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Search Engine Tips, Part 5 (Yahoo! Search Marketing)

by Alan Grissett, Owner and Project Manager of InfoServe Media, LLC

If the topic of search engine promotion sounds interesting, but you're not quite sure if you want to deal with submitting to an engine or directory and then waiting for often uncertain results, there is one search service that eliminates the confusion and ranks sites purely on one factor: how much a business is willing to pay for a listing. This pure-market-based service is called Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture), and it can generate extremely targeted leads and referrals to businesses willing to pay for them.

Yahoo! Search Marketing operates on a competitive bidding structure. Businesses place per-click bids on specific keyword phrases, such as "automotive parts" or "golf shoes", and the higher the per-click bid a business makes, the higher the ranking that business will receive for that phrase. For example, if Company A places a $0.30 per-click bid on the phrase "motorcycle repair manual", and Company B bids $0.29 per click on the same phrase, Company A's listing will appear before that of Company B. This sounds pretty straightforward, and it is, but there are three factors that are crucial for success with Yahoo! Search Marketing - keyword selection, tracking, and listing and bid maintenance.

To begin with, a company must analyze how customers search for the products or services they offer, and more specifically, the keyword phrases that are used to find the products or services offered. There is one maxim here that should not be ignored: The more specific the keyword phrase that is bid on, the more targeted the results. For example, the owner of a small used book store may be inclined to bid on terms like "books", "used books", and "book store", but searches on phrases like these would not generate targeted leads. To find good phrases for our book store owner to bid on, we need to dig a little deeper into her business. Perhaps, because the bookstore is in the Houston medical center area, she has a large selection of used medical books. This would give her a competitive advantage in selling these types of books, so she should try to find phrases that people use to find used medical books online. Phrases like "medical book store", "used medical books", and "Houston medical books" would be good phrases to bid on because the people searching on them would be good customers for her business.

The second factor that a bidder at Yahoo! Search Marketing must address is the issue of tracking. If a business doesn't know which search phrases it's leads are coming from, that business can waste a good deal of time and money. This is where Web programming technologies such as PHP, PERL, and ASP can be extremely useful. Without going into too much detail, these technologies can be used to track a customer from click to sale. Dedicated phone numbers and e-mail addresses can also be used to track responses.

The third element of a successful Yahoo! Search Marketing campaign is the diligent maintenance and testing of the listings and bids. Search patterns change over time, and it is important to update listings to reflect them. Also, because the bids are updated in real-time, it is important to monitor the bids regularly and update them in a timely manner to reflect your overall marketing goals.

If you are interested in building site traffic and client referrals, you should seriously consider opening an account with Yahoo! Search Marketing. A well-run Yahoo! Search Marketing campaign can be an extremely valuable asset to any organization.

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