The bulk of pay-per-click (PPC) ads are sold through two companies. Overture more or less invented the PPC business and dominated it until 2002, when Google launched AdWords. Overture also handles MSN, AltaVista, and several others; Adwords reps such engines as AOL and Ask Jeeves. Although Google is by far the most popular engine, accounting for 56% of online searches to Yahoo’s 21%, both Overture and AdWords claim they reach more than 80% of Internet users.
Like AdWords, Overture lets you pick one ore more keywords – search terms that cause a link to your site to appear next to the regular search results. Since many marketers choose the same keywords, advertisers bid to have their link posted in the most prominent spot.
It’s All in the Words Overture provides a marvelous tool to help you choose the keywords that will trigger your ad. This choice is the most important decision you’ll make as a PPC advertiser.
Since you’re paying by the click, you want only “good” hits -- people who are truly interested in your product or service. Selecting a specific search term instead of a broad one means your advertising dollars will be better spent because your traffic will be targeted. Don’t think “shoes,” think “children’s shoes,” or “athletic shoes.” Don’t forget, you’re paying for every hit. If 10,000 orthopedic patients click through looking for Dr. Zen’s therapeutic clogs, that’s money out of your pocket.
To use Overture’s keyword chooser, go to http://www.content.overture.com/d/USm/ays/index.jhtml and scroll to the bottom of the page to a box titled “How many searches can your business get?” Enter the search keyword or phrase that you think your prospects are most likely to use. For example, if your business is Star Kitchen Wholesalers, you could enter “kitchen tiles.” A pop-up panel will show you which searches incorporated that term in the last recorded month, and rank them by popularity.
For your own business, keep entering keywords into the Search field and write the traffic numbers down, or enter them in an Excel worksheet. I usually find a minimum of 50 to 150 for even a small business. Patterns will start to emerge that tell you where your traffic is, what products and services your prospects are looking for, and what keywords they are using to describe what they want. These keyword patterns will tell you what products, benefits, and solutions to feature on your website, and what PPC keyword listings you’ll want to get prospects there.
Although setting up Overture’s program is pretty simple (we’ll go through it below), it can be more costly if you aren’t careful. For example, AdWords, unlike Overture, lets you buy regional keywords so that if you want traffic only from the New York City area, your listing will only appear when prospects from the NYC region search on Google. That means you won’t run up a big bill with hits from searchers in Idaho.
Of course, Overture has its advantages, too. Compared with AdWords, you get more management options, such as Auto-Bid (see sidebar). And your link appears at the top of the search page rather than in side boxes as they do on Google, something many e-marketers see as a plus.
Step by Step To use Overture, go to www.content.overture.com and click on Pay-For-Performance-Search on the Products & Services drop-down menu in the Advertiser Solutions box. This brings you to the Pay-For-Performance-Search page. Explore the explanation and tool links and then click on “Sign Up Now”.
On the Choose A Sign-Up Plan page, you can opt for either a Fast Track or Self Serve plan. Fast Track automates the process for you and gets your listing up in three business days. For that privilege, you’ll pay a one-time $199 service fee for each listing you do. The Self Serve, a manual process, gets your listing up in five business days and has no service fee.
For this example we will use the Fast Track service, because it is simpler and gets you on Overture correctly. Once you’ve done this once, you may feel comfortable enough to use Self Service and save money.
On the Fast Track page, signing is a seven-step process that takes about 20 minutes. You’ll choose a user name and password so you can access and administer your account. On page three, you’ll be asked to set a monthly budget and list your chosen keywords. Pay-per-click can be a bit scary, because of its open-ended nature; a lot of clicks might mean a lot of prospects, but they can also mean a big bill. It’s not hard to conjure up the fantastical notion that a bad keyword choice will generate 100 million mistaken clicks and run up a bill that you’ll spend decades trying to pay off.
Tony Grass is President of e-Market Intelligence, an internet sales generation consultancy and service. Previously, he built a traditional 65-person sales and marketing communications company in Chicago. Contact is welcome through firstname.lastname@example.org.