As far as most advertisers are concerned, there are only two pay-per-click search engines that deserve their attention – Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing.
After all, these are the most popular search engines that dominate the industry in terms of traffic, technology, and popularity. However, this also means that the competition on these search engines is so fierce, it makes it too costly for smaller players to get into the game.
Try the second tier
Fortunately, another category of pay-per-click search engines exists, known as 2nd Tier. Don’t let the name fool you – many of them process in excess of millions of searches per month, and some are actual public companies or wholly owned subsidiaries thereof (such as MIVA, ePilot, Marchex, and several others).
2nd Tier also includes search engines such as:
While all of them combined yield less traffic volume that Google AdWords alone, you may find that you can actually get decent bid positions without spending an arm and a leg.
In general, if it takes you 20 clicks to get 1 sale on Google, it may take you 200 visitors to get 1 sale on a minor search engine. Ultimately, though, because it all comes down to ROI, you might wind up paying the same or even less per sale (since the bids are significantly lower).
There is a lot of controversy going on regarding the actual conversions that 2nd tier search engines bring. It does vary from industry to industry. You may find that an advertiser selling web hosting may have miserable results on a specific search engine, while another advertiser selling flowers may get an excellent return on investment.
Of course, it has a lot to do with your skills as an ad writer. After all, a skillfully crafted title and description can make all the difference between a successful campaign and a dismal failure.
Try them all
My personal recommendation would be to try as many other search engine ads as you can afford to. With a minimum commitment of just $25-$50 per search engine, you might just find a new cost effective source of traffic that you’d never known about before.
Secondly, make sure to utilize the customer service that these search engines offer. Many of them will assign an account manager to help you get the most out of the campaign. Talk to them and find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t leave your ad dollars up to chance!