Finders's Fees


Consider paying search engines to list your site.

You've got your website up and running. There's only one problem: You have few visitors. You've yet to build up a customer list, so e-mail marketing isn't going to do much. You've slapped your URL onto your business cards, billboards and direct mail pieces, etc., but still few visitors.

What's worse is that Google and the other search engines don't know about you. Perhaps there aren't enough pages indexed on your site to give returns for relevant search terms.Or maybe you're still in the "sandbox" where Google puts new sites until they prove their validity. For whatever reason, your site is nowhere to be seen in the organic search results for the keywords your customers care about.

What can you do? If you've got the cash, you can resort to what's known as paid search or search engine advertising/marketing. Because Google is the 800 lb. gorilla in this arena, I'm going to discuss it and its AdWords program; however, note that most search engines offer a similar service.

The Right Words

Businesses wanting to advertise on Google bid on keywords such as motorcycle parts. When somebody does a search for those terms, in addition to the long list of organic results, there are results on the page that represent the advertisers' links. You'll see them along the right edge — or, for some highly relevant ads, along the top — under the heading "Sponsored Links."

The cost and placement of ads are determined by a number of factors. The most obvious is the amount of money you're willing to spend per ad for each user click. Typically, the more you spend, the more likely your ad will appear, and if you spend enough, your ad will appear closer to the top.

Google also takes into account how many people click on your ad. It wants to display relevant ads that get clicked on so it gets paid and its advertising customers see people coming to their site from these ads. Therefore, Google provides tools and guides to help you craft effective AdWords campaigns. It will help you choose the best keywords as well as write good ad copy. There are also firms that do nothing but create and execute paid search campaigns, and software that tries to optimize your campaigns.

Before you dive into paid search advertising, consider 1) your budget and 2) the keywords on which to focus. Those two elements are closely linked. If you do not set realistic daily maximums and choose targeted keywords, you'll be in for a nasty surprise when your first AdWords bill arrives.

Focus on specific keywords and phrases, and avoid something like the previous example (motorcycle parts). Open-ended or general keywords will be expensive, and they'll show up on a lot of non relevant searches.

For example, let's say all you sell are helmets, and you bought keywords like helmet, motorcycle, and so on. You think you want to cast a wide net, so you end up paying $5 per click for a term like motorcycle, or $8 per click for helmet. Your daily ad budget will be gone in about an hour, and you'll have zero sales. Why? Because your ad was showing up for things like a kid doing a book report on The Mouse and the Motorcycle, or people searching for info about the band Helmet or mountain bike helmets.

So bid on more specific search terms. Examples would be discount motorcycle helmets or (brand name) helmets. There's no point in placing your ad in front of people who aren't interested.

Start exploring paid search as an advertising possibility. Once you start doing it, you'll see why people spend so much time trying to get good organic results.