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Types of Pay-Per-Click Search Engines and Their Pros and Cons

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In this article we present you with a systematic analysis of the different types of search engines available and provide you with reviews to help you decide where to spend your pay-per-click ad dollars.

The reviews are meant to be a starting point. We will cover the major characteristics and backgrounds of different search engines, some pros and cons associated with each one, the costs involved, and how highly rated specific search engines are via their Alexa ranking (a service that tracks websites and ranks them according to reach, traffic, and other factors).

Keep in mind your own particular goals as you look through the various pay-per-click search engine options available to you.

If you know which features are most important to your marketing goals, be it a standard, simple PPC campaign, or an ad program for products that only a niche audience would be interested in, it will be easier to narrow down the list of search engines that might fit your needs.

Using the information we provide in these short reviews should help you to narrow your choices.

The next step is to visit the search engines themselves and fully investigate all the parameters.

In this way, you can make the wisest possible choice the first time, bypassing experimentation that has led to many users wasting precious ad dollars by approaching the situation without the knowledge necessary to make the best decision.

In addition to reviews of a number of pay-per-click search engines, we’ll also investigate comparison shopping sites and the other markets just being established for other types of paid programs, such as pay-per-call advertising.

The Top Ten Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
The following 10 search engines are generally considered to be the best choices for pay-per-click advertising, in terms of effectiveness.

The price of an ad campaign on any of these search engines can vary greatly, depending on your individual requirements.

Each search engine will be briefly reviewed, with some detail provided on the operation of the search engine and its partnerships, the costs involved, and the pros and cons of using each search engine.

Special product offerings will also be included, and information concerning minimum bids and deposit amounts will be listed.

1. Google
Over the last seven years, Google has grown from a two-man operation to what is arguably the largest and currently most popular search engine on the Internet, with 8 billion web pages in its network and a reach of close to 80% of online traffic.

The clean interface and its innovative access to products currently in development appeal to the majority of users.

An AdWords campaign is very straightforward to open, with a step-by-step classic PPC approach, but you do have to choose between three options related to the degree of keyword match.

Local targeting is offered, and their alliances with yellow page entities, such as Bell South, show a commitment to local search.

The Google paid ad display is the industry standard. Your ad appears along the right side of the search results page, or within content pages if you have content search turned on.

Ranking within the paid results depends on a combination of your bid position, how popular your site is, and the relevancy of its content.

The Google partnership network (on which your PPC ad may also appear after editorial review) includes entities such as America Online, Netscape, Shopping.com, EarthLink, Ask Jeeves, AT&T WorldNet, and CompuServe, among others.

Content partners include About.com, The New York Times, Lycos, The Weather Channel, iVillage, and HGTV.

Pros: - Conversion tracking and click fraud prevention provided.

-  Searchable support database and extensive collection of FAQs answer  almost any question imaginable.

-  Ad shows up on Google minutes after application submitted.

Cons: - If your impression rate climbs too high relevant to clicks, your account    will be automatically disabled, so you must check the Keyword Status of    your account frequently.

- Does not allow multiple accounts.

Minimum Deposit – $5 USD
Minimum Bid Price -5 cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none specified
Alexa Ranking 3 (as of 05/2005)

2. Yahoo Search Marketing
Yahoo Search Marketing Solutions was founded in 1997 as GoTo.com. It was rebranded to Overture and became a subsidiary of Yahoo in October 2003.

In May 2005, Yahoo announced that it would be renaming the Overture brand to Yahoo Search marketing Solutions.

Offerings continue to be the same, but the previously separate Overture and Yahoo operations are now combined as one.

The PPC offering called Precision Match has been renamed as Sponsored Search Listings.

The other Yahoo Search Marketing programs, such as Content Match and Local Match, are now offered separately.

Sponsored Search Listings tends to have higher keyword pricing than Google, and it can take up to five business days for your ads to appear on the network (unless you opt for the $199 FastTrack service).

Like Google, Yahoo Search Marketing provides a number of tools to help you with your ad-Keyword Selector Tool, View Bids Tool, ROI and CPM Calculators, as well as a click fraud system with both automatic and human intervention.

The Yahoo Search Marketing partnership network includes AltaVista, MSN, Excite, InfoSpace, Sympatico, GoToNet, CNN, and CoolSavings, as well as sonic smaller entities.

If you place an ad with Content Match, the partnership network expands significantly, to include major content sites such as ESPN, The Wall Street journal, and National Geographic.

Pros: - Allows multiple accounts.

-  Nice budgeting feature that automatically spaces out your keyword  spending, per your instructions throughout the month.

Cons: - Different levels of service provided within the ITC program, depending    upon how much you spend per year.

-  Will remove poor-performing ads not reaching the required score on their  Click Index unless you alter your ad to improve its score.

Minimum Deposit – $30 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 10 Cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – $20 USD
Alexa Ranking – 1 (as of 05/2005)

3. ePilot
ePilot is the pay-per-click search engine arm of Interchange Corporation. It debuted in 1999.

By concentrating on a user-friendly interface, ePilot has been able to attract and solidify numerous partnerships with other search engines, such as LookSmart, FindWhat, 24/7 Real Media, and Enhance Interactive.

Thus, it has expanded its reach significantly within a short period. By 2003 it had added other partners, such as Ask Jeeves, Business.com, and Search 123, and completely revamped its website.

In March of 2004, ePilot announced the launch of the Local Direct search and advertising platform, allowing businesses to target local customers with paid campaigns and at the same time giving users the ability to search locally for the product/service they are seeking.

In May 2004, Interchange and YellowPages.com joined forces in a private-label partnership designed to enable YellowPages.com to offer cost-per-click advertising services to businesses via Local Direct.

Pros: - Very professional look and feel. Interchange has invested a lot in ePilot,    particularity, via its new Local Direct search and advertising platform.

-  Local Direct delivers very quick search results using language that comes  naturally to the average user (Keyword DNA).

-  Partnership list includes more than 290 search engines and websites,  including large properties, and more than 300,000 advertisers, for a  relatively large market reach.

-  Click fraud detection system and relevancy screening.

-  Keyword bidding tool shows you the top 5 competitors.

Cons: - Minimum bid price of 7 cents for a keyword to be distributed throughout    the network.

-  No automatic bidding tool available.

-  Local Direct only incorporates local results from the U.S.

Minimum Deposit – $100 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 7 cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount none
Alexa Ranking 2,424 (as of 05/2006)

4. Search feed (www.ppcbook.info/searchfeed)
New Jersey-based Searchfeed first began operations in November of 2000. It relies on a technique of personally and thoroughly researching any potential web advertiser and providing assistance and software tools to help each advertiser target the most relevant traffic for their site.

More than 8,000 websites are currently integrated with Searchfeed and they estimate traffic of more than 360 million searches each month.

Searchfeed claims to have more than 20 million unique keywords available. With a starting bid of 1 cent for many of those keywords.

Searchfeed has built a reputation as a solid base from which to run an effective marketing campaign, especially for smaller businesses.

Searchfeed has geo-targeting available, where you can specify in which countries you would like your ad to appear.

Pros: - In addition to the usual tools and reports, a number of other useful tools    help gauge the Past performance of keywords, ROI, and the total     campaign cost.

-  New “Open Advertiser” program can bring larger amounts of traffic, due  to increased exposure of the website in its Press releases, newsletter and  other promotional material.

Cons: - Account activation takes at least two days, and perhaps longer, due to    stringent checks of financial information from advertisers.

-  Minimum deposit is non-refundable if you cancel your account at some  point in the future.

-  Personal contact only available Monday-Friday during regular business  hours, EST.

Minimum Deposit – $25 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 1 cent
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none
Alexa Ranking – 1,673 (as of 05/2005)

5. 7Search
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the company that would eventually, become 7Search began (and continues) as a supplier of humor on the Internet.

At some point, 7Search decided to concentrate on the PPC market and began diversification with the slogan “the closest prospect to a buyer.”

In 2004, 7Search claimed to have over 400 million searches per month through affiliates and partners.

What sets 7Search apart from other PPC search engines is their concentration on a niche market for the business owner who either does not want, or cannot afford, to pay more than 10 cents per click.

They have also recently jumped into the PPC anti-fraud market technology with a product called 7Search Fraud Detection.

In addition to their PPC product (Pay Per Ranking), 7Search recently revealed another product called AccessoryAds, which targets certain industries (travel, gaming, and website owner industries).

This product basically places the ad in a category chosen by the client, rather than keyword placement. Suggestions are also made for adjunct categories that may increase the visibility of the ad.

Pros: - Has a new toolbar available for download called “Predictive Search” that    uses reverse engineering to help you choose keywords that may be more    productive than those you are currently using.

-  One of the few PPC search engines accepting PayPal.

-  Sends an email advising advertisers when their account drops to an  estimated three days worth of click money.

Cons: - Only available in English-speaking countries, apparently to help detect    and deter click fraud.

Minimum Deposit – $25 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 1 cent
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none
Alexa Ranking – 1,857 (as of 05/20O5)

6. Search123
Search 123 was founded in June of 1999, but did not integrate PPC services into its search engine until October of 2000.

Based in Agoura Hills, California, Search123 spent much of its effort fine-tuning its PPC technology and acquiring smaller properties, such as Simpli.com, from NetZero.

It wasn’t really until June of 2003, when ValueClick, Inc. acquired Search123 as a wholly owned subsidiary, that Searchl23 began to benefit from its associations.

This merger has allowed Search123, over the last year, to expand its offerings to business owners and to enhance their advertiser interface, making it both self-service and more intuitive.

Search123 is a niche PPC search engine that freely admits they are not trying to compete with Google or Yahoo.

Although they do not disclose precise statistics, they admit they have arrangements with just hundreds, not thousands, of other properties of various types (websites to search engines).

In their words, “most of our advertisers already advertise on the larger paid search platforms and use Search 23 as an incremental source of lower cost, high-quality traffic that allows them to improve their overall return-on-investment (ROI) from pay-per-click search marketing.”

Pros: - Personal attention is a priority.

-  New, robust interface as of April 2004 that incorporated many of the  features then found in only a couple of PPC search engines.

-  No additional charges or hidden charges for advice and assistance when  planning your campaign.

-  Stated goal of being an adjunct to larger PPC campaigns an advertiser may  be conducting.

-  Are more particular about the properties they partner with, and monitor  their quality carefully, giving Search123 a shorter market reach, but could  result in higher-quality results.

Cons: - Only accepts content from some English-speaking countries.

Minimum Deposit – $50 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 5 cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none
Alexa Ranking -5,282 (as of 05/2005)

7. FindWhat
FindWhat is headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida and began as a PPC search engine by acquiring a Pay Lot Position product from another firm.

Highlights of its development include a 2001 agreement to have search results featured on Excite.com.

The main strengths of FindWhat lie in its ability to quickly match improvements made by other search engines, its various arrangements with other search properties, and the acquisition of a European presence through a merger with Espotting.

Accounts are easy and intuitive to create and follow the classic process. They offer a suite of tools under the heading CruiseControlTM, which can auto bid, analyze ROI, and schedule on/off times for your campaigns. They also have a good reputation for click fraud detection.

In September 2004, FindWhat partnered with BizJournals to provide targeted advertising on each of the 41 BizJournal locations, moving FindWhat into the local marketplace. The agreement also includes the placement of a search box for FindWhat on each BizJournal site.

Pros: - Appeals to smaller businesses not quite ready to commit as large a budget    as is needed to use Google or Yahoo.

-  New URI, masking feature.

-  Nice wizard setup of your account, with plenty of help provided along the  way.

Cons: - Set up of a PPC campaign can take up to two days.

-  CruiseControlTM”‘ package only available for free if you agree to sign up  for AutoReplenishTM, a system that automatically draws money from your  credit card as your account balance decreases.

-  Although there is a local search bar on the FindWhat homepage, the only  war to integrate local search into your ad campaign is via  SuperPages.com.

Minimum Deposit – $25 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 5 cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount-none; $25 for AutoReplenishTM
Alexa Ranking – 1,591 (as of 05/2005)

8. Kanoodle
Kanoodle was founded in 1999 and is currently officed both in New York City and in Amherst, New York. Kanoodle was one of the First PPC search engines to categorize by topic.

The Kanoodle website is very impressive, filled with lots of clear content, animated tutorials and Flash-driven, step-by-step demos of all functions of your campaign.

Its proprietary products target different aspects of PPC-KeywordTarget, ContexttTarget and Behavioral Target. There are no real surprises in approach or offerings.

Free consultations result in a Kanoodle consultant preparing a campaign of between 20-50 paid listings.

Along with the customary tools and options, Kanoodle includes an easy-to-use auto-scheduling feature to activate or deactivate your keywords.

Pros: - Lots of animated and Flash demonstrations of various aspects of their    products that are both informative and clear.

-  Ability to include your logo on the PPC act.

-  Kanoodle cams found on their website, so if you want to make sure the  guy who is supposed to be helping you choose the best keywords to bid on  is actually on the job, just click on one of the live web cams set up in  various spots and see them at work. No cluttered desks in this office!

-  Novel approach to click fraud-they only charge you for two clicks from  the same IV address in a 24-hour period. Fraud concerns arc also  investigated.

Cons: - Free consultation takes from 1 to 3 weeks to be completed.

-  Keywords take 1 to 3 days to show up, due to their “editorial process.”

Minimum Deposit – $50 USD 
Minimum Bid Price – 5 cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none specified
Alexa Ranking – 899 (as of 05/2005)

9. PageSeeker
PageSeeker (a subsidiary of Dark Blue Sea Pty Ltd) has been involved in PPC since September 2000. Their home offices are in Australia.

A classic PPC search engine, it does not appear to have experienced the growth and expansion that others have over the last four years.

There is little in the way of background information to shed much light on its history, so the user must take PageSeeker at face value.

PageSeeker (affiliated with ROAR) appears in the format of a directory style listing of topics.

Clicking on a topic takes you to a page entitled “The Best Sites” for the topic you clicked on. PageSeeker offers pages upon pages of links for each topic.

In this respect, the search engine may give novices the impression they are not a PPC site at all, but a natural search engine.

Pros: - Excellent customer service that meets claims of replying to service     requests 24/7 within an hour via email, and contacts new account     customers within an hour.

-  Very easy account creation, and since organized by topic, little decision- making on keywords needed.

-  Offers a free listing, but placed near the bottom of the paid-for listings.

Cons: - Identifies itself as the third largest PPC search engine in the world, which    is almost certainly no longer true, leaving doubt in the minds of users.

Tracks raw clicks only, not unique clicks, making it difficult to get reliable statistics on number of actual visitors.

Titles are limited to the name and nature of your website. The description is limited to 25 words (roughly 125 characters)-less than other search engines.

Minimum Deposit -$25 USD
Minimum Bid Price – 1 cent
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none
Alexa Ranking 64,276 (as of 05/2006)

10. Enhance Interactive
Originally founded as ah-ha.com in 1999, Enhance Interactive was owned by eFamily of Provo, Utah and concentrated on a family-centered approach to its listings.

It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Marchex, Inc., the company that recently acquired GoClick, in 2003.

Marchex also acquired other small PPC search engines in 2004, putting Enhance in a good position to benefit from an influx of capital.

Even though it is relatively small, it does have some good partnerships, including Excite, MSN, NetZero, and others.

It claims to have nearly 1.5 billion searches per month, with more than 20,000 advertisers signed on.

Enhance Interactive offers two PPC options-a package where you construct your own campaign or one where their staff will prepare an ad and suggested keywords for your review and approval.

If you choose to have your PPC campaign created by Enhance Interactive, you will be assigned an Individual who will work with you personally, for a reasonable fee of approximately $100.

Pros: - Customer service is definitely a key feature of Enhance Interactive, which    even includes Live Chat support, an option not normally seen in the    smaller properties.

Contact between advertisers and individuals known as Regional Account Coordinators is regular and ongoing, to help ensure that if you call for support, you can reach Someone who is likely already familiar with your account.

-  A good system for account management that is intuitive and easy to use.

-  LogoLinks program that is provided free for one month and $9.95 per  month afterwards. This program places a small logo next to your ad for a  degree of personalization.

Cons: - Takes two clays to get a self-directed campaign running.

Minimum Deposit – $50 USll
Minimum Bid Price – 3 cents
Minimum Monthly Spend Amount – none specified
Alexa Ranking – 6,306 (as of 05/2005)

Keywords: search engines, pay-per-click search engines, PPC campaign, ad, ad campaign, paid ad, markets, marketing, paid programs, pay-per-call advertising, Pay Per Ranking,

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