targeted, categorical, CPC, and run of network skyscraper ads that can benefit your company. Your banner will be prominently featured through our distribution partners including AltaVista, EarthLink, and LookSmart.
LogoLink Account – Paid Listing
With a LogoLink account, you have the advantage of our proven Paid Listings product, and you improve your clickthrough chances with your company logo displayed next to your listing. You have the bonus benefit of a graphic, which generates 4 times the clickthrough, and the branding benefits are endless.
Searchfeed – Paid Listing
Searchfeed is another pay-per-click program that has gained popularity in recent times. Based on site relevancy, you bid for placement within search results distributed to leading Web portals, industry-specific sites, and regional Internet service providers through the Private Label Feed (PLF) program. While the program is much like any other pay per click program, the difference is that Searchfeed has tied up with several portals and high traffic sites and visitors to those sites may thus use the Searchfeed engine to find suppliers.
You select relevant keywords for your website, create a title and description for each listing and bid on select keywords based on site relevance. You pay for each targeted lead only.
You determine the value of each unique visitor to your site using the most appropriate search terms to build continuous traffic. The more targeted the pay per click search term, the higher the bid you will want to make to ensure high placement. Because you can place an individual bid on each specific keyword or phrase being displayed, the value of each lead can be determined based on how targeted the interest of a potential visitor might be.
A deposit of $25 is required to activate your account. Bid amounts can be as low as 1 cent.
Overture Premium Listings – Paid Listing
When you advertise in Overture Premium Listings, your business appears in the top U.S. search sites: MSN, Yahoo!, InfoSpace, Lycos, AltaVista, and Netscape.
Overture offers two sign-up plans, Fast Track or Self Serve. You have to select a few keywords with reference to your website. You have to then bid an amount (per click) and position in the search results for each of the keyword. If you have the highest bid for that position, Overture will display your website in the search result of the keyword selected, at the position selected, in each of the above-mentioned search engines. Note that even if your website is displayed in the search results you do not get charged the amount bid by you per click. It is only when a user clicks on your website link from the search results that you get charged that amount.
The higher the position, the higher is the current bid amount. Also, in order to keep your account active, you have to spend at least $20 a month. Your account with Overture will be discontinued if the total clicks on your website amount to less than $20.
The two sign-up plans, Fast Track or Self Serve, give you the choice of expert assistance or starting out on your own. Fast Track charges an additional one-time service fee of $199 whereas Self Serve does not have any service fee.
When you sign up with Overture using the Fast Track Sign-up program, you will receive a customized proposal prepared by one of the Overture experts. When you receive your proposal, all you have to do is approve of Overture's choices to get your search listings online. You can also make changes in the proposal yourself.
Two basic concepts apply to use these types of search engines (Overture and Google AdWords) to your best advantage:
- While you obviously want to pay the least possible amount for each hit you get, you're going to have to bid more if you want a higher listing and, therefore, more traffic. You have to carefully track the traffic you get from the search engine so you know the value of that traffic. If you don't know the value, you could be paying too much for your traffic or missing great opportunities to generate more traffic if you can afford the higher price.
In other words, let's assume you're selling an item with a $25 profit margin. If one (1%) percent of visitors to your site buy the product, then each visitor is worth twenty-five ($0.25) cents to you. If you get the traffic for less than that, you're making money on each sale.
- The other concept involves bidding for several hundred keywords at low prices such as one penny each. This way you get listed all over the search engine. Each keyword won't bring you much traffic by itself, but the total may be a hundred or more hits per day. If you're only paying a couple of pennies per hit for this traffic, then it should be profitable for you.
If you search popular terms like “business”, you'll find the cost to be number one is quite high and the position is usually held by a large enterprise like Inc. magazine or Entrepreneur magazine. Large companies are often willing to invest millions of dollars in building their brands so they'll pay more for traffic than it would normally be worth. I strongly suggest you don't compete with them unless you are absolutely sure your business model will justify it.
Often, you'll be able to find a top ten ranking for a third or less than the price to be the number “One”. Since you're limited to buying only traffic that's profitable for you, this position will be better suited for you. Even if you end up far lower in the rankings, you must stay within your proper range for investment. You'll probably get less traffic than the number one ranking, but you'll get the traffic you can make money on. That's far more important.
On another note, Overture is also planning to come up with its own Contextual Advertising business solution soon to compete with Google AdSense.
Submit targeted keywords – Paid Listing
Submitting an extended list of keywords may not be useful. In fact, you won't get as many potential customers to your website with an extended list of keywords as you would with focused and targeted keywords. Besides, you would also end up paying more without any benefits.
Targeted keywords would ensure that only those visitors who are actually interested in your product or service click on the search listing and visit your website. Thus, there are more chances of a visitor becoming a loyal customer.
Bid on as many low-cost relevant terms – Paid Listing
The cost of a top position with any of the big PPC's depends upon the keyword you are bidding on and how many people search for it. If you have to bid on a popular word such as ‘Internet marketing' be prepared to pay around $2 – $4 for a decent position. But what if you went for “Internet marketing articles” it costs less than a quarter of the price, it will produce far fewer visits of course but is much more cost-effective. Imagine doing this on a wide scale basis, securing lots of low-cost positions, the combined traffic from these positions will add up to the level produced by a popular keyword – but at a fraction of the cost.
Re-evaluate and adjust your bids – Paid Listing
If you determine that the traffic generated by a specific keyword is more valuable to you than other keywords, you can go online and immediately raise your bid for that term. You will instantly increase your traffic.
It would be a good idea to even track the patterns of which days and times generate the most sales from Search Engine traffic. During this prime time, you should raise your bids to increase traffic. As soon as the slot ends, you should lower your bids to the old levels.
Develop a catchy title and description – Paid Listing
When the search engine user gets the result of a search, they'll see the highlighted titles for each listing followed by a short description. You should think of this just like a classified ad with a headline and short copy.
Here are some tips for formulating effective titles and descriptions:
• Use an attention-getting headline to get as many people as possible to read the description. Here's where you want to be sure to use the important proven successful terms like “free” and “you”.
• Write a description that succinctly tells the reader why he or she would be a fool not to click on your link. For most keywords, this is the best plan because you're only paying a penny or two for the click-through. But, you'll want to be more selective about the copy for the more expensive bids. If you're going to pay a quarter for each click through, then you may want to have higher quality traffic. You don't want just anyone to click through. You want people more likely to buy.
• You should have the ability to track each keyword so you can determine the success ratios of clickthroughs to sales. All programs discussed above will allow you to use their system to track clickthroughs.
Guaranteed Inclusion – Paid Listing
Guaranteed Inclusion allows you to submit your website listings for inclusion in the search results throughout websites such as Excite, DogPile, Verizon, WebCrawler, and more. This program gives you a yearly subscription to websites with an 85% Internet reach giving you an opportunity to reach millions
The primary disadvantage of paid inclusion is the cost, although this factor naturally depends on your means. Typically, submitting to a few paid programs would cost anywhere around $1000 a year.
ConsiderationsThere are many factors to consider when examining paid URL inclusion. The following five are some of the most common:
Are my pages already in the index?
Just because you can't find your pages when you enter search terms does not mean that your pages haven't been indexed. To see if your pages have been indexed, go to the engine and search for each of your exact page URLs in quotes. If each page shows up for the URL search but not for a search of any key phrases related to the page, paid inclusion will not help your rankings (your pages are already in the index and have been ranked according to their perceived value). It would be much more beneficial to invest some time and/or money in optimizing your pages for better rankings (you can still consider paid inclusion afterward if you don't want to wait for the spider to revisit).
Is it a good investment for me?
Naturally, budgetary constraints can be a primary consideration. If you can't afford paid inclusion, then it obviously isn't an option. However, simply because you can afford it does not mean it is a good investment. For example, a business that sells a very inexpensive product online that is counting on volumes of traffic may not see a good return on their investment (again, 3 of the top 4 engines do not offer paid URL inclusion). On the other hand, if your business has a high average dollar sale and you put a high value on each quality lead, you might consider immediately paid URL inclusion a no-brainer.
Do my pages change frequently?
If your web pages are subject to daily or weekly changes in content, paid inclusion may offer some additional benefits. When your pages are spidered frequently, all new content is indexed by the engine soon after it is added to your pages. This means that your pages will begin to appear in searches for terms related to the new content much more quickly.
Are my important pages dynamically generated?
Some search engine spiders have a problem finding and indexing pages that are dynamically generated (such pages often have a question mark somewhere in the URL). By paying to include the important pages of your dynamically generated website, you can be sure that they are in the engine's index, even if the “organic” spider would never find them on its own.