PPC search engines sell the top positions instead of selecting them with a complex algorithm. A good example of a PPC (pay-per-click) engine is Overture. It is considered to be the best of the bunch.
The system they use is simple: having selected a keyword, you decide how much you are willing to pay for each visitor that visits your site through the search results (the more money you can offer, the higher your search engine rank will be on the result list). However, there is one limitation: your site must be at least vaguely relevant to the keyword you want to bid on.
There are two important rules you should consider, when starting your search engine advertising process.
Make the most out of your money. It is mostly the keyword that defines the cost of the top position. For instance, the number one ranking for "ecommerce" at Overture currently costs around three dollars per click, while you can get the number one position for "certified ecommerce consultant" for mere five cents per click. The latter is much cheaper than the former, though it does not produce as much traffic.
Bidding for the less popular terms during the search engine advertising has two benefits. The first advantage is that you receive a better-targeted traffic and, as a result, a better clicks-per-sale rate. The second benefit is that Overture has many partners that display the top three results from Overture in their search results. Grabbing one of the top three places in popular keywords and still be able to make a profit is difficult. However, doing your search engine advertising with slightly less competitive keywords, you can get into the top three with a reasonable price.
Moreover, your site will be displayed on all the Overture partner sites as well. If you want to find these keywords, use Overture's own tool for finding key words.
Certainly, it does not mean that you should forget the keywords that already have some people, bidding for them. You should bid on every keyword, relevant to your site. Simultaneously, you are to be sure that your search engine advertising will bring you a profit after paying for the traffic.
Start out your search engine advertising slowly. Investigate how much an average visitor is worth to you and then bid accordingly. If you rank 38th, you get a few visitors each day and make a small profit, it is much better than rank 1st, you have masses of traffic and lose money.
Do not pay any more than you have to. When dealing with any PPC search engine, you should not forget that most bidders are constantly changing their bids. Check your listings once in a while and change your bids to suit the current situation. It will save you plenty of money, especially if you are bidding for terms that are searched frequently.
For instance, it often happens that the top bid is one dollar and twenty cents and the second highest bid is seventy five cents. In this situation bidding one dollar and twenty cents is not effective, since you can achieve the same ranking with mere seventy cents per click. Forty four cents is not a big sum of money. Nevertheless, what if dozens of people click on the listing each day? It will add up really fast.