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Pay Per Click Advertising - An Introduction to the Major Pay Per Click Search Engine Programs

Despite the slump in online advertising and marketing, search engine marketing is booming! Finally, people are catching on to the power of search engine marketing. While search engine optimization can be an intensive time consuming process that requires a complete site overhaul, pay per click advertising is fast, easy and a much more exact science than optimization.

Pay per click search engine advertising offers the following benefits:

  • Only pay for visitors to your website - Unlike most banner and "rich media" ad campaigns that are usually purchased on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis, pay per click programs only charge you when someone actually visits your website.
  • Reach consumers during a time of need - When a consumer is using a search engine like Google to look for information you don't have to interrupt them to get them to visit your site. They are actively searching for information. (Consumers are starting to abhor intrusive online advertising)
  • Precise Targeting - Target people looking for your products, services, and informational content regardless of age, sex, income, of other inexact demographic classifications.
  • Easily control your expenses - With pay per click, you know exactly what you get for your money. If you receive visitors from the campaign, you'll pay a price you determine for each visitor. There is no guesswork.
  • Rapid testing and feedback - Feedback from pay per click advertising can be instantaneous if you use one of the pay per click ROI tracking or campaign management tools. You'll know exactly how well your investment is performing in real time. What could be better than that?
  • Rapid deployment - A pay per click complete with ROI tracking can be up and running in 15 minutes. There are no banners (and associated costs) to create and haggle over; simply write some text ads and get them up and running.
  • Scalability - Whether your monthly budget is $20.00 or $200.00 you can use pay per click advertising to grow your business.
  • Global reach - Not only can you be up and running in 20 minutes, you can reach a global audience quickly and easily, particularly with Google AdWords.

Pay Per Click Search Engine Basics

When you setup an account with any pay per click search engine advertising program your ranking for each keyword is determined (at least in part) by the amount you are willing to pay per click (your bid).

The higher you bid, the higher you will rank. You can set a different bid price for each keyword. If you are a small business with a minimal budget to invest in pay per click advertising you'll probably want to take a guerrilla approach and bid low on keywords your competitors have overlooked. If you've got a more substantial budget it can be to your advantage to start with higher bids, collect some conversion data and more quickly evaluate the direction your campaign should take.

What are the best pay per click programs?

Google AdWords Top Pick!

When you participate in the AdWords program you have the option to syndicate your message on all international version of Google, search partners like AOL, Ask Jeeves, and Earthlink and content sites like HowStuffWorks.com. Within 15 minutes you can be up and running with a (small) global advertising test campaign.

When you use Google AdWords you are not buying placement within the actual search results (those aren't for sale, not yet anyway). You purchase text ads in the little colored boxes on the right hand side of the main search results. The ads that generate the most revenue for Google (bid price * click through rate) rise to the top.

Like the pure pay per click search engines (Overture for example) you only pay Google when someone clicks on your listing no matter how many times it is displayed. Campaign setup, strategy, testing, analysis and optimization of a Google AdWords campaign is covered in the forthcoming Google AdWords Superstar report. For now, go check out the tutorial on how to set up a Google AdWords Account.

Overture - Massive Reach on MSN, YAHOO!

Overture started out as GoTo.com. GoTo.com was a pioneer in the pay per click search engine advertising arena and has always based search engine rankings on the amount the advertiser was willing to pay per click.

GoTo.com was Renamed Overture Services, Inc. in October 2001 and continued to operate in the same manner. The price per click on Overture starts at $0.10 and the monthly minimum spend is $20.00. (Overture is currently offering a $10.00 discount on new account signups.)

When you advertise on Overture and set your bids high enough to rank in the top 3 spots your listings will usually be syndicated on YAHOO!, MSN, AltaVista, and FAST (www.alltheweb.com). Your rankings in Overture will fluctuate constantly because the market for keyword placements is competitive and everyone is trying to strike the right balance between traffic, and bid price. There are Overture approved pay per click management services that can help to combat this, however, they can be expensive. Many offer free trials so its definitely worth trying one or more pay per click management tools.

Due to a more extensive editorial review process than Google AdWords, it generally takes up to a week to get live with the standard account, or 3 days if the more expensive ($199.00) "Fast Track" option. is selected. If you choose the fast track option today, you'll get $50.00 of the setup fee.

For more on Overture, check out the introductory article on Overture pay per click advertising.

LookSmart - Target MSN for $0.15/click!

Just like Overture and Google AdWords, business at LookSmart is booming. LookSmart offers pay per click advertising of a different sort. With the LookSmart Small Business Listings, you can submit one URL to the LookSmart directory for a fee of what is usually $49.00 (sometimes there are special offers). If approved, and most listings are, your site will be placed in the LookSmart directory. Within a day or two it will be syndicated across the LookSmart syndication network.

MSN is currently the largest and most important syndication partner and 90% or more of the traffic you receive from the LookSmart network will come from MSN. The cost per click for this traffic is currently $0.15 per click.

The main difference between pay per click advertising on LookSmart and other programs like Google AdWords is the flat $0.15 per click fee and the fact that you cannot buy specific placements for specific keywords. If you utilize the LookSmart pay per click program you will be subject to a $15.00 monthly minimum spend.
At times, LookSmart creates special offers that enable small businesses to submit up to 5 pages from a website. Discounts on review and listing update services are sometimes offered as well.

For more on how to make the most of advertising on LookSmart, see the article on pay per click advertising on MSN, through LookSmart.

Ready to begin pay per click advertising? Hop on over to the Google AdWords, Overture, or LookSmart signup pages and begin the account setup process. If you'd like to learn a bit more before making any decisions, read the Keyword Marketing Superstar articles on Google AdWords, Overture, and LookSmart.

Other pay per click advertising programs to consider:

In addition to the major programs mentioned above there are shopping search engines like DealTime.com that offer pay per click programs for product listings, smaller pay per click engines like FindWhat, Ah-ha, and Kanoodle. There are literally hundreds of other pay per click search engines out there.

And one keyword marketing program to avoid…

IGN (iGetNet) keywords is another program you may have heard of. You've probably gotten email Spam from someone trying to sell IGN keywords or a phone call from an aggressive and convincing sales rep trying to sell you this product. While it's not a pay per click program, it is a source of confusion for many new to keyword marketing. In the opinion of Keyword Marketing Superstar, this is not a worthwhile program to participate in and it is to your advantage not to download the browser plug in that makes this program work.

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