As you begin to research ways to market your
website, there are two terms you’ll be hearing a lot about,
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
SEM is simply paid advertising on search engines, and SEO
is a method of properly designing your website in a way that
can be “seen” by the search engines.
This article is exclusively about placing
paid advertisements on the internet in the form of search
results, known as Search Engine Marketing, or PPC (Pay Per
Click). For a fee, your ad will appear in front of users,
and you won’t pay anything for the ad until the user actually
clicks on the ad and goes to your website.
Most users have become immune to clicking
on the popup and banner ads, but the PPC (Pay Per Click) market
continues to grow rapidly. The reason for this is that the
PPC ads appear listed at the top of the search results on
all of the major search engines. Many end users do not even
notice the small words “sponsored link” that indicate a paid
placement in the search results.
Googles sponsored links are placed on the top
two rows in a shaded area, and also down along the right side
inside small boxes. These are obviously ads, but still can
be highly effective for driving traffic to your website. Their
program is called Google AdWords and you can read more about
it at http://adwords.google.com.
The Google AdWords results are also displayed
(as of this writing) on Lycos, HotBot, AOL, AskJeeves, Teoma,
Netscape and Iwon. The ads are also distributed on thousands
of small affiliate websites that get a small piece of the
revenue they generate for Google.
Overture/Yahoo is another PPC service. They
have their own website at http://www.overture.com
and they also distribute their results to a wide variety of
websites. As of this writing, Overture results are currently
displayed by Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, and AllTheWeb among others.
Unlike Google, most Overture ads are virtually indistinguishable
from the true or “generic” results.
There are about a dozen other minor players
in the PPC search engine business, but between Google and
Overture, you’re covering nearly 90% of the market. In my
experience the others are a waste of time and not worth the
extra effort to manage, but the landscape can change.
The way Google and Overtures PPC services work
is very similar. By “bidding” on the keywords and phrases
you want, your ad appears in the results. As long as you’re
willing to pay more than the next guy, then your ad will appear
above his. If you get outbid, then his ad moves above yours.
It’s really that simple. That doesn’t mean you can have your
auto body shop come up number one for the search term “yellow
banana”, but as long as your business is relevant to the search
term, then it’s fairly easy to be number one.
Both Overture and Google enforce certain relevancy
standards that demand a certain “CTR” or (Click Through Rate)
to keep the paid search results relevant to the searched for
phrase, otherwise people would stop using their search engines.
Over the past two years the use of PPC advertising
on the internet has risen dramatically. Obviously, as more
people catch on to the PPC advertising methods, prices will
go up and it will no longer be cost effective for certain
businesses. Until then however, there’s a huge window of opportunity
to get your business in the top of the search results for
very little money, and if I were you, I’d get in before the
window slams shut.