I've had a number of people asking me lately if I can recommend any other PPC networks other than Yahoo Search Marketing (Overture) or Google Adwords. Typically these people have found something that works really well, and they want to gain more exposure through other networks. The bad news is that, while there are others (for instance, 7Search, Findwhat, Exactseek), they haven't matured to the point where they're worth the effort. Personally I don't waste my time with things that aren't going to prove profitable, and these aren't profitable.
The good news is you might not be aware that there are a few variations on the old favorites that you can try. I frequently take my profitable keywords from AdWords and plug them into Yahoo Search Marketing Australia, and Yahoo Search Marketing UK. These are completely separate entities, and you need to set up separate Yahoo Search Marketing accounts for each of these region-targeted search engines. But by doing this you're able to target Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. I've found these markets to be quite profitable, so it's definitely worth looking into.
You can also use MSN. From my experience I've found it to be less profitable than Yahoo UK, but more profitable than Yahoo Australia. And it's getting better.
You'll find lots more information on getting the most out of Adwords in the members area, but here are 6 quick tips from the top of my head for increasing your clickthru rates and conversions:
Quick Tip #1: When you create your affiliate landing page, do so on a domain with a name actually related to what the visitor is searching for. For example, if you're bidding on "cure acne" keywords, then How2CureAcne.com would be a lot better than ReviewCentre.com or Widgetara.com. This applies both to clickthrus and to conversions, in my experience.
Quick Tip #2: When you start a new campaign in Google Adwords for a market you're unfamiliar with, first target the English speaking countries. You have to make this change yourself, since by default it's set to display to all countries. The reason for this is that there are several countries (such as the Philippines) that have very poor conversion rates on most search terms. This is something I've tested in multiple campaigns. My recommendation is to start with the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. After that you can start adding other affluent countries (like France, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany, etc) as you become confident with your conversion rates.
Quick Tip #3: ALWAYS split-test your ads. If you create two ads in AdWords, Google will automatically split-test them against each other and work out which ad works better for you. Use this feature! By constantly split-testing your ads will evolve, you'll find out what works and what doesn't, and you'll get the best possible ad you can create. Once you find an ad that is profitable, take it easy. Just do minor split-tests after that.
Quick Tip #4: Categorize your keywords. Write ads specifically targeted to the concerns of your searcher. For instance, if you are targeting "learn guitar" you should write one set of ads for the adgroup containing keywords about learning acoustic guitar, and another set of ads for the adgroup focussing on "learn lead guitar"-related keywords.
Quick Tip #5: Always capitalize the first words of your domain name and don't bother with the WWW. It sounds minor, but we've tested this in over 50 Adwords campaigns, and this ALWAYS increases your click-thru rate. For instance:
www.howtoplayguitar.com will convert better if it's written HowToPlayGuitar.com.
Quick Tip #6: Always start with a reasonably low cost per click. 12-15c per click works well. This allows you to see which ads work well and which ones well-and-truly tank BEFORE you spend your entire PPC budget. From there you can raise adgroups based on what what proves to be profitable.
Also, for anyone who missed it the first time, there's a blog post on avoiding high minimum bids following the Adwords shakeup in August.
I hope that helps some of you guys. PPC can be a tricky thing. Sometimes your results seem inexplicable, more related to the way you hold your tongue than any hard and fast rule. All these things I've mentioned have been things I've experienced many, many times across many different markets -- they seem pretty hard and fast to me, and it's a good place to start.
All the best,
P.S: The Great Affilorama Forum iPod Extravaganza has drawn to a close, and the judges have retired to a little room to decide the winners. Remember that we have 3 iPod Nanos to award to the Affilorama members who contributed most to the forum during November. It's been really great to see everyone jumping into conversations and helping each other out. Good stuff, guys! Winners will be announced on here as soon as the judges can come to an agreement.
STOP PRESS! iPOD WINNERS ANNOUNCED:
It was a pretty tight call, but the winners of the iPod Nanos are:
Congratulations you three, we'll get those in the post to you hopefully before Christmas! Special honorable mentions also go to Alvin and Davinator -- it was a really close call!