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Why I Don't Want a #1 Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Listing

By Dan B. Cauthron
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2004

Pay-per-click search engines are backward.
- Your site is listed in the search results according to pertinent keywords and key phrases, but those have nothing to do with the rank or position of your listing.

- Anyone who has the bidding power can effectively buy themselves a #1 position, but that may not be the position that earns the best bottom-line profit over the long haul.

- Conventional ad writing wisdom is often blown to the wind. In fact, you may be better off to clearly post your price in your listing.

Pay-per-click is the ultimate concept in advertising cost control. For each keyword or key phrase that relates to your offer, you determine how much you are willing to spend/bid for each click-through your site receives. The higher you bid on any particular keyword/phrase, the higher your listing will appear in the search results.

From a marketing standpoint that's wonderful, as searchers who will view your listings will also be more likely to have a valid interest in your business and your offerings. Pay-per-click search results are, at least from the better engines, more specific and more targeted than those from conventional search engines like Google and Yahoo.

But recently we've heard pay-per-click advertising being referred to as 'fool proof' and 'risk free.' Sorry dear reader. That is far from the truth.

Before jumping into deep water with both feet, we advise that you do your homework, and arm yourself with some facts. An unchristened foray into PPC advertising can quickly become a budget-busting money-sucking nightmare.

In fact, some aspects of pay-per-click advertising seem backward, paradoxical, almost contrarian in nature. They appear to fly in the face of the principles that we know work well in other advertising venues. Just keep in mind that things are not always as they seem. Regarde vous!

Where's the Best Position?
An almost automatic response to that question is likely to be, 'Number One, of course.' That's because we're programmed from childhood to believe that winners are the ones that occupy the top of the heap. Not necessarily true in PPC search engine advertising.

Consider this scenario. You're holding a #1 listing under search results for a particular keyword. Your offer beats the heck out of all your competitors only a few lines away. Your price is right, your incentives to buy are great, and you're locked and loaded for business.

Jane Searcher lands on your listing and clicks through to your page. You pay for that click out of your bidding fund. Now, Jane likes what she sees behind your #1 listing, but she continues clicking on down the page to peruse competitive offers, hoping she will find a better deal.

Ultimately, Jane decides that your competitors don't hold a candle to what you're offering. She returns to your listing and places an order. GREAT . . . except that you've just paid for two clicks to get one sale. That will eat your lunch fast, when you're bidding high to maintain that #1 position.

If your listing had been in position #3 or #4, Jane would have most likely viewed your competitors' offers first, before coming to yours, clicking once, and making a buying decision on the spot.

Include Your Price In Your Listing
WHAT? We can't do that! We're supposed to gently and persuasively lead the prospect into making that all important buying decision, not slam her with a price up front. Don't we have to spend a minimum of several hundred carefully crafted words in convincing her of benefits and features before we even begin to ask for money!

Maybe not. Again, it's contrary but true. Your price, clearly stated in your listing, will help to weed out curiosity-clickers and freebie-seekers, thus reducing your cost per sale. Searchers who click through to your website will know from the start that there is going to be a purchase involved. The question here is, do you want clicks from qualified buyers, or from penniless surf geeks?

Bid Lower . . . Not Higher
On a case by case basis of course, it might be in your best interest to bid lower on a particular keyword/phrase and accept a lower position for your listing. Keep in mind that one of the primary keys to success with pay-per-click search engine listings lies in carefully managing your cost.

It does you no good to get 2 fast sales per 100 clicks from a 50 cent listing, when you might just as easily get those two sales from 100 clicks to a 25 cent listing. Granted, it may take longer for those sales to occur from a lower ranked 25 cent listing. Your patience and optimism may be tried sorely while you wait. But hopefully, your goal is a solid and methodical bottom-line profit, and not the thrill of the sale at any cost. That goes hand-in-hand with compulsive gambling.

Pay special attention to the bid patterns on any page of search results. Often there is a point in the listings where the bids drop off dramatically, and reasonably good positions are available for a relatively cheap bid. If the drop-off point is still within the top ten, or even on the same page with the top ten listings, that may be the place to stake your claim.

Study, calculate, be patient, and make sales.

About The Author
Dan B. Cauthron offers original marketing insights and a 7-Volume eMarketing Library to all new subscribers. Join his list by visiting or send your name with the words 'subscribe me' in the subject bar Dan's original articles are available for reprint from this autoresponder.


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