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Paid Search Overview

Search engine optimization (SEO) can get you noticed, but sometimes you need to go the extra mile to separate yourself from your competition. Optimizing your site for natural searches — implementing keywords and organizing your content in a way that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to find your site — can increase the chances of shoppers typing the name of a product they're looking for and getting a link to your site on the results page. One issue is that if you sell a popular product — like athletic shoes or CDs — it’s tough to be among the top results listed when shoppers start browsing on search engines.

Paid searches can provide a shortcut around search engine clutter and bring more visitors to your site. By paying for placement on search engine results pages, you can almost guarantee that potential customers will find you more easily, and, hopefully, buy more products from you online.


Paid search is an online advertising program that lets you bid on specific keywords or phrases so that when a user searches for information on a particular topic on a search engine, they see your ad. Paid search results are often displayed as “Sponsor Results” or “Sponsored Links” on a results page and usually placed in a section of the page that is made to stand out with either different colors or enhanced text. When a user clicks on the ad, you’re charged a nominal fee for the referral — prices start at around $0.10 a click, but average over $0.40 per click.
Paid searches can be a powerful, effective way for small business owners to generate more traffic to their web sites. The process is helping many site owners increase their online presence in a relatively short amount of time.

Getting Started
To begin the paid search process, visit the popular search engine sites — Yahoo!, Google, etc. Each has its own system to facilitate the process. You’ll be asked for information about your company, a written description of your site, and the keywords you think you should be listed under. The process can take as little as a few hours to complete. Follow these steps to get started:

Register your site: First, use your credit card to create an account with a paid search system such as Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) or Google’s AdWords.
Create your ad: For best results, the ad should have the actual search term near the beginning, then perhaps a special offer or feature, the company name, and a link to the page on your site that you want customers to visit. For example, if your site sells athletic shoes, your ad could say something like, “Purchase basketball shoes, running shoes, or footwear for every sport, in any size.” Some paid search networks offer advertisement creation services to handle this for you, or you can design your own ads or hire someone to create them for you. Each ad is associated with a particular keyword and displayed beneath a link to your site on a search results page.

Choose keywords: Each ad’s title and text should include the keywords for which your target customers are most likely to search. For instance, if you sell computer components, you may want to add keywords such as drives, motherboards, memory, etc., to the ad. Fortunately, with research and tools like Yahoo! Search Marketing Keyword Selector Tool, you easily can determine the most common keywords. Be as specific as possible. For example, using the keywords “business supplies” may not help customers find your computer components because they are not typing in those particular keywords.
How It Works — Bidding for Placement
Bidding on keywords is one of the most important steps in the paid search process. Your bid helps determine your advertisement’s positioning in search results. In most instances, paid search networks rank you based on how much you pay. For example, if you want your ad to be displayed when someone searches for computer drives, you may be willing to pay a dollar every time someone clicks on your ad. If no one else is willing to pay more for the same keywords, Yahoo! Search Marketing will place your ad at the top of a user’s results. You also can see how much others are willing to bid, which helps you determine how much you want to bid.

Some networks like Google’s AdWords base advertisement positioning on bid price, but also factor in the current or past click-through rate. As a result, with AdWords, you may bid more for a specific keyword, but because your advertisement has had a low click-through rate in the past, it may still appear with less frequency than an ad placed by a lower bidder with a higher click-through rate.


Most online shoppers turn to search engines when looking for a specific product or service. Paying to have your ads listed in search engine results — paid search advertising — is a great way to gain exposure on the Web. Companies that are new to the process should take time upfront to understand how much they are willing and able to spend on paid search to ensure they get the results they are looking for. Bidding for the right keywords is one of the most important parts of the paid search advertising process and can help make sure that your site gets in front of the right people.
While on the surface many of the paid search options appear the same, their differences are distinct. Do not hesitate to contact the companies with questions and make sure you are comfortable with the answers before proceeding.
Paid searches are a fast, efficient way to generate more traffic to your web site. They also ensure that your marketing efforts will provide results, whereas basic SEO techniques may not. With paid search, your listing will stay near the top of a results page for as long as you’re willing to pay the required fees. Taking the time to complete this process, and also spending a little extra money, helps ensure your online success in the long run