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Using Pay-Per-Click Search Engines on a Budget

by: SBC Staff

Utilizing pay-per-click search engines can be the best way to get highly targeted, qualified potential customers to your site. You'll need to carefully select the keywords you want to bid on and vigorously test them to make sure you get the results you want.

The largest pay-per-click search engine is Overture at Because Overture provides search results to Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Alta Vista, Lycos, Netscape, Info Space and other major search engines, it can be a powerful one to use. Your listings on Overture can be on these other engines at the same time giving you more bang for your buck. There is a minimum bid requirement of 5 cents per click with a $20 per month minimum spend and $50 deposit requirement. If you are careful and creative in choosing your keywords, 5 cents can put you at the top of many categories. Remember that the traffic you get from pay-per-click engines is about as targeted as you can get. These people are out there actively seeking you and your opportunity at the time they click on your link.

If you don't have a lot of cash to play with and your keywords seem to be in high demand (meaning very expensive), you will want to try some creative variations of your keywords, even misspellings! Many Internet users are not natural typists and do tend to misspell when typing in their search terms. Try to anticipate this and bid on misspellings of your keywords. No one else will likely be doing this so you should get a high ranking for a low price per click.

Even if you do not plan on using Overture, use their search tool to evaluate your keywords and search phrases. Go to the Search Suggestion Tool at

and enter some of the keywords you've identified that are relevant to your site. The tool will return a listing of similar terms along with the number of searches made on each term during the last month. Print out the lists for each major keyword and then go to the advertiser's login page and find the "Bid Tool." Enter your keywords and the alternate search phrases on your lists to see what the current bids are. The tool will list the first 40 positions and the bid at each position. You will probably find that a minimum bid will give you the first position for some very good search phrases. These are the ones you want to bid on. Let's go through an example to illustrate this process.

Let's say that you sell an ecommerce package that includes a storefront, merchant account and free hosting of the store. You sell it for $75.00 per month with no setup fees. You consider your product a low cost ecommerce package. If you look up the keyword "ecommerce" in the bid tool, you will see that the number one slot will cost you $3.02 per click. You also see from the Search Suggestion Tool that there were 5,000 hits for this keyword last month. Therefore, it would cost you $15,100 to have the number one position if all 5,000 searchers clicked on your link. This is obviously too expensive. So you try "ecommerce solutions" in the bid tool and find that the top position will cost you $.52 per click. This is much better, but still too expensive.

But keep going and you'll find that you can get the number one position for "ecommerce system" for only $.10, the number one position for "cheap ecommerce" for the minimum bid of $.05, and top ten listings for "small business ecommerce," "ecommerce host," and "ecommerce provider" with the minimum bid. This is much more like it!

Look at the visitors using these search terms during the prior month and you'll see that these terms generated 900 to 1,000 clicks. You can continue to evaluate alternative terms until you have top or high positions in dozens of categories that, together, will provide you with the hits you believe you need. If you want the 5,000 hits you would get using "ecommerce", you can get them at $.05 instead of $3.02 per click by using this methodology.

To this point we have talked about using tools provided by Overture. What if you don't want to bid on Overture? After all, the minimum bid has been raised to $.05 as opposed to $.01 on the others.

Since Overture is currently the largest PPC engine by far, it should, and usually does, provide a good sampling of results that should apply on the other engines as well. Once you have determined which search phrases you want to bid on, there is one more tool that you can use. Compare Your Clicks at allows you to enter a search term and see the bids for the top six positions on nine different PPC engines.

For example, if you enter "ecommerce system" at CompareYourClicks at the time this portion of this book is being written, you will find that the top position can be had for a bid of $.10 on Overture, $.02 on FindWhat, and $.01 on Sprinks, Ah-Ha and GoClick. You've found yourself a bargain!

Here are two more tips you should consider when using pay-per-click engines:

1. Draft your listing for use in the search results very carefully. Remember we said you sell your low cost ecommerce solution for $75.00 per month. If you were creating an ad for use on a classified site, your goal would be to get the reader to visit your site and then convince them that $75.00 is an excellent price for your service. On the PPC engines, you want to include the fact that your service costs $75.00 per month to prequalify the visitor before they click. Since you're paying for every click you want to make sure your visitors are interested at $75.00 before they click to your site.

2. Don't ignore misspellings of popular search terms. Most people will carefully craft the search phrases they are bidding for. Most searchers will not. Misspellings occur and can usually be bought for a very low bid.

In addition to Overture, here are some other pay-per-click engines you might want to check out:

Or get the details and reviews of more than 223 ppc search engines and tools that are available to help you at

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