Yes, you can guarantee that your XSite is on the first page of search results. But maybe not the way you think.
Pay per click (PPC) is a type of Internet marketing where you only pay when someone clicks your link and comes to your site. Imagine if you didn't have to pay for your yellow pages ad up front, only a small fee each time someone called you while looking at it. Good deal!
PPC is a way to reach potential clients searching sites like Google® and Yahoo!® for appraisers in your area. When someone searches for "Atlanta appraiser" you'll see "organic" results—the kind you're used to—as well as "sponsored links." The "sponsored links" are paid for by the owners of the linked sites.
How much you pay for a "sponsored link" depends on the popularity of the search term. You'll probably pay more to show up on the first page of results for the search "real estate appraiser" than you will "appraiser in Edmond, Oklahoma." The higher you "bid" to have your link displayed in search results for a certain search term, the more prominent your link. If you bid the most, your link will be first.
Programs like Google's AdWords will not only place your link on search result pages, but also syndicate it in GMail e-mail and on other related websites. AdWords are popular too because you can set a daily limit on how much you're willing to spend for clicks.
Wendy Campanella of Accupraiser, LLC in Simi Valley has been using AdWords for about a year, and used a similar program called Overture, now part of Yahoo!, for two or three before that. "I find it moderately effective and not too expensive," she says. "A handful of times I've gone offline, and I do notice that the phone rings less."
PPC is attractive for many small businesses with limited marketing budgets because unlike lots of other types of Web marketing, if you choose your search term(s) wisely, you will get qualified visitors. Someone searching for "appraiser Reno Nevada" is not some random visitor; they're looking for an appraiser in Reno, Nevada.
One drawback to PPC marketing is that you may get more hit and run clients. "On the downside I find that it increases comp requests and doesn't necessarily result in a lot of repeat business," Campanella says.
There are literally dozens of pay per click programs, including on news sites like Newsweek.com. But the largest ones that you're probably most interested in, are Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter. If you're just starting a pay per click advertising program, it's best to start with one of the big ones.
Choose the search terms you're bidding on wisely, to avoid clickthroughs that aren't interested in what your site has to offer. If you're willing to pay for help, a tool like WordTracker can be invaluable. But start with the basics: Do some searches on Google or Yahoo! that you think might lead people to your site, and see what kind of results you're
Then give it a try. Set a low daily maximum and see how many clicks you're getting after a while. It's a low cost, low risk way to see if this kind of program is right for you.
If you've used PPC programs to market your business, or if you give it a try based on this article, we'd love to hear from you. Write the editor with your success stories.