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Paying your way to the Top

article by: Lindsey Fair

By now most people have at least heard of paid listings in search engines, and some of you may have even tried it. We were somewhat skeptical of the results that you could get by paying your way to the top at first, but now we've seen that it can work.

Let's start with the how first. We could write a book on this alone, but to keep it simple we'll only discuss 3 of the most popular options out there.

  1. Overture - Using Overture is a great one stop shop. After creating a profile, you can set up multiple listings. You can see how much everyone else has paid, and that helps you bid the right amount to be in the exact spot that you want and to keep an eye on the competition. Here is an example of what we would do using our www.marketme.ca url: 1. We would place it under the keyword of marketing and web marketing. 2. We would then check and see who else is paying and the amount per click. It takes about 3-5 business days to process and they have several ways to manage the money.

    Every time someone clicks on your listing, your account gets charged. This method is effective because you only pay for a targeted audience. My only concern, how do you know it's not the company offering the pay-per-click system just clicking on your url, or what if it's your competitors trying to make you go broke?

    Overture's paid listings feed many other search engines such as msn.com, yahoo.ca, yahoo.com, altavista.com, lycos.com and some others. So by paying your way to the top of Overture, it also puts you higher in other places too.
  2. Google Ad Words - As Google is one of the most popular search options out there, advertising on it can be very beneficial. The 2 biggest differences on Google as opposed to Overture are that going with Google only gets you placed on Google, and the other is that there's no way to trick the surfers into thinking that your listing is non-paid. Google's advertisements are marked with colour and placement, so that the surfer knows they've paid for that placement. This isn't always a bad thing though - the special markings help draw attention to your listing, you just have to convince them to click thru.

    The Google system is a lot more basic to work with, but has limited options. From our experience so far, the Google Ad Words receive about 1/3 of the click thrus that Overture does, and with even less ROI (Return on Investment).
  3. Looksmart - Looksmart is similar to Overture in that it feeds several searches. The catch: payment here does not guarantee listings, it just guarantees that someone at each of the search engines will look at your listing and determine its' listability. Personally, we've never worked with this system and have not determined a need to do so.

Why is the next question you should be asking. Will a paid listing help your business? This is very specific to each industry, each target market and your specific goals. If you sell bikes in Kingston, there's probably no one else competing for that category that you need to 'out-bid', but if you are looking into selling the bikes all over North America then a paid listing might be the way to get the word out. So, we can't give you a set answer only a guideline, but feel free to give us a call if you need to know if a paid listing will help your business.

Lindsey is the owner of Market Me