Pay to click

Monday, July 31, 2006

Q. Are paid/sponsored search engine rankings cost effective for marketing my Web site?

A. Yes, if performed correctly. Paid rankings are purchased through a bidding process similar to eBay and appear under the "sponsored listings" section. In short, the more you are willing to pay each time someone clicks on your site, the higher your site will be listed. There are two key aspects to keep in mind when developing a successful paid search engine ranking campaign:
- Key phrase choice is imperative, and it is essential to choose non-traditional words. Common phrases are typically too high priced for the average site owner due to the number of people bidding on the words. Common phrases can also result in unneeded charges if people click on your site when they're searching for a phrase under a topic unrelated to your site. For example, let's look at the word oxygen. While it may be appealing for a provider to bid on that phrase, it would be expensive. Many people are bidding on that word, increasing the cost per click. Keep in mind the term oxygen not only relates to the HME industry; it also is common in welding, chemistry, etc. In a pay-per-click system, you pay for each click, including those searching for welding oxygen. Phrases such as "traveling oxygen supplier" or "medical oxygen tanks" would be more appropriate.
- Placement choice is also imperative. While most site owners would prefer to bid on first place, you can normally get third or fourth place for far less than half the price. Third and fourth place usually show up at the bottom of the search page under the sponsored listings as well. Bidding on a lower placement allows you to bid on multiple phrases for about the same price as first place, resulting in more visitors to your Web site. Keep in mind you only pay if someone clicks on your Web site. Bidding on multiple low placement phrases can get you the most for your money.


Jeremy Kauten is general manager of VGM Forbin. Reach him at 319-235-7100 or