How to Get Immediate, Top Placement With Search Engines: A Pay-Per-Click Overview

2003 Viki Nygaard

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Of all forms of Internet marketing, search engines have been proven as one of the most effective methods of driving traffic to your site. Not just hits, but qualified visitors that actually buy. Why? Because people searching the Internet often already have something in mind to purchase, and are looking for the right site to buy from. Hopefully, that site will be yours.

Gaining high rankings on search engines used to require the optimization of your site. But optimizing your Web site can take a tremendous amount of time, knowledge and money. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on search engine optimization, and then having to wait months to see the results, you can use pay-per-click search engines to instantly drive targeted traffic to your site.

Pay-per-click search engines follow a simple strategy.

1. You choose the keywords that you want your site to have a high ranking with.

2. You then choose the amount that you are willing to pay each time someone clicks on your listing.

Let's take a look at three of the top pay-per-click search engines and discover how they work.


Overture was one of the first search engines to implement a pay-per-click strategy in their search results. One of the biggest advantages of Overture is that your listing will also appear in the search results of their partners' sites, which include major search engines such as MSN, Yahoo, Infospace, Lycos, AltaVista and Netscape.

To get started, you can use either their Fast Track or Self Serve plan. The Fast Track plan is a little more expensive, but it provides you with professional help in choosing your keywords, cost-per-click, and more. It also provides you with a turn-around time of approximately three days.

In contrast, the Self Serve plan has no service fee, and you choose your own keywords and prices. Turn around time is five days.

Regardless of which route you choose to take, there is an initial non-refundable deposit that is applied to your clicks. A minimum monthly budget is also required, as well as a minimum cost-per-click.

Overture has a helpful keyword suggestion tool. Start out by typing in a word or phrase that pertains to your products or services. The search tool will provide you with a listing of related search terms and the amount of times they were searched for in Overture during the prior month. This tool will help you discover which words and phrases are most popular. For best results, choose keyphrases (two or three word descriptions of your product/service) rather than single keywords. For example, you might select "Internet marketing tips" instead of just "marketing." Be sure to choose keyphrases from the list that are used frequently.

Google AdWords

Google itself is not a pay-per-click search engine, but does features a pay-per-click advertising program called Google AdWords. AdWords allows you to purchase a sponsored listing. The listings show up on the same page as other Google search results, but appear in highlighted boxes to give them more attention. One major advantage of AdWords is that your ads start immediately; there is no three- to five-day waiting period as there is with Overture.

Startup cost with Google is minimal and there is no minimum monthly budget. You have unlimited free access to your account which allows you complete control over your ads, keywords and budget. You can choose whether or not you want your listing to show up on their partner sites, which include AOL, Earthlink and Sympatico, as well as which countries and languages you want to target.

Your ad's position depends on two factors - cost-per-click and click-through-rate. The higher your click-through-rate, the less you'll have to pay for a top position. Try running several ads at the same time to discover which words pull in the most clicks.

Google also has a keyword suggestion tool. While this one doesn't tell you how many searches were done for a particular keyword, it does provide you with a comprehensive list of keywords that will trigger your ad to show up. This easily allows you to choose more specific and relevant keywords for your advertising campaign. It also suggests commonly used synonyms for your keyword.


Looksmart recently jumped on the pay-per-click bandwagon. However, they take a different approach. With Looksmart, all participants pay the exact same amount per click. Your position or ranking depends on how well you write your title and description.

The biggest advantage of getting listed with Looksmart is that their results are fed to other major search engines such as MSN,, AltaVista, Netscape, and more.

Looksmart does charge a non-refundable startup fee and also requires a deposit to activate your account. Choosing keywords with Looksmart does not necessarily mean that your site will receive a ranking with those keywords. It can also take five days or more for your listing to be activated, and all listings are subject to editorial review and approval. Looksmart also charges a fee if you want to change your listing in the future.

As you can see, not all pay-per-click engines are the same. However, each will provide you with excellent opportunities to drive qualified visitors to your site. Whether using Overture, Google, or Looksmart, the keys to successful pay-per-click marketing are to thoroughly read the guidelines and tips, experiment with keywords/phrases, and to write good titles, descriptions and ads. With a little effort, you can have your site listed in the top positions and bringing in traffic in no time at all!

Viki Nygaard is President of Mount Evans Designs specializing in professional Web design. For those businesses who insist on quality but must maintain a budget, visit today. You'll be thrilled with the exceptional designs and the affordable rates!