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The Search Party, Reinvented Trada aims to make broader online marketing capabilities more accessible--and affordable--to any size business

By Jason Ankeny Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Most business owners are aware of the rudimentary keywords and tools necessary to promote their goods and services to consumers, but only search engine optimization experts fully grasp the myriad complexities that earn the maximum bang for your digital marketing buck. Now, thanks to Trada, any business can hire an army of SEO specialists--and even name its price in the bargain.

Founded in late 2008 by Niel Robertson in Boulder, Colo., Trada is a crowdsourced paid-search marketplace that lets small businesses leverage the collective acumen of more than 700 certified search experts who earn their living generating low-cost clicks and conversions. Prospective advertisers come to Trada with basic information about who they are and what they do, establishing campaign parameters such as daily budgets, prices per click and target costs per conversion. From there, Trada taps its freelance expert network, and interested parties begin creating ad groups, keywords and ads. If the search experts sell the ad below the advertiser's preset price, they keep the difference and give Trada 25 percent of their cut. "Paid search is such a big marketplace that it's hard to get value out of it," Robertson says. "The basic idea behind Trada was to create a marketplace system where advertisers spend what they want."

Upping the Ad Ante

Small businesses are spending more on online advertising this year than in 2009--and seeing better returns on their investments. A recent report from WebVisible, an online marketing firm in Irvine, Calif., breaks it down:

• The typical small-business advertiser spent 159 percent more on search advertising this year than in 2009.

• Approximately 43 percent of all clicks resulted in a web conversion in the second quarter of 2010--an improvement of nearly 40 percent year-over-year.

• Conversion activity more than doubled from 2009 for form fills, video views, printed driving directions and bookmarking.

• Attorneys, general contractors and dentists were the most popular advertiser categories.--J.A.

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