Feature Article (Pub: May 05) Where to spend your pay-per-click budget by Paul Rudman

Ok, so you have heard all about pay-per-click marketing, you know that you only pay for the traffic you receive and if you plan carefully you can get a lot of very relevant and targeted traffic for a relatively small cost.

But how do you know where you should spend your money? Should you go with a Google Adword campaign? What about Espotting or Overture? maybe Mirago or Looksmart? There is a plethora of options available to you, and if you don't have sufficient budget to invest in every pay-per-click option on the market then here are a few tips to help you decide how and where to focus your budget.

Google Adwords

Google is renowned as the biggest and the best search engine, it's certainly the most popular. Google Adwords is the pay-per-click offering whereby you select the phrases most relevant to your website, choose your ceiling bids and away you go.

Strengths

  • If you have very niche phrases then Google Adwords is for you. Because Google is the most popular engine, you can target several very niche phrases and still make it worth the time and effort to set-up and run.
  • The ability to set-up both a maximum ceiling bid on a phrase and a daily limit means you have total control over how your budget is spent.
  • Comprehensive reporting which is easy to use
  • The ability to run multiple campaigns from the same log-in, you can run several campaigns on the same site, or across different websites
  • Adwords is the only pay-per-click offering where placement is determined by both the bid but also by the popularity of the advert, so if your ad gets a high exposure to click ratio then you can get appear higher in the results without having to bid more.
  • No minimum daily or monthly budget.

Weaknesses

  • Can be the most expensive pay-per-click offering because of the sheer popularity of it, so you are bidding against more companies than the other pay-per-click engines.

Overture

The longest established of the pay-per-click companies, Overture search results are embedded in other search engines such as Yahoo and also within various very popular portals and ISP's across the net.

Strengths

  • Because it is slightly less popular than Google, the top bid for various keywords can be cheaper and so you get more traffic for your money
  • Very transparent bidding process, you get comprehensive tools to help you select phrases based on past search engine user profiling, and have complete transparency over what other companies are bidding on a phrase which will help you determine the best phrases for your budget.

Weaknesses

  • There is a minimum monthly budget and if you fail to reach that minimum in terms of clicks to your site you effectively get docked £20 from your account, so if you have very niche phrases that do not generate many exposures then be aware of this fact.
  • There is a maximum 5 day turnaround on the setting up and approval of your campaign because all changes are manually reviewed for approval.
  • Sometimes a strength, sometimes a weakness is the manual approval process. It does help maintain the quality of the listings but sometimes your listings will be declined, sometimes with very limited information as to why.

Espotting

Espotting are similar to Overture in that they embed their search results in other popular sites rather than encourage users to visit their own site and search from there.

Strengths

  • As Espotting is still less popular than Overture and Google, you can pick up "bargain" keywords at a lower cost per click than with Overture and Google.
  • very good, intuitive interface for controlling your keyword bidding

Weaknesses

  • Not recommended for very niche phrases because of the lack of popularity compared to Google and Overture.
  • Way behind Google and Overture in technological terms, so the system can seem basic and unwieldy at times

Mirago

The newest pay-per-click engine on the scene, Mirago are a UK-based pay-per-click engine with embedded search results in popular sites on the net.

Strengths

  • By far the least used pay-per-click engine, so all keywords are a lot cheaper and less competitive than on the other engines.
  • Mirago results seem to be crawled by search engines when embedded in websites, a strange quirk of this is that your website gets far more backward, inbound links as a result of these search results being crawled with your website listed.

Weaknesses

  • By far the smallest of the pay-per-click engines has its downside, the entire system is very basic and not user-friendly.
  • As Mirago results get the lowest exposures of the pay-per-click engines do not expect the volume of traffic you can expect from a well thought out Google Adword campaign.

Conclusions

So, as you can see above there are positives and negatives with all the pay-per-click engines. I hope the tips help you choose where to spend your pay-per-click budget.


Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at CommerceTuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.

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A key element to ensuring that our business grew to its maximum potential, required good search engine exposure, across a number of different "key search words". Having launched our site, we found it near impossible to obtain a high ranking in any of the major search engines, and had to rely on pay per clicks. ... Read more...