Wednesday

A Hard Look at PPC,
Clíck Fraud & the Alternatives

With the creation of the Overture and Google Adwords systems, many
webmasters believed they had finally hit the mother load. It was no longer
necessary for small online businesses to invest large amounts of monëy into
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services to gain high search rankings in
the natural search results.


Even webmasters committed to SEO campaigns began to realize its fleeting
nature. Given frequent search engine algorithm changes, optimizing a website
was no guarantëe that in 6 months or less it wouldn't be back to square one
and page twenty of the search results.

Hiring a SEO company was no longer necessary to crack the top search engine
results. A Page One placement could be purchased and often for far less than
the cost of a SEO company's services.

Webmasters discovered that they could get traffïc to their website for as
little as one cent per clíck.

Pay-per-click, however, has evolved over the last 5 years and not to the
benefit of most webmasters. Although five cents is currently the average
starting bid price at most major search engines, many sought after keyword
terms can cost as much as $30 - $50 per clíck. Given the increasingly
competitive nature of PPC advertising and spiralling costs, many small- to
medium- sized businesses today might be better served hiring a good SEO
company to search optimize their websites.

Who Is Clicking Your Pay-Per-Click Links?

There are four types of people who clíck on pay-per-click ads. Knowing who
these people are helps explain why experts keep telling us that 20% to 25%
of all clicks on PPC listings are "fraudulent clicks".

Personality Type #1: True-Blue Prospects

These are the people for whom you have placed your pay-per-click ads. They
see your advertisement; they like what they see; and they clíck your link to
see if you can actually serve their needs.

Personality Type #2: Accidental Clickers

Every once in a while, even my finger misfires, and I clíck an advertisement
that I did not intend on clicking. My first thought is usually, "Oh no...",
and my first action is to find the back button.

I didn't mean to cost that person monëy by clicking his advertisement...
but
I did. It was an accident. Now, the advertiser has to pay for my mistake.

Personality Type #3: Jealous Competitors

I would like to think that all of my, and your, competitors are fine,
upstanding people. And most of them are. But, there are some who are not,
and they clíck on pay-per-click links just to be spiteful or just to cost
their business rivals a few dollars.

Believe it or not, a good percentage of "fraudulent clicks" are believed to
be clicks perpetrated by people against their competitors.

Personality Type #4: True-Blue Fraudsters

Not that long ago pay-per-click providers realized that there was tremendous
opportuníty in offering small website owners a method for cashing in on
their limited traffïc.

Today, a webmaster can go to any number of pay-per-click services, add a
small piece of code to a webpage and start serving paid advertising the same
day. Webmasters thus become revenue share partners with the PPC provider,
splitting revenues with the PPC provider for each clíck.

Ethical webmasters, of course, put the needs of their advertisers first and
focus on putting eyeballs on their website so that visitors can clíck on the
advertising links.

But, the word "ethical" doesn't exist in the vocabulary of some webmasters.
These are the "true-blue fraudsters" who believe in making "revenue at any
cost... no matter who might be hurt by their actions." They devise schemes
to have their own ads clicked in order to drive up their revenue share.

These webmasters, although a minority, are responsible for the vast majority
of fraudulent clicks. And, they are the same people that should be taken out
behind the barn, for a good old-fashioned flogging --- one lashing for each
stolen dollar would be fine with me.

The Unseen Costs Of The
Pay-Per-Click Search Game


If the experts are correct in estimating that 25% of all clicks are
fraudulent, then you are paying out 33% more than you should have
to pay to
get your business.

If you are converting PPCSE clicks-to-sales at a rate of $20 per
transaction, then you should be aware that your actual conversion rate for
non-PPCSE advertising would cost you an average of $15 per transaction. By
escaping the pay-per-click search engine model, you could in effect make an
additional $5 per transaction by cutting the fraud out of your marketing
budget.

Personally, I would rather not pay the pay-per-click mafia the $5 a
transaction that they are exacting against pay-per-click advertisers.

Where My Advertising Money Works Best

I have always gained the best bang for my buck with pay-for-placement
advertising. In a nutshell, I pay a monthly, quarterly or yearly fee to have
my advertising seen on various websites. Banner advertising is always an
option, but text links provide better click-through rates (CTR's).

At any one time, you can find links to my websites on dozens of other
websites.

Here are a few examples of pay-for-placement, often referred to as "paid
inclusion", advertising networks:

ISEDN.org Network:

The Independent Search Engine and Directory Network (powered by
ExactSeek.com) is comprised of more than 200 specialty search engines,
search directories and article directories. Through their system, you can
buy quarterly or yearly top ten exposure for specific keyword phrases which
are then shown through the ISEDN's 200 plus member websites. Their network
claims to show paid inclusion ads 150 million times per month.

Pricing starts at $4 per month per keyword term (word or phrase) and goes
down according to the number of keyword phrases purchased. Quarterly and
yearly rates for one keyword phrase are $12 and $36 respectively.

BraveNet.com Home Page
Featured Advertiser Listing:

BraveNet is the number one provider of frëe web tools in the world and
through their AdBrite salës page you can purchase a 30 day text
advertisement at the bottom of the Bravenet home page for $1500 or a 3 month
advertisement for $3500. According to the Bravenet Media Kit, their network
serves 500 million page views per month.

ColdFront Network:

ColdFront serves the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG)
communities. With 150,000 unique visits and 12 million page views per month,
they provide real advertising value, if your target market happens to be in
this area. Paid inclusion can be purchased for $250 to $350 per month.

Who Left The Barn Door Open?

We put locks and deadbolts on our doors. In some localities, we put bars on
our windows. We keep our valuables in safes. We keep our cars locked when
we
are not in them. We are a nation obsessed with protecting our valuables.

And yet, when we advertise our online businesses, we seem to be willing to
let PPCSE providers steal 25% of our advertising budget? It boggles the
mind.

Personally, I am done with PPCSE companies until they can assure me
that my
advertising dollars are protected from clíck fraud.

I have always relied on my own search engine optimization skills to
strengthen my natural search results. And frankly, I am pretty good at it.

And, to supplement my own SEO efforts and organic search result placement
sucesses, or lack thereof, paid inclusion currently offers me the best value
for my monëy. Bill Platt



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