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Taking the plunge in pay-per-click pool can pay off

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If you haven’t yet dipped your toes in the pool of pay-per-click search engines, you might be missing out on some excellent targeted traffic for your site. In fact, I find that PPC search engines such as GoTo.com or FindWhat.com are easier and faster to deal with than free search engines such as Google or AltaVista.

If a high search ranking is what you’re after, you don’t have to endlessly optimize your HTML and resubmit; you can simply pay for a high ranking and be done with it.

With PPC search engines you pay to have your links appear in the results for terms you choose. You basically buy your way up the ladder. If you’ve ever been to an auction, you already know how it works. The highest bidder is placed higher in the search results for any given term.

You only pay your bid if someone actually clicks your link and visits your site. Compare that with the other smoke and mirrors Net advertising options and it looks pretty good.

What is especially rewarding is the short turnaround time. You can open an account and have a Page 1 ranking for the term of your choice in the time it takes you to read this issue of BtoB. You set the amount you will pay and the total account value, and adjust key words and bids whenever you want. Choose your keywords wisely and you can get your listings in front of people who already have some interest in what you’re offering.

If you’d like to test the waters, try a PPC search engine that isn’t as big yet as the largest player, GoTo.com, which now requires a minimum bid of 5 cents per click. Take a look at FindWhat.com, which has no minimum. Do some test searches on terms that are important to you, and you can see what’s being paid for each listing in the search results. Bid on a few terms to get started, then add more as you feel comfortable. You’ll probably get more traffic from GoTo.com than the others, but bids in the newer PPC engines are also less competitive.

If you do take the PPC plunge, here’s some NetSense to consider:

Bid only on words and phrases that are truly relevant to your site. Don’t bid for the term "shoes" if your site sells hand-tooled, calfskin-tasseled loafers. You’ll just end up paying for clicks that aren’t right for you.

Beware of the bid gap. If you outbid a competing site by a cent in order to rank ahead of it, but it then drops its bid by 10 cents and you don’t know it, that’s a big bid gap you don’t need to pay for. Use a tool such as PayPerMaster.com to keep your bid gaps small.

You can edit the site title and description that’s shown in the search results to say whatever you want, so be sure and describe your site well. Essentially, the site title and description are your pitch. The goal is to entice interested people, but because you pay for every click, you don’t want to be too aggressive with your pitch and attract people who aren’t right for your site.

Here are some PPC sites and tools to help you: GoTo (www.goto.com); FindWhat (www.findwhat.com); SearchHound (www.searchhound.com); PayPerMaster (www.paypermaster.com); and EZ Position (http://did-it.com/services/ez.shtml).

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