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Entrepreneurs are buying prime locations in search-engine results. Should you?

By Melissa Campanelli

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In today's slowing economy, e-tailers are having to worktirelessly to get their businesses' names out in front ofpotential customers. Many are now experimenting with thecontroversial strategy of paid placement on search engines. Soundsgood in theory-who wouldn't want a secure spot in the leadposition in search results?-but with a few consumer groups cryingfoul, some entrepreneurs are wondering whether paid placement isreally worth it.

of survey respondents consider pop-up ads moreannoying than spam

Generally speaking, paid placement means a company pays a fee toa search engine to guarantee that links to its Web site will appearin the first few listings of relevant search results. Pioneered, the strategy sidesteps the traditional way companies earnlistings-by submitting their URLs and the categories they'dlike to be listed in to search engines, along with a small fee.Thesearch engines then place the listings in the directory based onunbiased standards-such as the autonomous groupings of editors orthe results from software programs designed to rank relatedsites-with the most popular appearing first. In some cases,entrepreneurs even pay consultants to help their Web sites gethigher rankings.

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