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How to Manage and Optimize Second-tier PPC Search Engines

Within this document, and on our blog, we focus mainly on Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter. This is because these search engines own the lion’s share of the search industry. However, second-tier search engines can generate supplemental traffic, leads, and revenue if they are managed and monitored properly.

Each second-tier PPC search engine has a unique user interface and each is going to generate different results, but there are some universal tactics you can employ to achieve success when venturing outside the realm of Google AdWords, and adCenter.

Consider the Audience Your Are Targeting
Let’s face it, everyone uses Google and Bing. Your potential audience within these search engines is extremely wide. The smaller the second-tier search happens to be, the more focused and unique its audience is likely to be.

You need to do the upfront research to make sure that the search engine in which you are going to run ads has an audience that will be relevant to and interested in your product or service. You can learn about how audiences differ between search engines by going directly to where their demographics are listed in their information section. Most search engines provide this info, but some don’t. Also, a website such as Quantcast can provide some details, or you can contact the search engine directly to get this information. Conducting this research on the front end can save you a lot of time and money on the back end.

Performance Tracking Needs to Be in Place
Before you launch your first keyword, you need to make sure that all of your performance-tracking metrics are in place. Most second-tier search engines do not track conversions/revenue directly within their interface. However, you can get around this by utilizing your Web analytics program. (We most often refer to Google Analytics.)

To track leads within Google Analytics you should complete two steps. First, create unique destination URLs using Google’s URL builder. These unique URLs will allow to you monitor the traffic generated by each search engine. Second, you should set up conversion funnels within Google Analytics. Conversion funnels will let you review your total number of conversions from each search engine as well as your conversion rate.

Sure, the inability to track key performance metrics directly within an interface adds a level of complexity to your reporting, but the additional traffic, leads, and revenue can pay off in the long run.

Great Account Organization is Crucial
Throughout this document we have spoken frequently on how account structure can enhance your relevancy and Quality Score. And the same idea applies to second-tier search engines. Each search engine will have a different interface, and you will have to adapt to the benefits and limitations of each system. However, the key to successfully managing and optimizing any PPC campaign is a great account structure.

The tactics you would use to create ad groups in Google AdWords or Yahoo! also apply here. Make sure your keyword groups consist of tightly knit keywords, and the ad text that is served for each keyword group needs to be highly relevant and benefit-driven, with a clear call-to-action.

Don’t Set It and Forget It: Constant Monitoring and Optimization Is Necessary
Once you have the proper tracking metrics in place and you have created highly targeted and relevant keyword groups, then you’re ready to launch your campaign. Most second-tier search engines generate a fraction of the search volume of Google or Yahoo!, so generating statistically valid results will take longer.

When split testing your ad texts or determining which keywords are converting best, you will probably need to move at a slightly slow pace. As with any PPC campaign, you need to make sure that you are optimizing the account properly, and this means making sure you know which ad texts are your best and worst performers and which keywords don’t work well in a given search engine. Determining all of this information requires traffic.

Each second-tier search engine is likely to have a unique audience so different keywords and ad texts will be successful in each search engine. You will need to monitor and optimize your campaigns accordingly.

Remember to have the proper expectations when launching a campaign in a second-tier search engine. No second-tier search engine will have the volume of Google, or even Yahoo! or possibly MSN. But you can generate additional leads and revenue, often with a lower cost-per-click. Another reason to try out second-tier search engines is to diversify your search marketing campaign. This way, if one of your main traffic drivers (Google or Yahoo!) should dip in performance, you at least have some padding in place to mitigate any slumps that may occur.

Here is a list of some second-tier search engines and shopping search engines that have good reputations:

  • 7search
  • AdBrite
  • Adknowledge
  • Ask
  • Enhance Interactive
  • LookSmart
  • Pulse 360
  • PriceGrabber
  • SearchFeed
  • Shopzilla
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