|WHO'S PROVIDING YOUR
by: Cary Christian
As most of you know, we do a lot of testing here at the SBC, and we've run
across something we think you ought to know about. Before we get to the guts
of it though, let's review a few things.
The use of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search engines has grown tremendously in
importance for small businesses. They allow you to compete against anyone,
even corporate giants, for a top search engine position for any keyword you
choose. If you want it badly enough and can afford it, it's yours.
We believe all of you should be using PPC engines to generate traffic. They
represent a terrific way to get highly targeted, pre-qualified traffic. But
which PPC search engines should you use?
The largest is, of course, Overture. If you bid into a top 3 listing, known
as a "premium" listing, for a keyword, your listing will be served out to a
tremendous number of "normal" search engines, including most of the "big"
ones, and this can mean lots of additional traffic for you.
The downside to Overture is that it is getting quite expensive to buy top
positions in many common keywords. So expensive, in fact, that we're
beginning to wonder if a lot of these businesses know how to calculate
return on investment!
Then you have FindWhat. No, it's not as big as Overture and your top
listings won't be served out to as many other large search engines, but they
have many excellent partnerships in place and you will get plenty of
excellent traffic. In fact, we have seen even better results using FindWhat
than Overture. In our opinion, FindWhat is a strong second behind Overture
in terms of potential reach but first in terms of value. Sprinks, Kanoodle,
Ah-ha, 7Search and several others round out the group generally considered
to be the top tier among PPC engines.
Then we get to the rest. There are literally hundreds of small engines that
have popped up and are really struggling to attract advertisers . . . and
searchers, for that matter.
These smaller engines will offer you tremendous amounts of bonus advertising
to get your business, often matching whatever you decide to invest. However,
there is a very good reason for this.
These engines have very little search traffic and not enough quality
listings to make them very useful to people who are searching. That's why
they want your listing so badly. If they can't get you to advertise, they
can't improve their offerings to searchers. So they'll give you lots of free
advertising to get your business.
You might be able to use some of these deals to your advantage and actually
get some decent traffic from these engines. It is certainly an inexpensive
proposition to find out.
But here's the problem: many of these engines are purchasing guaranteed hits
to increase the number of people searching! Think about that for a minute.
You're using a PPC engine to get targeted, pre-qualified traffic to your
site. The hits produced by purchasing guaranteed hits are neither.
Most of these hits will come from paid to read email companies. For example,
CompDough sends out PTR emails to its members and each email will contain
one or more search links. The member clicks the link and is taken to the
search engine where they are told they need to make a valid search and
remain on the site for 30 seconds to get paid.
Well, unless you are very lucky, the PTR email member who visits your site
is there only to get paid. He or she is not online actively searching for
something they need or want and they generally could care less which
category they click on. Therefore, they are not targeted and
pre-qualification becomes meaningless. You're paying for garbage hits you
could get for free using a traffic exchange.
When you sign up for one of these PPC engines you're not going to see a
notice on the site that the engine is purchasing guaranteed hits. I assure
you they don't want you to know and it can be very difficult to find out.
Some of the really new engines are purchasing guaranteed hits directly. The
problem is, you're probably not going to know about it unless you
participate in PTR email programs.
If you believe you can avoid this problem by avoiding the really small ones,
we have bad news for you. You really have to look at the relationships
between these smaller engines and some of their larger counterparts.
Remember I said earlier that if you get a premium position for a keyword on
Overture that you'll get exposure from most of the major "normal" search
engines? This is because Overture has entered into agreements to supply
search results for these engines.
Similarly, the smaller engines we're discussing enter into agreements with
some of their larger counterparts to increase their hits.
For example, company Z is a very small PPC engine and it enters into an
agreement with company A, a larger PPC engine, whereby A will supply hits to
people searching on Z. Z also purchases guaranteed hits to beef up their hit
statistics. The result?
If you're advertising on A, you're likely to end up getting some of the
guaranteed hits traffic from Z. So even if A never purchases guaranteed
hits, you'll still get some of this garbage traffic because of the
relationship A has with Z.
These relationships are not secret. Take a look at the page
This is a listing of the major partners of some of the larger PPC engines.
This listing is not exhaustive but it does help identify a middle tier group
of search engines that should be safe for your advertising needs.
If you're looking at any of the smaller engines, we highly recommend you do
some research to find out who their partners are. Email their support group
and ask if they purchase guaranteed hits if you have to.
Always remember, partnerships are good. They only become a problem when the
partnership causes you to pay for guaranteed hits when you think you're
buying targeted PPC traffic.
Copyright (c) 2002