One of the most cost-efficient ways to pay for placement is to sign up with a company that provides search results to other sites, such as GoTo.com or FindWhat.com. Advertisers on such sites bid for placement in search results based on their chosen keywords. Their bids are based on the amount the advertisers will pay each time a customer clicks on their listings in the results from a search engine that uses one of the companies' listings.
While prices are based on bids, listings can run between 1 cent and $10 per lead, with an average of about 16 cents per lead. Both GoTo.com and FindWhat.com also charge minimum monthly fees. Costs usually correspond to the popularity of terms and where entrepreneurs want their results positioned. For example, if an entrepreneur chooses a very popular term that will likely create a lot of clicks-such as "Viagra"-it will probably cost several dollars per click to be listed first. However, being tops under a less popular term, such as "aspirin," might cost just 10 to 15 cents per click. You can save even more money if you're content with being listed No. 5 under "aspirin"-which may cost about 5 cents per click.
Another paid-placement option is to work directly with search engines. Yahoo!, for one, now leads off its search results with five paid spots. Google also features sponsored links-but styles them to resemble paid advertising. In addition, Excite has its own internal program that supplement listings from FindWhat.com, as does AltaVista with GoTo.com.
Experts say companies that provide listings to search engines are the best bet for entrepreneurs, because the search engines are themselves likely to charge higher monthly minimum fees and involve ad reps. Plus, with a listings provider, your site shows up in many places on the Internet. GoTo.com, for example, claims its listings reach nearly 75 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience.
Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.