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 budget.
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 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 receive.
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 target keywords.
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, and AltaVista.
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 $29.
Other Pay-Per-Click Engines: PayPerClickSearchEngines.com
This comprehensive site lists over 500 different pay-per-click search engines and offers individual reviews on many of them.
(In Part 2 of this article, we'll continue by discussing the advantages to
working with pay engines. For the complete article, write to Robin Nobles at
About The Author
Robin Nobles, Co-Director of Training, Search Engine Workshops, teaches 2-, 3-, and 5-day hands-on, search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. She also teaches online search engine marketing courses and has two books available through Amazon and other bookstores.