Can you explain Pay-per-Click Search Engines?

Pay Per Click search engines are becoming very more common and are a great way to market websites. If you want to ensure your site appears at the top of the list for a particular search term, this is the only way to guarantee that placement.  

The way these search engines work (and how they got their name) is that you bid on the keywords that you want your site to appear under. Every time someone searches for a keyword you have bid on, and then clicks on your link, your account is charged the amount of your bid.  Let’s say that you make and sell wallets made from deerskin, and you want your site to appear number one when "deerskin wallets" are searched for. So you go to one of the Pay Per Click search engines and search for "deerskin wallets". You see the number one listing is currently paying 6 cents. In order for your site to appear number one, you would need to bid 7 cents. Of course your competition could come in and bid 8 cents and then you bid 9 cents and so on.

One concern clients have is that their competition could go and click on their link and use up the money in your account quickly. This is a possibility, however, at 5 cents it would take 1,000 clicks to amount to $50.00. If your competition has enough time to sit and click on your listing 1,000 times, I don’t think they will be your competition for long.  

To get the most from a Pay Per Click search engines, choose specific keywords. For example. You own a real estate firm and only service clients in Appleton, Wisconsin. You would not purchase the keyword "realtor", you would instead use "realtor appleton" or "realtor fox cities".   

Before opening an account with a Pay Per Click search engine, read their advertising agreement. You should only be charged for click throughs (people actually visiting your site) and you should have control over the bid amount and how often it is updated. I recommend that you retain control over when money is deposited into your account. If you agree to always be listed number one, it could get very expensive. You will want to track your visitors to be sure paying for keywords is working for you. A good way to test this is to buy keywords for two months. Then let the account lapse for a month. Then open it again. Did you see any difference in your traffic or sales?

September 1, 2001

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