Search engine marketing is literally a war of words. Clawing your way to the top of the pile often requires a skill level befitting the most advanced of military campaigns but in order to reap the benefits, you first have to ensure you re fighting the right battle.

On the plus side, the benefits of pay per click advertising are well documented. Independent research shows that advertisers receive the highest return on investment from search marketing when compared to other forms of advertising. Strictly controlled costs are a powerful weapon and one that the online marketing industry has used to devastating effect. With multiple changes to ad campaigns permitted at no extra cost, it s fair to say that pay per click advertising has heralded a new era of flexibility for businesses.

However, if the advert isn t visible to the right clients at the right time, these advantages have little value. That s why picking Google or Yahoo as your search host of choice is a critical business decision. It s also one of the hardest judgments to make if you re not familiar with the workings of the two big hitters. Both Yahoo and Google claim to service around 80% of all internet traffic, meaning other, more practical factors should be taken into consideration.

Partner Networks

While Google bristles with enough features, advances and new additions to make a NASA spaceship feel retro, Yahoo has concentrated on expanding its partner network. It counts MSN, Orange and Lycos amongst its number, giving search marketing partners high visibility amongst UK internet users.

Google remains the global search engine of choice but advertisers on Yahoo s newly branded Search Marketing (formerly known as Overture) programme enjoy a wider range of affiliate exposure. Yahoo uses this networking to generate around 5.7 million targeted leads every month for its advertisers.

Advert Submission

Although the user interface can be a daunting prospect for the uninitiated, Google s submission procedure offers one considerable advantage; speed of use. Advert submission is instant, putting a new or revised pay per click advert online immediately providing simple guidelines governing advert length and editorial codes are adhered to.

Little if any forward planning is required on the part of the advertiser to introduce new campaigns and special offers at the touch of the button. Similarly, pausing discontinued products or oversubscribed services is also the work of moments, giving pay per click advertisers the highest level of control over their internet presence.

Unfortunately for Yahoo, Overture is currently running with an editorial backlog, delaying keyword approval by anything up to a couple of days. Changing an existing advert is also subject to a time delay on the Yahoo platform, again postponing the effectiveness of the campaign. However, Overture users do enjoy greater leeway in terms of advert length used wisely the increased character permit is a useful marketing tool.


The amount your business is prepared to pay for each keyword entered in the campaign dictates where the pay per click advert is positioned relative to competitor s submissions. Overture has the upper hand here, offering a transparent bidding system. Clients log on and enter a keyword to see how much current advertisers pay for the same term. Effectively you can then buy the listing position you want depending on how much you are prepared to pay per click relative to other users.

The process is more complicated on Google as their non-transparent system takes into account external factors such as the campaign s quality score.


AdWords counts a user-friendly reporting procedure amongst its plus points, giving account holders automated feedback on campaign performance. The perceived value of keywords, click through rates and impression counts are available for client perusal on a regular basis. Yahoo is yet to jump on the automated report bandwagon, although reports can be created manually to analyse account performance as and when required.


Yahoo operates a pre-pay system as standard as part of their payment terms. When you set a daily budget, a whole month s worth of advertising is taken in advance from your bank account. In contrast, Google spreads the cost, using a credit limit to take payments over an interim period.

If you intend to manage your pay per click campaign yourself, all of the above criteria should be taken into account before opting for one platform. Whichever service you choose, a pay per click campaign requires daily attention in order to run at its optimal level. Keyword performance should be monitored, advert text supervised and new additions introduced to maximise the return on investment. One of the easiest ways to do this is to outsource the management of your campaign to a PPC management company such as Top Position.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

July 28, 2006

Daniel is the founder and managing director of leading pay per click management consultancy, Top Position. Top Position offers Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing account management, specialising in reducing costs by as much as 40% while increasing internet visibility and optimizing account performance.

He is a regular contributor to several UK print and online publications, commenting on subjects such as click fraud, improving your pay per click account and making online advertising work for your business.

For more information about Dan and Top Position, visit

Search Engine Guide > Daniel Jupp > Google v Overture