Paid Search Advertising: Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing & Microsoft adCenter

Part 5 of Essentials Of Search Engine Submission

Every major search engine with significant market share accepts paid listings. This unique form of search engine advertising guarantees that your site will appear in the top results for the keyword terms you target within a day or less. Given this, paid listings are an option that should be explored by site owners who wish to quickly build visibility. They may also be a long-term advertising option for some. Paid search listings are also called sponsored listings and/or Pay Per Click (PPC) listings.

Google AdWords

Google sells sponsored listings that appear above and to the right-hand side of its regular search results, these listings are called Google AdWords.

Paid search programs allow site owners to "bid" on the terms they wish to appear for. You agree to pay a certain amount each time someone clicks on your listing. This is why sponsored listings are referred to as "pay-per-click" (PPC) or "cost-per-click" (CPC) advertising.

Google AdWords ranks sponsored listings based on a number of variables including the CPC (bid price), click-through-rate (CTR) and landing page quality. This page explains how ads are ranked in more detail.

If your goal is to build visibility on search engines quickly, then Google AdWords is an essential option to explore. It can put you in the top results of many major search engines within a short period of time.

Google distributes its paid ads to other partners, with some major sites listed on the Search Engine Results Chart . This provides you with exposure to more potential traffic. When setting up an AdWords campaign, you may choose to have your ads appear in the Search Network and/or Google’s Content Network (AdSense), or you may opt-out of either.

It is worthwhile for anyone to open a Google AdWords account and experiment with how paid listings may help drive traffic to a site, or use the service as a keyword research tool. Google's self-service AdWords program charges a per-click fee, in addition to a $5 activation fee, but there is no minimum monthly spend.

As you continue to participate in paid search advertising, you may find that the editorial or "free" listings generated by your submissions to directories and crawlers have kicked in. While some marketers elect to eliminate their paid search ad spend when this happens, you may find that you want to continue spending, or perhaps even increase your budget, to target terms for which you don't receive good editorial placement.

Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How Google Works page that guides you even more through the process of how AdWords operates. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

Yahoo Search Marketing

Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM), formerly Overture and GoTo, also allows sites to "bid" on the terms they wish to appear for.

Up until the recent "Panama" improvement, YSM ranked sponsored listings based on cost-per-click. For instance, if you wanted to appear in the top listings for "running shoes." You might agree to pay 25 cents per click. If no one agrees to pay more than this, then you would be in the number one spot. If someone else later decides to pay 26 cents, then you slip into the number two position. You could then bid 27 cents and move back on top, if you wanted to.

Yahoo Panama brings YSM's ranking algorithm for paid ads more in line with Google by considering additional variables such as click-through-rate and landing page quality.

If your goal is to build instant visibility on search engines, Yahoo Search Marketing is an excellent option to explore, putting you in the top results of many major search engines within a short period of time.

Again, it is well worth it for anyone to open a YSM account and experiment with paid listings. An account requires a $5 minimum deposit, and you set your own daily budget. By carefully selecting targeted terms, you can stretch that money out for one or two months and get quality traffic.

As with Google, you may wish to eliminate your ad spend or continue for terms not receiving good editorial placement once your initial deposit has expired.

Search Engine Watch members have access to a detailed How Yahoo Search Marketing Works page that guides you even more through the process of getting started with the service. To learn more about becoming a member to access this information, visit the membership information page.

Microsoft adCenter

Microsoft adCenter launched in May 2006. Like Google and Yahoo, it allows advertisers to "bid" on the keywords they wish to have their ads show up for. The system uses what is called the "black box" bid and ranking method, similar to the way Google and now Yahoo determine Cost Per Click (CPC).

The CPC is a combination of how much you are willing to bid (max bid) and your Click Thru Rate (CTR) in comparison to the others bidding for that particular keyword.

Upon launch, adCenter distinguished itself from competitors by being the first to offer geographic, demographic and daypart targeting. It requires a $5 service fee for account setup. After that, you pay the cost of the clicks.

Bidding starts at $0.10 minimum. Sometimes $0.05 bids go through. You can increase your bid to reach a targeted audience through Targeted Bidding. This allows you to target based on (1) users in a specific geographic location, (2) users searching on specific days of the week or during specific hours of the day or night, and (3) users of a specific gender or age.

While initially pleased with adCenter, marketers would like to see more traffic. The consensus is that traffic performs well and is growing but is still not at the level of other search engines.

Experienced Search Marketers also like the targeting tools. These tools allow them to narrow the ad buy, resulting in audiences that convert better, allowing marketers to put more of their budgets into other ad buys or into additional keywords with Microsoft. The help section is very detailed.

End Of The Essentials

That's it for the essentials of search engine submission. If you have followed the tips listed so far -- even only the tips described in Part 3 -- then you should be receiving traffic from search engines. However, if you "optimize" your web site, then you are likely to get even more traffic from search engines. If you have more time, keep following the "Next" buttons to learn more about search engine optimization.

Next: Intro To Search Engine Optimization
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Editors' Note: The date shown on this article reflects updates provided by Claudia Bruemmer, Internet Marketing Writer and former ClickZ Managing Editor. This article was originally published by Danny Sullivan in July of 2004.