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Pay Per Click Marketing 2003
by André le Roux
Dec. 2002

Traffic costs money.

If you hire an SEO – that costs money.
If you optimize your own site, it costs time – which is money.

So you might as well pay a search engine to send you traffic. But that makes it sound deceptively simple. In my experience, effective pay-per-click marketing is a fairly involved and time-consuming process.

How Pay Per Click Marketing Works

On a pay per click engine, you bid for placement on your selected keywords. Let’s say I want to be number 1 for the keyword “search engine book” at the pay-per-click (PPC) engine Overture. Step one is to do a search for “search engine book” and look at the top bid – let’s say 15 cents in this case. The owner of that bid pays Overture 15 cents every time someone clicks that link. If I’m willing to pay 16 cents for each click (each visitor to my site), my listing moves into the number 1 slot. The previous number one drops to number 2 and so on.

Do You Need Pay Per Click Marketing?

Yes, you probably do…

If it costs you 10 cents per visitor, you sell a $100 gizmo and 1 in every 100 visitors buys your gizmo, you’re paying $10 per sale.

The real question is:

How much of your marketing dollars should you spend on pay per click marketing? With SEO the reward for your effort is long-term. With PPC marketing, your stream of visitors dry up as soon as your budget is depleted.

Lets consider that $10 per sale again and compare it to regular SEO. To make the math easy (for me), let’s say you pay $1000 to have your site optimized. Your SEO provider is in a good mood and let’s you pay in 100 installments of $10. Each time you make a sale you pay a $10 installment and from sale #101 onwards you use that $10 per sale to buy colorful balloons for the office (or whatever). You now own that source of traffic. Pay per click marketing on the other hand is like leasing traffic. You keep paying $10 per sale for as long as you want traffic.

Of course, pay per click marketing has its benefits:

1. Speed and
2. Predictability

With a pay per click marketing campaign you can get visitors to your site within a day or two – compared to a waiting period of 1 to 6 months with SEO. As for predictability, you get exactly what you pay for – without having to hope the search engine doesn’t change its algorithm.

For most sites I’d recommend a combination of pay per click marketing and SEO. If you can only afford one, go with SEO.

Pay Per Click Search Engines

Overture is very far ahead of the rest. You should start there and experiment with other pay per click search engines only if the model works for you. Google’s AdWords is also a program for advertisements off to the side of the regular results. That should be your second stop.

Be warned though that many smaller pay per click search engines are springing up everywhere. They try to emulate Overture’s success, fail and disappear. Also, their bidding systems often seem a bit messy if you’re used to Overture.

The Difference Between Pay Per Click And "Paid Inclusion"

With pay-per-click marketing, you pay a small fee every time someone clicks through to your site. You decide how much to pay per click by bidding on keywords. With paid inclusion, you pay a fee to have your site indexed. It's usually a recurring fee. In return, the search engine guarantees that your site will be indexed and stay indexed for the agreed period of time or that a review of your site will happen in a timely fashion.

With paid inclusion there's no guarantee that your site will rank well. That's still down to search engine optimization.

Further Reading On Pay Per Click Marketing
The most comprehensive site on PPC search engines – by far.

Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Strategies
by Kurt Thumlert

Making the Most of Pay-per-Click Programs

Profit from Pay-Per-Click Programs
by Kevin Nunley

Pay Per Click Marketing 2002
by André le Roux
Dec. 2001

Pay Per Click Marketing

NOTE: For a more recent overview of pay per click marketing, please refer to the current version of the Search Engine Yearbook.

What Pay Per Click Search Engines Are

On a pay per click engine, you bid for keywords. Let's say I want to be number 1 for the keyword "search engine book" at the pay-per-click engine Overture. Step one is to do a search for "search engine book" and look at the top bid. It's usually only a couple of cents. Let's say 4 cents in this case.

That means that he's paying Overture 4 cents each time a visitor clicks on his link. If I'm willing to pay 5 cents for each visitor to my site, I bid 5 cents for "search engine book" and my site is listed in the # 1 spot for that search phrase

Doing The Math On Your Pay Per Click Marketing

Before you bid on keywords, do the math.

Here's how:

Analyze your log files. See how many unique visitors you had during the previous month (not page views or hits - only unique visitors). Now, how much money did you make last month?

Right. Divide total dollar sales by total unique visitors. We want to know what you make per visitor.

Let's say you make 20 cents per visitor. That means you shouldn't pay more than 19 cents per visitor, probably 15.

Anywhere In The Top 5 - Maybe Top 10

Many webmasters make the mistake of going for the top position every time. That's not necessary.

Do you look only at the first site when you search? I don't. I usually look at the first 3 sites. If nothing there interests me, I'll look all the way down to # 10.

Getting The Click

With a great, benefit-rich site description - not just a # 1 listing. But with pay-per-click marketing, your description is not about getting as many clicks as possible. Its first function should be to sift. You want to weed out people who are unlikely to buy anything from you. One very effective way is to display your price right in the description.

Don't use hype. Remember you are paying for that click, so you want clicks from people who really want what you have. People who are likely to buy what you offer. If they don't spend money on your site, they are reducing the effectiveness of your pay per click marketing campaign. They are costing you money.

There are 2 things here that you have to succeed at:

1. You have to get the right clicks
2. You have to get them to spend money on your site

This might be obvious, but it's not easy.

There's a book in my collection that shows exactly how to write sales copy for the Internet. It's called "Make Your Words Sell" by Joe Robson. I don't remember exactly what I paid. About $20 I think. It's definitely worth it.

Study this book. If you do, your magnetic site pay per click descriptions will pull in more traffic - even if you're number 3 - and your improved sales copy on your site will turn more visitors into customers.

Further Reading On Pay-Per-Click Marketing

Make Your Words Sell
Highly recommended. It'll save you a lot more than it costs.
Probably the most comprehensive site on the topic.

Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Strategies
Kurt Thumlert

Making the Most of Pay-per-Click Programs

Profit from Pay-Per-Click Programs
by Kevin Nunley


Search Engine Book: Search Engine Year BookThis page is based on information contained in the Search Engine Yearbook 2003. For more detailed search engine information & help, please refer to the current version of the book.

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