Maybe you’ve heard about paid search but you’re not so sure what it is. Or maybe you’ve used some kinds of paid search but don’t know what else is out there. Either way, most businesses can benefit from exploring the whole range of paid search opportunities.

  • Directories. Directories are the oldest form of search marketing, starting with Yahoo! in 1994. Directories are quite simple, but also very powerful. Any business can submit their site to be considered for a listing under one of Yahoo!’s many categories. If the human editor for that category accepts, you’re in—as long as you pay the $300 fee. (Non-profits are free.) Yahoo! isn’t the only game in town. Open Directory is free to all comers. And there are hundreds of specialty directories in every industry and on every niche subject. Directories bring attention for your site, because visitors to directories may then visit your site. But organic search engines also pay attention to directories, because those human editors have high standards, allowing only high-quality site to be listed.
  • Paid placement. Paid placement is what most people think of as paid search. At its most basic, paid search allows you to bid on any search keyword the amount of money that you’re willing to pay for a click to your site. The marketer that bids the most and has the most relevant site is the #1 result. Google’s AdWords and Microsoft’s advertising programs are the most popular.
  • Contextual ads. Paid placement soon begat contextual advertising, where search marketers also bid for the highest per-click fees, with the winner getting ad space on content sites, using Google’s AdSense and Microsoft’s advertising programs. Some search marketers find contextual ads to be almost as good as paid placement, while others find that they get far lower clickthrough and conversion rates.
  • Shopping search. For some search marketers, nothing beats shopping search. You attract searchers ready to buy and can direct them right to the buy page for that product on your site. Some of the more popular shopping search engines are Yahoo! Shopping, shopping.com, PriceGrabber, and Shopzilla. If your Web site sells a product line offered by shopping search engines, you may find no batter way to spend your marketing budget.

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