Peak SBC, LLC  



The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center



September 21, 2002

Table of Contents



Quote of the Week


Featured Resource - HP LEARNING CENTER

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Quote of the Week

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- Bob Moawad




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Featured Resource


Want to learn a new programming language? Or maybe how to use PhotoShop more effectively? Perhaps you just need to sharpen your Excel skills? The HP Learning Center is just the resource you need. You will find an excellent variety of free online classes that are changed monthly so your possible selections will always be fresh.

Staff Article

by: Cary Christian

As most of you know, we do a lot of testing here at the SBC, and we've run across something we think you ought to know about. Before we get to the guts of it though, let's review a few things.

The use of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search engines has grown tremendously in importance for small businesses. They allow you to compete against anyone, even corporate giants, for a top search engine position for any keyword you choose. If you want it badly enough and can afford it, it's yours.

We believe all of you should be using PPC engines to generate traffic. They represent a terrific way to get highly targeted, pre-qualified traffic. But which PPC search engines should you use?

The largest is, of course, Overture. If you bid into a top 3 listing, known as a "premium" listing, for a keyword, your listing will be served out to a tremendous number of "normal" search engines, including most of the "big" ones, and this can mean lots of additional traffic for you.

The downside to Overture is that it is getting quite expensive to buy top positions in many common keywords. So expensive, in fact, that we're beginning to wonder if a lot of these businesses know how to calculate return on investment!

Then you have FindWhat. No, it's not as big as Overture and your top listings won't be served out to as many other large search engines, but they have many excellent partnerships in place and you will get plenty of excellent traffic. In fact, we have seen even better results using FindWhat than Overture. In our opinion, FindWhat is a strong second behind Overture in terms of potential reach but first in terms of value. Sprinks, Kanoodle, Ah-ha, 7Search and several others round out the group generally considered to be the top tier among PPC engines.

Then we get to the rest. There are literally hundreds of small engines that have popped up and are really struggling to attract advertisers . . . and searchers, for that matter.

These smaller engines will offer you tremendous amounts of bonus advertising to get your business, often matching whatever you decide to invest. However, there is a very good reason for this.

These engines have very little search traffic and not enough quality listings to make them very useful to people who are searching. That's why they want your listing so badly. If they can't get you to advertise, they can't improve their offerings to searchers. So they'll give you lots of free advertising to get your business.

You might be able to use some of these deals to your advantage and actually get some decent traffic from these engines. It is certainly an inexpensive proposition to find out.

But here's the problem: many of these engines are purchasing guaranteed hits to increase the number of people searching! Think about that for a minute.

You're using a PPC engine to get targeted, pre-qualified traffic to your site. The hits produced by purchasing guaranteed hits are neither.

Most of these hits will come from paid to read email companies. For example, CompDough sends out PTR emails to its members and each email will contain one or more search links. The member clicks the link and is taken to the search engine where they are told they need to make a valid search and remain on the site for 30 seconds to get paid.

Well, unless you are very lucky, the PTR email member who visits your site is there only to get paid. He or she is not online actively searching for something they need or want and they generally could care less which category they click on. Therefore, they are not targeted and pre-qualification becomes meaningless. You're paying for garbage hits you could get for free using a traffic exchange.

When you sign up for one of these PPC engines you're not going to see a notice on the site that the engine is purchasing guaranteed hits. I assure you they don't want you to know and it can be very difficult to find out.

Some of the really new engines are purchasing guaranteed hits directly. The problem is, you're probably not going to know about it unless you participate in PTR email programs.

If you believe you can avoid this problem by avoiding the really small ones, we have bad news for you. You really have to look at the relationships between these smaller engines and some of their larger counterparts.

Remember I said earlier that if you get a premium position for a keyword on Overture that you'll get exposure from most of the major "normal" search engines? This is because Overture has entered into agreements to supply search results for these engines.

Similarly, the smaller engines we're discussing enter into agreements with some of their larger counterparts to increase their hits.

For example, company Z is a very small PPC engine and it enters into an agreement with company A, a larger PPC engine, whereby A will supply hits to people searching on Z. Z also purchases guaranteed hits to beef up their hit statistics. The result?

If you're advertising on A, you're likely to end up getting some of the guaranteed hits traffic from Z. So even if A never purchases guaranteed hits, you'll still get some of this garbage traffic because of the relationship A has with Z.

These relationships are not secret. Take a look at the page

This is a listing of the major partners of some of the larger PPC engines. This listing is not exhaustive but it does help identify a middle tier group of search engines that should be safe for your advertising needs.

If you're looking at any of the smaller engines, we highly recommend you do some research to find out who their partners are. Email their support group and ask if they purchase guaranteed hits if you have to.

Always remember, partnerships are good. They only become a problem when the partnership causes you to pay for guaranteed hits when you think you're buying targeted PPC traffic.

Copyright (c) 2002

Guest Article

by: Wendy Hearn

Innovation creates success and being innovative in your business is one of the keys to being successful. Innovation is the introduction of new processes, new ways of doing things and revolutionising how things have been accomplished previously. Innovation isn't just about improvement; it's much more than that. Improvement is taking what you have and making it better - doing more of the same but better, whereas innovation is about discovering new methods and making changes.

Innovation requires you to think and come out of your self-perceived box. As an individual your box will differ from other people's and the edge of your box is where you start to experience limiting thoughts and beliefs. You'll need to step beyond these in order to be innovative. For instance, the edge of your box may be that "There is no way this can be achieved in these time restraints", whereas stepping outside it is "What new ideas and methods can we utilise to get this done?", or "What can be done differently?" and "To get this done what shift do I need to make in my approach?". Perhaps the shift you need to
make is to be more focused, inspired or challenged. So visualize yourself as this person. This will stretch you beyond the limitations of the situation and create a new experience.

Being innovative requires you to think and be wacky. The ideas you generate may seem ridiculous or even outrageous, but keep going and make them even more far-fetched. Then you'll find some gems of inspiration, even if they're only small to start with. Be willing to move beyond the way it's always been.

To be innovative you need to be willing to give it one more go. When some things don't work out and may be seen as a "failure", you need to rise above this and not let it dampen your spirits. Innovators are not satisfied with the status quo; they're ready to shake it up and be outrageous.

One aspect that holds people back from being innovative is they don't see themselves as such. They believe innovation is reserved for the elite few. This isn't necessarily true. Most people have the potential to be innovative. They may not have experienced this before or been willing to see it and play with it. You can be innovative if you choose to be so. The first step is often to give yourself permission to have the freedom to be innovative. Enjoy this freedom and allow yourself time for this innovation to surface. You may need to loosen up before your innovative juices really start to flow.

Aside from self-belief in your innovative powers, a strong compelling vision for your business allows innovations to come to life. Your business vision is your dream, what you 'see' as possible. It's an out of the box, unrealistic, inspiring, idealistic and possibly outrageous statement for your business. Your vision opens up a new paradigm, a new level of thinking and being which encourages your innovation to grow. In order to move towards your vision, innovation will be required. Your business vision pulls you forward naturally and you will feel more drawn to being innovative.

What would being innovative give to your business? If you're ready to cultivate this innovation, then I encourage you to develop a strong vision, give yourself time and freedom to play with the idea, have belief in your ability to innovate and be willing to step out of your self-perceived box.

Wendy Hearn
Personal and Professional Coach

She works with business owners, professionals, executives and
managers who are ready to enrich their lives. . . finding more
success, fun, balance, joy and time. She coaches one-to-one
with individuals and groups by telephone and email. 

Copyright 2002, Wendy Hearn. All rights reserved.

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