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What is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising? 

Once your web site is live, you want visitors.  And just because you build a site doesn't not mean that folks will magically just show up.
Optimizing your web site so that it appears in the "natural" search results, or those results that appear in the main body of search engine result pages, is essential.
It is hard to get a good ranking in the natural search results, however. 
So what can you do?
One option is to utilize Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.  What is it?  PPC are short advertisements which typically appear along the side of search engine results pages and leads visitors to your site.  Just as the name implies, you pay whenever someone clicks on your ad.
How does your ad appear? 
You associate your ad with the keywords, or search terms, relevant to your site.  For example, if you sell car wash supplies, you set up your ad to appear on the search results page whenever someone searches for "car wash", or "car cleaning supplies', or other keywords.
How much does it cost? 
With PPC you bid against other people who have chosen the same keywords.  The highest bidder appears first in the list of ads, the second highest bidder appears second, and so on.

There are many different PPC search engines where you can spend your money, the two most prominent being Google Adwords and Overture.
Google Adwords
Ads created for Google Adwords appear on Google search results pages, as well as minor web sites.  Adwords also uses an innovative system that rewards popular ads, allowing them to rank higher than less popular ads that bid the same amount for a particular keyword.
Overture can be expensive, but it is one of the most popular and effective tools for driving people to your web site. There is a sign up deposit (currently $50), a minimum amount per month you must spend ($20), and a minimum per click cost (10 cents).
There are many other PPC search engines you might consider.  Most are not as big, but they can deliver visitors sometimes and a much lower cost:
How can you get started?
- Select a few PPC providers.  Tip: You might want to start with Google, Overture, and one or two of the minor players.
- Sign up for an account at each PPC provider.
You can sign up here:
Google:  https://adwords.google.com/select/ and select "Sign up now"
Overture:  http://www.content.overture.com/d/USm/ays/choose.jhtml and select "Sign up for Self Service"
- Read up on the bidding process at each PPC provider's site.
- Select your keywords.  Tip:  Use tools like WordTracker (a pay service)  or the Overture search term suggestion tool (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/) to find words that match the visitors you want and words that people are actually using in their searches.  These tools tell you how many times users searched for a particular keyword in a month - no point in including keywords nobody uses!  Using a variety of keywords that match your business is a good idea.  These tools can suggest additional keywords you might consider.
- Create your ads.  Tip:  Include your keywords in your ad text.  This increases the number of times people click on your ads.
- Experiment.  Tip: Try out different ads, different keywords, and different bid amounts.  You will likely find that some combinations are expensive failures, while others are cheap goldmines.
- Track.  Tip: It is important to know which ads work and how much profit you are generating with your PPC investments.  The better you track your results, the more effectively you can spend your advertising funds.  Here is a very simple example:  If a click costs $1, and you get one sale with every 100 clicks, then you should make sure that the value of that one customer acquired is at least $100 otherwise your ad won't be cost effective.


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