Pay per click (PPC) advertising via search engines has become extremely popular with businesses of all sizes, due to the booming search market and the massive growth in online sales over the past few years.

According to ComScore Networks online consumer spending for the 2004/5 financial year is expected to top USD 66 billion dollars, up 25% on the previous year. That’s right, 66 BILLION dollars! A large chunk of that expenditure will come from leads generated via pay per click search engines.

If you’ve been thinking about trying out PPC engines but are confused about the different models available and the costs involved, this article will shed some light. I will also explain the newly launched PPC products offered by Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly operating under the Overture brand).

Below is a current list of the most popular pay for performance search engine advertising models:

  • Yahoo! Sponsored Search – Pay Per Click
  • Yahoo! Content Match – Pay Per Click
  • Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search – Pay Per Click
  • Yahoo! Search Submit Express - Paid Inclusion
  • Yahoo! Search Submit Pro - Hybrid Paid Inclusion / Pay Per Click
  • Google AdWords - Pay Per Click
  • Google AdSense – Pay Per Click affiliate program
  • Looksmart LookListings - Pay Per Click

You will find that some of these will provide better results than others. I’m not going to recommend one over another here because results vary widely and really depend on your site content, your market and your budget. But below is a brief description of each product offering and the minimum cost involved.

Yahoo! Sponsored Search™

Yahoo! Sponsored Search is the new name for what was recently called Overture Precision Match. Sponsored Search prominently displays your business in search results on some of the top U.S. search properties.

With Sponsored Search, you set the price you're willing to pay for each customer who clicks on your listing.

If you create a keyword campaign and your bid buys their "premium listings" (top 3 positions) for particular keywords or search phrases, your bid buys you top listings on Yahoo's partner sites (Yahoo, MSN, AltaVista, InfoSpace, Excite, AllTheWeb and a range of news and content portals, such as CNN).

For example, go to AllTheWeb and type in a search for “used cars”. Take note of the top 3 spots. Now go to MSN Search and type in a search for “used cars”. You'll see that the "Sponsored Sites" listings in the green box at the top (and/or the text ads to the right) contain the same top 3 listings from AllTheWeb. The regular MSN directory listings follow underneath the green box. So basically, purchasing PPC listings on Yahoo! can give you top billing on other major search engines too.

For a monthly fee, listings can be automatically monitored using the Yahoo! Search Optimizer to ensure bid amounts are consistent to attain target positions without going over budget. Volume levels are determined by your budget, as you only pay for the traffic delivered.

How much you pay depends on the keyword or phrase you are bidding on and what position you want to purchase. Each account has a USD20 minimum monthly spend and a USD30 non-refundable initial deposit is required to open the account (which is applied to click-throughs). There is a minimum bid requirement of USD 0.10 per click through and you pay the bid price EACH TIME somebody clicks your ad from Yahoo! and their partner listings.

With the large traffic numbers driven to your site via Yahoo! Sponsored Search, the costs of keyword bid campaigns can quickly add up, so I highly recommend deciding on a total budget so that you can develop a cost effective keyword bid allocation and maintenance plan combining both premium (top 3) and other listings.

Yahoo! provides detailed reporting tools to help you track the performance of the PPC campaign and traffic generated. Yahoo! also offers a special Keyword Selector Tool to assist in the selection of your keywords, a View Bids Tool, where you can see the current maximum bids and listings for the top 3 advertisers on any search term, a PPC ROI Calculator and a CPM ROI Calculator.

Yahoo! offers two sign-up plans, Fast Track™ or Self Serve, giving you the choice of expert assistance or starting out on your own. With Fast Track™, Yahoo! experts research your website and recommend effective search terms based on the content of your site and Yahoo!'s editorial guidelines. They also create customized ad titles and descriptions based on those search terms. Fast Track™ has a one time service fee of USD199, while Self Serve is free.

For more information on Yahoo! Sponsored Search, Click Here.

Yahoo! Content Match™

Content Match works on the same principle Yahoo! Sponsored Search, but offers advertisers access to more targeted customers on a pay-per-click basis by displaying their site listings alongside related articles, product reviews and other information on the Content Match partner network.

This network includes sites like Yahoo!,, and Yahoo! Content Match complements Sponsored Search™ while offering separate pricing.

Yahoo! Content Match™ works like this:

1) When you sign up for Sponsored Search, your Yahoo! account will be set up to automatically receive Content Match traffic, and your listings are automatically re-purposed for Content Match.

2) When a web user goes to a Yahoo! and views content pages (such as articles), Yahoo! provides one or more relevant ad listings on the same page.

3) Users may also be targeted based on their interests and actions. For example, a user who demonstrates an interest in photography-related topics on one site may be provided with photography-related Content Match listings on that site or on other Content Match publisher sites such as CNN and ESPN.

4) Minimum bids start at USD 0.10, and you pay only when a user clicks on your listing.

5) You can manage and track the performance of your Content Match listings from the "Manage Content Match" pages in your Sponsored Search Account once you have completed the Sponsored Search advertiser sign-up process.

6) Separate campaign management, including bidding, ad listing and tracking, lets you adjust your bids and measure performance independent of Sponsored Search to achieve maximum ROI.

7) You can control your advertising spend across your Content Match campaigns with Yahoo!'s Budgeting feature.

For more information on Yahoo! Content Match, Click Here.

Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search™

Yahoo! also offers a regionally-focused pay-per-click advertising option. Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search™ enables both online and offline businesses to potentially increase sales by precisely targeting customers in a specific geographic region.

Local Sponsored Search works best for businesses that are targeting customers in their neighborhood seeking to purchase local products and services via a web site or physical store location.

Local Sponsored Search features a Locator page, which provides prospects with information about your business, including address, phone number, store hours and a map of your location. In addition, if your business has a Web site, your main Web page will be displayed along with the Locator page.

Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search™ works like this:

1) You select keywords you wish to bid on that best describe your business, products or services. Write listings and choose a geographic range (0.5 to 100 mile radius around your location) from which you want to draw customers.

2) When a customer interested in your area goes to a search site such as Yahoo! and searches for a product or service you sell, your listing appears.

3) When the customer clicks on your listing, they see your Locator page and a link to your Web site, if you have a site.

4) Just like your Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search™ listing, you only pay your bidded amount when a customer clicks on your listing and there is no monthly minimum.

For more information on Yahoo! Local Sponsored Search™, Click Here.

Yahoo Search Submit Express™

Through Search Submit Express you can submit one or more web pages for consideration to appear in the algorithmic search results powered by the Yahoo! search engine. This is what is known in the search industry as a paid inclusion model.

Search Submit Express offers a single point of submission for your web pages into Yahoo!, AltaVista, AllTheWeb, and other search portals.

If you have content that has just changed or is updated frequently (such as pricing information or product items), Search Submit Express ensures the most up-to-date content is available to search users by refreshing your URLs every 48 hours.

The program provides detailed reporting and data designed to help you improve your pages, optimize program performance and generate more leads.

Search Submit Express works like this:

1) Submit your URLs for review and pay an annual fee for quality review of your submitted pages. Make sure your pages follow Yahoo’s Quality Guidelines.

2) Once reviewed and accepted into the program, your pages are added to a database of sites that powers search results for major web portals such as Yahoo!, Alta Vista, AlltheWeb and others.

3) Submitted URLs are presented in search results based on relevance to search terms.

4) When a user clicks your Search Submit Express listing in search results, you pay a cost-per-click fee for that lead. You must maintain a positive balance in your account for your pages to remain active in the program.

5) Your URLs are refreshed (re-crawled) every 48 hours to ensure that the most up-to-date content is available to search users.

6) At the end of one year, you can renew your annual subscription or let it lapse.

Submissions to Search Submit Express consist of a review fee and a CPC (Cost per click) component. Billing, reporting and account management for Search Submit Express listings is provided by Yahoo! or one of their reseller partners.

Search Submit Express annual review fees consist of:

Price Structure (effective 30 April 05)

Price per domain (USD):

1st URL $49.00 each

URLs 2-10 $29.00 each

URLs 11-1,000 $10.00 each

In addition to the review fee, there is also a per click fee of either $0.15 or $0.30, depending on the category of the content. The complete list of categories is listed here.

For more information on Search Submit Express, Click Here.

Yahoo Search Submit Pro™

Yahoo! Search Submit Pro is the same paid inclusion program as Search Submit Express, but with more features for larger advertisers. Search Submit Pro is designed for companies wanting to submit Web pages that might otherwise be excluded from algorithmic search results (as long as they still meet Yahoo’s Content Quality Guidelines). Examples include sites that require cookies or session IDs, sites with Flash content and information stored in content management systems, or sites that aren't well crawled because of Web site design.

Search Submit Pro is typically for customers with search marketing budgets of USD 5,000 per month or more, or advertisers who submit more than 1,000 Web pages to the program. A dedicated account manager is available to answer any questions, provide technical support, and help you manage your Search Submit Pro program.

Search Submit Pro lets you create titles and descriptions that are displayed as algorithmic search result listings. The program can automatically generate result listings that best match user queries. You can update the information frequently, independent of changes to your Web site.

Search Submit Pro works like this:

1) You provide an XML feed of your URLs.

2) Once reviewed and accepted into the program, your pages are added to a database of sites that powers search results for major web portals such as Yahoo!, Alta Vista, AlltheWeb and others.

3) When Internet users visit the Search Submit Pro partner sites and enter keyword searches, your listings may appear within the search results based on their relevance to the user's search request.

4) Your URLs are refreshed (re-crawled) every 48 hours to ensure that the most up-to-date content is available to search users.

Pricing for Search Submit Pro is based on cost per click - customers are charged each time a user clicks on one of the customer's search listings. The specific cost is based on the type and category of content provided for inclusion in the algorithmic search results and is obtainable from a Yahoo! Account Manager.

For more information on Search Submit Pro, Click Here.

In Part 2 of this article, we will look at the remaining pay for performance search engine models on our list, starting with Google AdWords.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
May 11, 2005

Search Engine Marketing Columnist

Search Engine Guide > Kalena Jordan > Beginner's Guide to Pay Per Click Search Engines (Part 1)